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Blut – Hermeneutics Award winner

by Rachel Montgomery at 08 July 2020, 2:56 PM

BLUT is a goth metal side project helmed by Alessandro Schümperlin. Their first two projects took on fears and mental illnesses, using an Alice In Wonderland perspective to create haunting, experimental music. Here, in “Hermeneutics,” they explore occult themes through each one of the Major Arcana in Tarot. Synchronicity indeed, as this review fell into the hands of someone who’s been reading tarot about as long as they’ve been listening to metal (since dinosaurs roamed the earth). Tarot and metal in one album? Gimmie!

Each song is named and themed after a card in the Tarot major arcana, starting with “0 - The Fool”. The theming is interesting. They maintain a techno metal style throughout, which limits how far they can take each theme. They manage to incorporate signals to each card in each song, though. “III - The Empress” ends with a refrain of “I am your mother” and the sound effects of a baby mobile; the card represents fertility and female creativity. Lyrically, each card is given its own narrative, addressing the audience. It’s evident in “The Emperor” when the guttural vocals exclaim this card is the one who can help you or break you (not quite, this card can be a bunch of things, representing Aries Season – late March through mid-April – in timing, a boss or a father like the King cards, or a dominant position, but I never interpreted it as strictly representing a helper/opponent). The ending represents soldiers marching to war, which is in line with the cards’ theme. An interesting take on the cards is in “X – The Wheel of Fortune” which acts as a short interlude, featuring roulette soundtracks and casino noises. The refrain “what’s your wish, what’s your choice” is an ominous take on a happier card.

Of course, though, we have to talk about “XIII”, which is probably the one that tarot afficionados into metal will skip to. Omitting the cards’ name, Death, the song opens to a gasping, raspy death-rattle narrative. The music starts after a minute and comes in with subtle howling winds ambiance. The first lyric “the end is near” puts it in its “noob meaning” of utter doom – but the refrain “I am the death, I am the new life” clarifies the true significance of this card: extreme makeover, life edition. Musically, it has a piercing beat and guitar riff that keeps the sound steady and ominous. I appreciate how heavy and dark the song is and the more techno elements are bare. The discordant music box and the creepy narrative within are also a nice touch, but I think it would be a better fit for “XV – The Devil.” Speaking of, the eerie waltz at the beginning of the song is horrifically beautiful. The echoing vocals are clear but distorted in a way that sends shivers. The inclusion of a male/female duet in the chorus is a nice allusion to the chained figures on the card, representing the souls trapped by addiction or suffering that they have the power to escape. The song closes on “XXI – The World”, which feels small at first, but then expands as the refrain continues “your work is done, your work is just beginning.” This card isn’t supposed to be ominous, rather, represent the completion of a big project or cycle, or a major life lesson learned. I feel like I’m expanding too much or being carried out into the cold universe.

It’s an intense album. Lyrically, the songs tie into the themes more than the music does, which works to create an avant-garde experience. It really reminds me of my Deviant Moon tarot deck, which has a darker flavor than most decks and takes some liberties with the meaning to create a gothic atmosphere (and I absolutely love it). Musically, there are some songs I wish they would have taken further into the theme, specifically the more positive cards. However, the themes of the more well-known, metal cards are memorably executed to the point where I will be dissecting this album for a while. If you’re a fan of progressive, avant-garde metal, and if you’re a fan of tarot, check this out.

Songwriting: 9
Production: 9
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 10

4 Star Rating

1. 0 – The Fool
2. I - The Magician
3. II - The High Priestess
4. III - The Empress
5. IV - The Emperor
6. V - The Heirophant
7. VI - The Lovers
8. VII - The Chariot
9. VIII – Strength
10. IX – The Hermit
11. X – Wheel of Fortune
12. XI – Justice
13. XII – The Hanged Man
14. XIII
15. XIV – Temperance
16. XV – The Devil
17. XVI – The Tower
18. XVII – The Star
19. XVIII – The Moon
20. XIX – The Sun
21. XX – Judgement
22. XXI – The World
Alessandro Schümperlin - Vocals
Chiara Manese – Vocals
Stefano Corona - Synthesizers, Keyboard, Loops
Marco Borghi - Guitar
Matteo Badetti – Bass
Record Label: AURS Label


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Edited 04 February 2023

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