Burzum

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Burzum/Aske

Burzum - Burzum/Aske ©1991 Misanthropy
1. Feeble Screams From The Forests Unknown
2. Ea, Lord Of The Depths
3. Spell Of Destruction
4. Chanelling The Power Of Souls Into A New God
5. War
6. The Crying Orr
7. My Journey To The Stars
8. Dungeons Of Darkness
9. Stemmen Fra Taarnet
10. Dominus Sathanas
11. A Lost Forgotten Sad Spirit

Sociopathic traits aside, the music Varg "The Prisoner" Vikernes created in his one man project Burzum is something that should be valued outside of his extra-musical activities. This particular CD pairs up a couple of his earliest works and gives a peek into the mind of a tortured soul. While that may sound trite or goofy, the atmospheric and tonal quality of the production actually succeeds in creating the appropriate black metal mood of discomfort, inner turmoil and writhing demons. Vikernes' guitar riffing is fairly simple, melding a bit of disillusioned melody with tinges of the past, namely Celtic Frost and Bathory. (Actually, the first few seconds of "War" remind me highly of something Tom G. Warrior would have done.) Generally the riffs are catchy, as displayed on "Stemmen Fra Taarnet" or "My Journey to the Stars" Meanwhile the drumming is very akin to a rampaging pack of terrors from the netherworld. But it's Vikernes' terrified and excruciatingly painful vocals that are the striking part of the album. I've honestly never heard screams sounding so agonized and wrought with fright (though totally lacking in enunciation). This isn't the kind of music many are going to find palatable but at the same time, it is a necessary step in the evolution of black metal as a genre. Just don't emulate Vikernes' actions, kids.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 05/1999

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Det Som Engang Var

Burzum - Det Som Engang Var ©1992 Misanthropy
1. Den Onde Kysten
2. Key To The Gate
3. En Ring Til Aa Herske
4. Lost Wisdom
5. Han Som Reiste
6. Naar Himmelen Klarner
7. Snu Mikrosmos Tegn
8. Svarte Troner

Maybe it was Varg Vikernes' interest in knife collecting, but something took a little of the Burzum sharpness away on Det Som Engang Var. Frankly, this album - excepting vocals - is not anything extreme or revolutionary. The songs are generally mid-paced pieces that do not push one single envelope. This is not to say they are necessarily bad, just not exactly anything to change the way one perceives metal. If it weren't for Varg's quite painful sounding screams, not a whole lot would separate Det Som Engang Var from more traditional metal. He does, of course, prelude his Burzum: the Casio Years with three atmospheric/keyboard compositions, two of which aren't much different than what you might hear on a Controlled Bleeding record and the other ("Han Som Reiste") being a bit more structured. The guitar tonality overall is deeper and he does a credible job of mixing both riffing and slightly dissonant guitar harmonies. He also takes the time to add clean chanting in the background of a couple songs and not so much that you think he recorded the album in the garage of a monestary. Not nearly as stark and bleak as his earliest albums, Det Som Engang Var is the kind of album that is quite enjoyable if not so nearly as groundbreaking.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 05/1999

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Hvis Lyset Tar Oss

Burzum - Hvis Lyset Tar Oss ©1994 Misanthropy
1. Det Some En Gang Var
2. Hvis Lyset Tar Oss
3. Inn I Slottet Fra Droemmen
4. Tomhet ("Emptiness" - Instrumental)

It's a shame Christian Vikernes chose the path he did because he truly was onto something unique and magical with Hviss Lyset Tar Oss, his third album as Burzum. Although the album contains four songs, it still runs for three quarters of an hour and allows his lenghty compositions to realize themselves within these long structures. While the playing and songwriting features basic, very simple concepts of two or three chord changes, Vikernes somehow makes the repetitive nature of the music become nearly trancelike in execution. The guitars have a foggy buzz about them while keyboards offer a one or two note framework over which the rest of the music rides. The drumming also follows this mode of operation, acting as a speedy but repetitive backbone as well. Vikernes' screams are still some of the genre's most identifable. The four songs, with all their minimalistic tendencies, flow together very nicely and create what may possibly be Burzum's best record of his black metal era. The satisfying aspect of this record is that Burzum was able to take basic ideas, simple arrangements and only a handful of chords and still draw them out in a way that makes for wonderful music. Between the self-titled debut and this release, you have the essential Burzum releases which did much to solidify his place as one of black metal's truly innovative artists.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 08/2001

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Filosofem

Burzum - Filosofem ©1996 Misanthropy
1. Dunkelheit
2. Jesus' Tod
3. Erblicket Die Tüchter Des Firmaments
4. Gebrechlichkeit .i.
5. Rundgang Um Die Transzendentale Säule Der Singularität
6. Gebrechlichkeit .ii.

Filosofem represents Varg Vikernes' last pre-jail recording and exists as a dual entity of his two musical directions. The first half of the album is still within the expected realm of Burzum music: harsh, grating black metal with his signature guitar style, however a bit more trebly than necessary. His vocals took a bit of a backseat in the mix and sound more like Varg phoning in his lines over a bad connection than the chilling, terrified screams of his earlier work. As a result, Burzum sounds more commonplace than maybe he would have intended. Of the first four tracks, there is a large degree of repetition in guitar lines. The opener "Dunkelheit" is far too simplistic for its own good, never giving the listener a sense of journey and stagnates well before the end of the song. "Jesus' Tod" is a throwback to the fast assault of earlier work and it's only the waterfall of drum beats that saves it from being a two-chord bore. "Gebrechlichkeit .i." is frankly a throwaway track with Varg attempting to create atmosphere using the feedback wash that Bob Mould threw out in the early 80s and adding in sparse keyboard notes. One must really stretch to find anything remotely trance inducing or remarkable here. The second half of the album consists mostly of the twenty five minute ambient keyboard piece "Rundgang um die transzendentale säule der singularität". The sudden change into this quiet, repetitive track is possibly a bit disconcerting, but it is my favorite part of the album. While Varg didn't go out of his way to allow the track any sense of progression or change in the twenty five minutes, it makes nice background music the same way new age might be okay peripherally. To say he is breaking new ground is laughable, except maybe within the restrictive confines of a suffocating black metal scene. Filosofem is still Burzum throughout and though the album comes across far too static rather than active, it is an okay piece of work that a Burzum fan must have and black metal fans might do well in finding. I believe Varg's best work was in his earlier albums though, and Filosofem only solidifies that belief.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 06/1999

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Daudi Baldrs

Burzum - Daudi Baldrs ©1997 Misanthropy
1. Daudi Baldrs
2. Hermodr A Helferd
3. Balfero Baldrs
4. I Heimer Heljar
5. Illa Tidandi
6. Moti Ragnargkum

The release of Daudi Baldrs by Varg Vikernes' Burzum conclusively proves that the Norwegian prison system is obviously far too lax in their treatment of convicted murderers. In theory, those who take another's life should be the one being punished and not allowed to inflict punishment on music listeners worldwide. As it stands, Norway's policy of allowing Vargie to continually prostitute himself via outrageous media statements and truly bad new age music is nothing more than a bad reflection on that Scandanavian country. Let's just face it, any country that allows their prisoners to not only record, but release something this incredibly trite needs to face embargoes and scorn from the rest of nations of the world.

Since Vargie was unable to make his fairly worthwhile black metal music with the more traditional electric guitar, he decided that instead he should create something from a Casio keyboard and announce its deep importance to the universe. Unfortunately his ego is much greater than his ability to compose and this album is nothing more than what happens when a musician takes himself far too seriously. If you listen to these tracks, you can immediately catch the predictability and immensely pompus arrangements as Varg lacks the true compositional talent to take these tracks anywhere. Do a simple "one-two-three-four" count as the songs start and you'll discover how he came about his arrangements. On "Hermodr a Helferd", this particular reliance on that technique comes into full bloom. Do the count and at four the digital violin riff begins. Sadly there is nothing more to the song than repeating that formula several times and calling it a song. Unimaginative? You betcha. Truly compelling compositions display a much greater understanding of how various orchestration instruments, even digitally recreated ones, work together and this is basic, rudimentary knowledge to the point of embarrassment.

There is not a sole track on here worth the time it takes to hear it. Whether he's dwelling in repetitious behavior and lacking the creativity to do anything with the basic song patterns or putting forth somber yet entirely pompous dramatic tracks like "Balferd Baldrs", he is completely failing to show any sort of competency at this new avenue of work. Naturally his followers would have you believe this is the best ritual music since Casio was founded as a company but the truth is that this is unnecessary ego fluffing from one of the biggest media sluts in music today.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 07/2000

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