Blutmond - Thirteen Urban Ways 4 Groovy Bohemian Days
Aural Music/Code666
Experimental black metal
13 songs (01:12:17)
Release year: 2010
Official Myspace, Aural Music/Code666
Reviewed by Charles
Surprise of the month
Humour and black metal sit uneasily together. Or, to clarify, they sit together uneasily for black metal fans. If you don’t like black metal, they sit together very well indeed. Those benighted ones excluded, though, I can almost feel the snorts of derision emanating from Metal Reviews visitors worldwide breezing angrily across the oceans. That title… Aren’t there enough unselfconscious goofballs in black metal already that we need self-conscious ones? Scanning the song names: Mind Da Gap, Working Poor, Yuppie Yeah!, Dance N’ Society? Why spoof a genre that has so comprehensively self-spoofed on more than one unfortunate occasion?

What, then, to make of this? Sprouting from the remains of the (by all accounts) very black metal Totenstille, the band’s mission statement seems to be to restore a “playful sense and being” to our world of “depressed grey shapes”, and lay down a manifesto for a transcendent “urban mysticism”. No, I don’t know what this means either. Perhaps we can interpret that they are serious about being silly? That would certainly fit with moments here, though I’m not sure about the whole. Evoking experimental black metal luminaries like Ephel Duath or DHG, this can be an eclectic and often tongue-in-cheek album that gleefully vandalises a riotous blackened blast template with trance synths, muted trumpets and abrupt blues breakdowns, among other things. But that blackened blast itself is capable of unflinching power.

On occasion this can be jarring. Working Poor… swoops into action with a gloriously intense black metal battle-riff, before being interrupted abruptly (that is an understatement- it’s like an unexpected birthday decapitation) by an awkward jazz swing replete with parping synth horns. The jolting effect is undoubtedly intentional, but I wonder about the extent to which this is indulgent surprise tactics over real expression. That said, the disparate elements are often worked superbly, particularly the black metal ones. More single-minded tracks like Blind Date Broadway could fit without any problems onto a great melodic black album, expertly balancing tunefulness and ferocity.

This isn’t necessarily to say that the more eclectic numbers are always the weak points; Trapped in Mental Disorder is probably the most impressive tune here. Throughout its seven minutes it builds subtly from ominous, fidgety grooves underpinning a muted trumpet solo to growling black metal without ever losing coherence. I think the aura of the album leads you to expect something more self-consciously wacky and thrown-together than you get. Parts of Suburbs- A Lamentation or a Social Frustration?!?, for example, may sound like the jazzier moments of Ephel Duath’s The Painter’s Palette, but these are more like garnishes than the meat itself.

So, a bit of a confusing record, all said. It comes on like a spoof, and delights in musical curveballs, but seems deadly serious about straight-up black metal at the same time. Does it work as a piece of avant-fusion? Perhaps, though it has to be said that other bands mentioned here have probably worked harder to integrate other elements more deeply into their sound. Ultimately, this is simply an engaging and quirky album which doesn’t quite take its experimental vision to truly unknown realms. If you are an experimental black metal fan, this is a band to note.

Killing Songs :
Trapped in Mental Disorder, Blind Date Broadway, CRY:sis
Charles quoted 80 / 100
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