It’s a bleak psychedelic dronefest and nobody’s invited when you press play on Blut‘s Drop Out and Kill tape. The UK duo of N.B. and S.M. have released pretty much everything they’ve done on cassette, and listening to the Major Destroyer Records release of this album, which was originally reviewed on CD, I can hear why. The band’s unremittingly extreme tin-can gnarl comes across even nastier through the analog compression, finding the Dorset-based outfit even more straddling the line between blackened lo-fi and stone-drone sludge, like Electric Wizard‘s misanthropy played at half speed somewhere down the block. Sometimes all you get it low-end rumble and malevolent echoing.
On headphones, with the volume up, the effect is even more grating. Blut‘s underlying drum groove is there — straightforward and slow — somehow managing to cut through a mountain of tonal lurch on opener “Aeon Long Death/Alcoholic on Cloven Hoof,” their anti-you-and-everything-else stance apparent from the very first second of the song. I said when I reviewed the CD that the band were probably unfit for just about any human ears, and I stand by that, since they push extreme sludge to what I consider new heights of fuckall. Whether or not one puts on Blut as the soundtrack to their sunny-day barbecue is irrelevant — they’re genuinely pushing the boundaries of what’s come before them and I consider Drop Out and Kill laudable just for that. That Blut have developed a clear sense of purpose over the last couple of years and releases like Grief and Incurable Pain (review here) and Ritual and Ceremony (review here) and turned spite into aesthetic is where I think they have most succeeded. The farther out they go, the less listenable they get, the better they become. They’re getting closer to (at least what I see as) their goals for the band.
If I’m overthinking it, well, I’m supposed to overthink it. Still, the foreboding drone of “Murder Hallucination” and “Skulls.Coffins.Nails” isn’t happening in a vacuum, and as much as Blut are casting off elements of traditional songwriting — verses, choruses, etc. — they are working in an established sonic sphere of extreme drone doom. Noise aficionados would probably hear Drop Out and Kill and call it straightforward because it has guitar and bass, but when I put on this tape, I hear the roots laid down by SunnO))) and Sleep’s Dopesmoker taken to vicious, dark, new places. That Blut include a side-two cover of Boston outfit Nightstick‘s “Ultimatum” — they call it “Ultimatum (Yog-Sothoth)” — only demonstrates their awareness of their own lineage. It also evens up the sides and gives Drop Out and Kill even more horrifying audio, but yeah, the other thing too.
Fact is, whatever level you want to approach them at, Blut aren’t about to make it easy for you. What they’re going to do — on tape or any other format — is crash and drone and scream and emit some of the most fucked up noise I’ve ever heard. That’s their thing, and whether you hear it on CD or on cassette, if you consider yourself a fan of the sonically abrasive, you should probably hear it. Tapes have the advantage of being cheaper and sounding fucked up. That suits Blut well.