Sometimes, repetition can be a powerful tool. French weirdos Blut Aus Nord know this quite well, as they’ve (he’s) used this tool over the course of several classic and not-so-classic albums. When guitarist, vocalist, and otherwise main fixture Vindsval reunited with longtime BaN bandmate W.D. Feld to further explore the more coldwave/post-punk influences found during the 777 trilogy in Yerûšelem‘s debut, The Sublime. With a fresh canvas to work with, Yerûšelem looks to paint a newer, fresher image of what Vindsval’s main project hinted at. Because sometimes, repetition can be a powerful tool.
If you enjoyed 777‘s dancier, shoegazier tracks, you will find some enjoyment in The Sublime. In fact, the opening title track lulls you into a dreamlike, hypnotic trance with its deep bass, circulating drum programming, a simple-yet-effective guitar melody, and Vindsval singing the words “I… I… hurt you…” repeatedly. Because sometimes, repetition can be a powerful tool. And Vindsval and Feld do a good job channeling their inner Justin Broadrick (the heavy and plodding “Joyless”) and Geordie Walker (the swirling-yet-dancy “Autoimmunity”), as they incorporate what made Godflesh and Killing Joke (respectively) so potent and influential to a plethora of different bands from various genres of music.
But while sometimes repetition can be a powerful tool, it needs to build to something. The first few songs on The Sublime are great, but once the mid-album instrumental “Sound Over Matter” concluded, I spent more time looking at each song’s running time, wondering when each song was going to end, instead of just enjoying what I was hearing. With the few exceptions above, the songs just repeat themselves, with scant variances and little-to-no buildup. “Triiiunity,” with the exception of its GC Green-on-steroids bassline, feels like it goes on forever, and it’s a mere four minutes. Proper closer “Reverso” also had that Mr. Bones’ Wild Ride vibe to it, as it repeats itself a bit too damn much for its own good, without ever elevating itself to a new plateau.
The most damning thing of all, however, is this easily could have been another Blut Aus Nord album. We’ve heard Vindsval’s clean singing on 777 – Cosmosophy. The heavy industrial influences have been BaN‘s bread-and-butter since 2003’s unfuckwithable The Work Which Transforms God. The repetitious nature of Vindsval’s writing has been prevalent for a while now, but this time, it’s with a new name, fewer blastbeats, and absolutely no growls, shrieks, moans, buildups, impressive melodies, or anything that would constitute as a curveball or even a hook. And when there is a hook, it’s beaten within an inch of its life, even though sometimes, repetition… I think you get the point now.
So, I had a hard time figuring out how to grade this. On the one hand, it’s not technically bad at all, and some songs have some cool moments. On the other, I don’t see myself reaching for it when I have better, stronger albums made by Vindsval and company, and even if I did, I can barely recall what I listened to, as very little of it latched onto me. And while I have nothing but the utmost respect for Vindsval and his past accomplishments, Yerûšelem just feels like a lost 777 chapter, but without the impressive builds and climaxes that made songs like “Epitome VI” a treasure to the ears. However, if you enjoyed the 777 trilogy, or have a bigger, better craving for coldwave, you might enjoy this more than I did. As it is, The Sublime was anything but for me.