On July 14th internationally, Ophidian Sun is proud to reissue the three cult-classic albums of Blodulv – 2003’s Blodulv, 2004’s II, and 2005’s III – Burial – in remastered form on CD and vinyl LP formats. Titled the “Black Diamond Remasters Series,” this will be the first time each of these three albums will be available in nearly two decades.
Blodulv hail from an era of black metal physically and spiritually long ago. Their country of origin was Sweden and their first public recording – the Kristkrossare demo, on a then-young Total Holocaust Records – came in 2003, but their psychic center could’ve been the late ’90s or even earlier, when black metal still posed a threat to normcore metallers and was otherwise verboten to all but the most depraved. Put another way, “you had to work for it” back then, as the maxim goes, and here did Blodulv reside in a gutter of sound and thought. Their actual lifespan was incredibly brief – conservatively, they existed between 2002 and 2005 – but their body of work was incredibly prolific. Driven by drugs and madness, the duo of Grendel and Orcus burned brightly until that black flame consumed them entirely. And then they were gone, leaving behind a singular discography and shadowy apocrypha about their extracurricular deeds. Truly “Bad Music for Bad People,” to paraphrase the Cramps, but more importantly BY Bad People…a feat far too rare these days, which is all the more opportune that Blodulv‘s central trio of albums is exhumed for a new generation of black metallers seeking true danger and taboo.
Originally released in August 2003 on CD only, Blodulv‘s self-titled debut album introduced the Swedes with utmost crudeness and rudeness. Immediately, the quickly-characteristic Blodulv aesthetic is established: hypnotic riffing teetering between triumph and tragedy, inhumanly howled/hissed vocals, everything coated in a strange sort of “clear static,” and the guiding lifelessness of their undisguised drum-machine, here charmingly monikered “the one and only Sir Electro.” On paper, these foundational stones may seem underwhelming or at least par for the black-metal-underground course, but in execution, there was little to nothing like Blodulv back then. Even for ears well attuned to that underground, from the most minimalist Ildjarn recording to contemporaneously-young Bone Awl, Blodulv‘s cooly cruising attack was exceptionally alien.
The Devil was truly in the details here. “Street black metal” before there ever was a thing, Blodulv reveled in its staunchly Spartan contours: the songwriting moved at a sprightly pace, whether it was polka-fast or stomping-slow, either way excising any sort of aggression for something dead in its energy; the component riffs were few, but expertly threaded together in a weirdly hummable manner; even drowning in said static, the vocals were articulated to the extent that key phrases could blanch even the hardiest listener; and the secret star of the show, Sir Electro made drum-machines cool for the first time since the classic Greek recordings at Storm Studio. Dingey and dungeonic, absurdly simple but sinfully sublime, Blodulv‘s first full-length party-crashed a black metal underground that was soon about to have a second renaissance.
Originally released in January 2004 – and, thus, only five months after the release of their self-titled debut album – Blodulv‘s tellingly titled II seemed possessed, right from the beginning, with sowing discord and disarming even those listeners already onboard with the duo’s depravity. (Dis)graced with iconic cover art, Blodulv‘s second album featured the same devilishly inscrutable fade-in as the first album – suggesting a Dionysian infinity or a vacuum of narcotic narcolepsy, depending on your psychic coordinates – but artfully antagonized with the liner notes of an “unproduced, unrecorded, and utterly perverted” recording. And indeed, Blodulv accomplished exactly that…but the fuller truth was even more frightening, and even more artful.
Make no mistake: Blodulv were true black metallers for true black metal people, but there existed a wider scope of diabolism within their sick minds. So, while they could no doubt create all-caps BLACK METAL, theirs was one perhaps running parallel to even the truest of the true. To wit: II featured songwriting that was much more involved melodically – still stripped down, sure, but the phrasing was longer and more “complex in its simplicity.” Each riff unfolded nonchalantly, at first sounding majestic but soon turning mournful. Suitably, this elevated Spartanism moved at more deliberate downtempos compared to the almost-Oi! gait of Blodulv; once again, credit “unhuman angelpounding: the uncompromising Mr. Maachinaa,” the coolest drum-machine this side of Storm Studios. And while many of the original wave of Scandinavian black metal were inspired by Bathory (and were always eager to tell you so), perhaps here on II was Blodulv‘s closest link to the alien classic Under the Sign of the Black Mark, in the sense of a raw-yet-ghostly soundfield and an atmosphere of nocturnal ceremony and, arguably, a sympathetic style of melodicism.
At the time of its release – November 2005, this time through the short-lived Eerie Art Records – Blodulv‘s III – Burial didn’t necessarily signal an end for the band. The year prior to that third album, the Swedes had released a steady stream of EPs and splits, as well as the Diatribe EP (through the always-cult Forgotten Wisdom Productions) earlier in 2005. But, with hindsight, the appellation Burial should’ve said everything: this was the end of Blodulv. In most perverse fashion, they finally revealed photos of themselves in the liner, including vocalist Morn (longtime lyricist Aeifur was never revealed). Three photos of three official members…third album. The tombstone was there.
But what a way to end such a beautifully belligerent career! III opens (and closes) with a barrage of noise, suggestive of Morn’s successive work in Deadwood, Keplers Odd, and Culted; he would be the only member of the band to (publicly) continue musically. From there, the K-hole opens wider and devours the listener whole, revealing something that splits the difference between Blodulv‘s two albums – the cooly cruising attack of I, the hypnotic near-Oi of II – but brings forth an intensification of both poles. “Street black metal” to the very end, again before there was ever a thing, Blodulv upped the hooliganism here, incorporating both more thug-life stomp and running-from-the-law speed to the unsettlingly metronomic pulse. One need only listen to the arrogant-and-proud stride of “Imperium Sanctum (Bleeding Mercury)” to understand the fertile fields of filth that the trio were beginning to trample…if only one was unaware that this was also the end. Nevertheless, at 47 minutes, III – Burial marked the album as Blodulv‘s longest recording: their epitaph written in the boldest and most brazen strokes, the coffin lid closed with deafening punctuation.
All out of print since the mid-2000s, the trilogy of Blodulv, II, and III – Burial will now be reissued on both CD and vinyl as part of Ophidian Sun‘s campaign to bring the noble Blodulv catalog to a new generation starved for authentic mystery & mysticism in black metal. Each of the band’s three albums will feature remastered sound courtesy of Temple of Disharmony – bringing Blodulv‘s necrotic & narcotic sound to 3D “unlife,” as it were – and new layout inspired by the old. This is the sound of glorious times! Preorder info can be found HERE.