Review 2264 : Blóð – Mara – English

Blóð finally unveils its third album.

Active since 2018, the duo formed by Ulrich W. (all instruments, Otargos, Volker, ex-Regarde les Hommes Tomber) and Anna W. (vocals, LYNN Project) signed to Talheim Records Germany in 2024 for the release of Mara.

The album kicks off in a ritualistic mood with Gehenna, a first composition originally made of children’s chants, then of a greasy sizzling rhythm to welcome the haunting vocal parts. The thick riffs sometimes incorporate a few more melodious touches, which go hand in hand with the haunting approach and the screams, before fading away to join Malignant, where the more virulent drums make the atmosphere oppressive. The waves of aggression always eventually subside with a heady sound before giving way to Martyr, a tortured track that begins in a suffocating slowness from which plaintive cries struggle to find their way, but the break will give it a whole new flavor by anchoring it in an even deeper darkness. Mara, the eponymous composition, follows a kind of linear intoxicating progression between regular saturation and simple rhythm, which fits perfectly with the band’s ethereal approach, but which will also surprise us and give rise to anguish with The White Death and its growls in the background. Strange touches fill the air before the rhythm takes over again, exposing us to its dissonance, which only ceases to let Chthonia envelop us in its hypnotic, abrasive veil. The intensity is short-lived, however, as the dark ôde gives way to the gentle Frost, which offers us a moment of total appeasement thanks to a few melodious harmonics, which are lost in the silence to become more metallic and menacing with the arrival of Covenant, where heaviness takes its place again thanks to steamy Doom roots. There’s a sense of melancholy in this track, led by Anna‘s voice, just as on Queen ov Hades, which imperceptibly strengthens only to break and then resume its damned march to Mother ov All, which begins with a similar approach coupled with more solemn elements that drive the composition to its downfall… but the sound is reborn to metamorphose into hazy drone and cloud our minds until the final moments.

Blóð‘s strength lies in their ability to blend the oppression of Black Metal with the heavy slowness of Doom, and even Sludge at times. Mara is a window on darkness, a veritable ocean of raw darkness that won’t let you go.


Version Française ?

A few questions for Ulrich W., composer with the band Blóð, about the release of their third album Mara.

Hello, and thank you for your time! How could you introduce the band Blóð without using the usual labels of musical styles such as Sludge, Doom…?
Ulrich W. (all instruments) : Hi. Blóð is a duo that offers a musical experience akin to a witch’s Sabbath ritual, a journey through a heavy, eerie and thick atmosphere…

What does Blóð mean, and how do you relate it to the band’s current music?
Ulrich: Blóð means blood in Icelandic. Blood is the very essence of life, but it also has a morbid and occult connotation.

Mara, your third album, has just been released. How is the feedback?
Ulrich: We’re delighted to be able to present it at last. It’s been in the can for at least a year now, but label issues and the like have really delayed the release, which we originally planned for early 2024… The feedback’s been really good, and I have to admit it’s been quite pleasant. Even if you make music primarily for yourself, it’s always gratifying.

How would you sum up Mara in three words?
Ulrich: Nightmare, anguish, women.

How did you go about composing Mara? Did you notice an evolution compared to the band’s previous productions? Is working as a duo easier for you?
Ulrich: We worked in the same way as on the other two albums, with me handling all the music and Anna contributing vocals, lyrics and themes. The biggest change for me is the more pronounced aggressiveness than on the band’s first prods. The Black Metal side is much more present, resulting in an album that is less ethereal and ethereal and more heavy and oppressive, leading to suffocation. Yes, being a duo is perfect for Anna and me. We understand and complement each other perfectly, naturally.

Mara has an obvious Sludge and Doom basis, but also some more Black Metal influences. What inspires you to write your music?
Ulrich: What inspires me?… I’d say it’s more about sound ambiences or psychological settings than music per se. I’m very fond of soundtracks and SF/fantasy/horror films… on the first two albums I tried to limit or even curb this Black Metal touch, because the aim wasn’t to make Blóð a Black Metal band, but the fact is that with the evolution of the band and especially Anna‘s vocals, this became obvious. 

What does Mara tell as a whole?
Ulrich: We’re dealing with stories of witches, nightmares, myths and divinities linked to the night, death, the occult, the afterlife, but also nature. It’s not a concept album, the tracks can be listened to separately, but the whole forms a massive unit. 

Mother of All is by far the longest track in Blóð‘s discography. How did you go about working on it?
Ulrich: It’s a rather unusual track in that it’s made up of two entirely instrumental parts. The pachydermic heaviness and then the fall into chaos. The work wasn’t any different from the others, apart from the fact that when Anna listened to the track, she decided that it didn’t need any vocals and that the music could stand on its own.

I know this is a difficult question, but do you have a favorite track on this album? Or the one that seemed the most natural to compose?
Ulrich: Anna‘s favorite track is undoubtedly Mara, but for me it’s Gehenna, the first track on the album, which transports me the most with its dissonance, simplicity and heaviness.

What does the artwork represent, and how did you go about creating it?
Ulrich: We had several ideas for the cover, but this was the one that Anna liked the most, not because she is the model, but because of the « mystical sweetness » it exudes. We found the contrast between the cover and the music on the album very interesting, like the two aspects of the Mara divinity.

You’ve signed with Talheim Records Germany for the release of Mara. How is the collaboration with the label going?
Ulrich: It’s going well at the moment, they’re handling the foreign com and we’ve made a deal with Solstice Promotions, for the French promotion.

What are your plans for the future of Blóð?
Ulrich: To be on stage! We’re working on booking for the end of the year and 2025. A few dates have already been announced.

I’ve already seen you twice, first at Mennecy Metal Fest 2019, then at Hellfest 2023. How do you visualize a Blóð concert from your point of view?
Ulrich: Like a ceremony, a ritual. But also as a communion with the audience, creating something intimate.

How has recruiting live musicians changed the band’s approach?
Ulrich: I don’t think it has. Blóð remains a duo after all. We opted to add live musicians so as not to lose any sonic breadth on stage, and to be able to retain the immersive, massive live feel. At present, we have Alex (also Otargos guitarist) and Jen on bass. We’ve chosen to stick with programmed drums live, as we do in the studio, to reinforce the icy side of our music.

Are there any musicians or artists you’d like to collaborate with in the future?
Ulrich: I don’t know, I admit I’m a bit autistic and selfish when it comes to my music, I find it hard to share my ideas and incorporate those of others… and I know that can be a flaw. I’m more open to collaborating with sound, photo and video professionals. We have a show with Celeste in October as part of the Ex Tenebris Lux fest in the south of France, which I think will be a great moment…

Do you think you’ve improved as a musician with this album?
Ulrich: I certainly do. It wasn’t easy, and it took a lot of work with Anne to materialize our ideas and feelings, but this is Blóð‘s most accomplished album as a musical entity.

Which bands do you dream of playing with? I’ll let you imagine a date for the release of Mara, with Blóð opening and 3 other bands.
Ulrich: There are quite a few, but of course I’d mention (DOLCH), Wolvennest and Amenra

Last question: what dish would you compare Blóð‘s music to?
Ulrich: A fugu dish!

That was my last question. I’d like to thank you for your availability, and the final words are yours!
Ulrich: Thanks to you, and thanks to all those who follow the band.

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