There’s a lot to cover when we talk about Blut aus Nord. The long-running French black metal project made it’s debut with Ultima Thulée in 1995 and has been steadily transforming since. With each release, Vinsdval, the creative force behind the project, reshapes his vision of black metal into something abstract and unexplored. The project has been marked by a steady stream of seminal releases like The Works Which Transform God, Memoria Vestusta II: Dialogue With the Stars (my personal favorite), Memoria Vestusta III: Saturnian Poetry, and the 777 series. I don’t think it’s a stretch to call him the black metal Radiohead or the black metal David Bowie or the black metal Björk. He’s always had a way of reinventing himself while remaining consistent in quality.
But really, I’m burying the lede here. Something that’s often overlooked in the Blut aus Nord story is the context of that 1995 debut. BAN made it’s introduction as a two piece with Vinsdval on guitars and vocals and W.E. Fel on keyboards and drums. W. Fel would contribute to various Blut aus Nord releases later on and the band would consist of a shifting lineup, but BAN was always Vindsval’s brain child. That’s important because Vindsval was only 16 years old when he composed, recorded, and released Ultima Thulée virtually all by himself. At this point it’s a cliché, but what were you doing when you were 16? The actual music is almost beside the point and yet it’s one of the most essential pieces of mid 90s black metal. It doesn’t quite reach the highs of BAN’s later output, but it did provide an intriguing glimpse into the mind of one of metal’s most inventive auteurs while blasting through nearly all of the competition. And that’s more than we can say about Pablo Honey, right? Comparing any up-and-comer to Vindsval feels a little premature. That’s a really stacked resumé. If I’m going to apply that anyone it has to be Markov Soroka. I’m hesitant to do so because Soroka is currently blowing that early Vindsval work out of the goddamn water.
What we have here is quite the metal oddity. Like Vindsval, the Missourian has been releasing music since 2014 when he was only 16 years old or possibly even younger (DFrye has a better grasp on the Soroka timeline than I do so ask to him). Also like Vindsval, each piece reveals a different approach. Unlike Vindsval, things get pretty complicated and I honestly don’t know where to begin. Soroka serves as the leader and guiding force behind multiple projects and bands, which isn’t uncommon in 2018. Everyone is in every band and there’s always one project that serves as a musicians main creative focus. Soroka doesn’t have that. Instead, it seems like he’s constantly dreaming up projects and monikers that are only intended to serve whatever subgenre of metal his muse happens to be drawn to on any given day. What’s most impressive about all of that is none of these musical identities sound the same. If I didn’t know any better, I’d 100% believe someone if they told me it’s all the work of completely different musicians. This, of course, makes following his output difficult, kind of knotty, and maybe a little frustrating. So let me give you a few of my personal favorites:
Tchornobog – s/t (which was one of the best metal albums of 2017)
Aureole – Aurora Borealis
Unsleep – s/t
And this all brings us to Krukh’s debut (which translated from Russian means: absurdity). As you can guess, Krukh is unlike everything else our man has done. Безглуздість! lists full band credits with N. Salimbayev on lead guitar and S. Eldridge on drums. Maybe this is Soroka relying more on collaboration or maybe Krukh is a real band. Either way, I’m happy to report that Krukh is just as essential as the rest of the guy’s discography and proves there’s still fresh ground for him to cover. With Безглуздість! Krukh takes on an amalgamation of second wave black metal riffing and folk metal, which all blends very well with Soroka’s tendency to nod to his Ukranian heritage. These tracks are all made up of riff-y, blasting black metal that is somehow spacious and bruising at the same time. There’s also a heavy use of field recordings that give it all the same pastoral feel I get from Russia’s Sivyj Yar. And, of course, this all adds up to something that could’ve only crawled out of the brain of Markov Soroka.
If you’re still with me, you can stream Absurdity! now via bandcamp. You can also download it for free. In my experience, Markov seems very intelligent and very respectful so you should throw the band a few dollars if you can.
Безглуздість! is out now via Fallen Empire Records.