11th December 2014
Mars – Blood is the Food of the Gods
I am hesitant to define the latest release by Mars–aptly titled Blood is the Food of the Gods–as neofolk. With this release, Mars exceedingly taps into a primordial energy that leaves one more with the impression of ritual folk than the standard neofolk fare. Of course I do not mean raw in terms of sound, as the productions on Blood is the Food… is very much polished. It is the overall aesthetic and intent of the album that contains that rawness, changing the musical landscape as Blood is the Food… evolves. At first, of course, the album came off to me as very similar to classic Death in June material (Nada!, Brown Book, “Symbols of the Sun”), which in turns brings obvious yet subtle comparisons to Current 93, but as I gave the album a few more listens it really began to stick with me and I found myself completely drawn to it for the way that it evolved beyond its influences.
On my first listen, the album admittedly came off as fairly uninspired, yet once given a closer listen, I really began to notice that Mars have tactfully enhanced neofolk’s classic sound with their own unique approach and ideas. However, while it may not have been the case or the artist’s intention to enhance older works from their peers, it definitely does leave one with that impression. For example, “Icarus Falling” (which was premiered here on Heathen Harvest
back in September of 2013) seems to pay tribute to Death in June both lyrically and musically. Musically, the song is acoustically driven yet features an accented style of ritualistic percussion. Lyrically, without subtlety, and as with the myth that the title alludes to, “Icarus Falling” carries on a dialog of mankind’s failings as we tumble towards the abyss from the pedestal that we built for ourselves.
Other songs such as “The Cyclic Law” fit with the band’s Heathen aesthetic and spiritual mindset. This song goes through each day of the week and shows the cycle of the days as well as their meaning, ultimately completing the cycle by coming back to the first day. The music to this song is perhaps one of the most atmospherically ritualistic efforts on the entire album, complete with shamanistic spoken word and primitive drum-work. Unlike these first few offerings, the title track “Blood is the Food of the Gods”–as well as “Hunters” and “Man is Disorder”–does not utilize such a traditional approach.
In this moment, Mars have managed to create an album that successfully interprets the Heathen worldview into music, though the seed had already been sown with the aforementioned “The Cyclic Law.” In addition to following the Heathen day-to-day cycle of the gods, it also explored the concept encoded in each god. For example, the lyric “Tyr’s Day / Beware the father of strife / The bringer of steel,” which is followed by “Woden’s Day / Our one-eyed god / Master of wisdom / The lord of the runes.” Though common knowledge, this style of vocal approach evokes a Pagan energy that is deeply ingrained in the ancient Germanic tradition.
Other songs, such as “Sacrifice,” contain similar ideas. It expresses that each age contained unique characteristics, and it rediscovers the very nature of sacrifice and how it is capable of “giving birth to the light.” Another song that I found particularly interesting is “Mobilis in Mobile,” which is inspired by the novel Vingt Mille Lieues Sous Les Mers by Jules Verne, or more specifically by the philosophy of one of its primary characters, the iconic Captain Nemo.
Overall, Blood is the Food of the Gods is certainly an album that slowly burns into you. At first listen it may come off as uninspiring, yet after listening to it multiple times, one may find themselves falling deeply into its familiar yet ritually dynamic core. The concepts contained within the album are subjects that I am profoundly interested in, and the artists have successfully and intelligently explored them in their sophomore effort, and their first for the German Lichterklang. For readers who enjoy a sincere, shamanistic take on the neofolk genre, Blood is the Food of the Gods is assuredly a necessary acquisition.
Written by: Conor Wrigley http://heathenharvest.org/2014....he-gods