I’ve bounced back and forth on this review for Deus Saluti Meæ, the 12th studio album by French one-man black metal machine, Blut Aus Nord. As anyone who’s ever listened to them (him) before, the best way I can describe BaN‘s discography would be to compare the band to a mighty oak tree. Some of the branches are frozen solid and covered in snow (Ultima Thulee, the Memoria Vetusta trilogy), while another branch is mold-ridden and diseased, looking like it’s moving in an uncomfortable manner (The Work Which Transforms God, MoRT, Odinist), and yet another looks manufactured (like formica), but is still teeming with undeniable living energy (the Godflesh-inspired 777 series). Granted, these are all different branches, but they all bear the same semblance to the tree they’re attached to. With me so far? Good. So where does Deus Saluti Meæ fit on the tree?
It doesn’t. Or rather, it would fit in with the diseased, uncomfortably grotesque side of the tree had this branch not fallen off due to lack of sunlight and oxygen. “Chorea Macchabeorum” lurches forward with the same programmed drum beats that were used in abundance on TWWTG, the same growly hisses that peppered TWWTG, the same riffs that drove TWWTG, and a middle portion that sounds like an uninspired retread of “Epitome VI” off the awesome 777 – Sect(s) album. One of the things about BaN‘s output is the project’s ability to bounce within its discography to revisit older sounds, but injecting some new life into them. On here, though, mastermind Vindsval forgot the syringe entirely and just tried to resuscitate a past glory without any success.
That dreadful feeling turned into boredom real quick as the album continued on. “Revelatio” opens with overly loud artificial blast beats, an all-too-familiar guitar/keyboard swirl, and what sounds like multiple kittens in heat meowing incessantly while Vindsval growls. “Métanoïa” closes out with a repetitive drum loop, non-stop moaning, and an disengaging swirling keyboard “riff” that turned a three-minute song into an exercise of sheer boredom. Thankfully, a tasteful guitar solo near the song’s end salvages things somewhat. And I hereby declare a moratorium on bands abruptly ending songs without any build-up, but seeing as how “Impius” was moaning and crawling at the speed of sludge to nowhere in particular anyways, I will overlook it this time.
There are some highlights, few as they are. The main riff to “Abisme” stands as one of the most oppressive I’ve heard all year, showcasing a new branch to grow from. “Ex Tenebrae Lucis” mostly recaptures the creepy, warped vibe through most of the song until Vindsval sounds like he’s rasping “Not yet… not yet… not yet… not yet…” over and over. Sadly, these few moments of inspiration remain smothered by a severe lack of inspiration and creativity. There is literally nothing on here that BaN hasn’t tried before. Vindsval took no chances, and has seemingly regurgitated material from his past releases in hopes of finding something exciting, but without any fresh new ideas being implemented.
And BaN need to find some inspiration, and quick. Deus Saluti Meæ is the first Blut Aus Nord album I had trouble returning to after its initial listen, and I have never felt that way about any of the band’s discography before. Perhaps this is just a misstep and that Vindsval will find some new ideas and inspiration. That step’s necessary, as you can only revisit old sounds so many times before it’s no longer exciting. It’s time to create a new branch altogether. Depressing, but not in the way Vindsval intended.