Blut Aus Nord
1. The Son of Hoarfrost
2. The Plain of Ida
3. From Hlidskjalf
4. My Prayer Beyond Ginnungagap
5. Till' I Perceive Bifrost
6. On the Way to Vigrid
8. The Last Journey of Ringhorn
Having recorded a couple solo demos under the name Vlad, France's "Vindsval" assembled some other musicians together and rechristianed his band Blut Aus Nord. Their first record together, Ultima Thulée, finds the band wandering two paths simultaneously: avant-garde metal and more orthodox black metal. While a good chunk of Ultima Thulée sticks to a heavy, bombastic approach, many sections take tangents into keyboards and untraditional sounds, particularly since black metal was still in a more adolescent stage in 1995. One could almost suggest that their influences were equal parts Bathory, early Emperor and the post-Emperor solo plinkings of Mortiis (sans dungeon). To a degree, the longer songs here have a tendency to bog down and lack enough kinetic energy in their arrangements to be truly compelling, but Blut Aus Nord gets high marks for their willingness to experiment and offer more than simple Bathory rehashes to the black metal world. The better moments are when Blut Aus Nord meanders the most, such as "The Plain of Ida" or the album closer "The Last Journey of Ringhorn" (which reminds a bit of something Windir might have been impressed with).
Those fans who enjoy a little bit of variety within their extreme metal might find interest in Blut Aus Nord's debut. The mixture of black metal paced with doom metal tempos (at times) and a sense of dynamics with various keyboard passages makes Ultima Thulée a fairly interesting record overall. One gets the impression that with experience, this could be much improved upon, but compared to some its contemporaries in 1995, this is a pretty solid album.
Review by John Chedsey
Review date: 04/2008