Review Summary: Filosofem channels emotion through a raw and beautifully simple compilation of ambient black metal.
Imagine an obscure, confined room with only a small window which is positioned at a distance that is out of reach. As you lay in a corner, enshrouded by the reigning shadow, the daylight feebly crawls its way through the thick crevice. You are a soul detached and deprived of the outside world. This is the life of Varg Vikernes, the enigmatic creator of the Burzum
project, charged with the murder of a former member and the arson of several churches across Norway. After pursuing his lost obsession, he released several albums which fall, according to consensus, into the black metal genre. His 1996 release Filosofem
is a completely new ideology, implicating sentiment such as anger, nostalgia and impotence. Influenced by Norwegian mythology, the sole remnant of the group creates music which per se is emblematic of all the facets of a certain emotion; his music mellifluously staggers and transitions vividly through each one. This release is bombarded with emotion.
6 songs adequately and complicity make up a blurry perfection, and excel in making themselves individual; sometimes simplicity can be the answer. Vikernes successfully draws the auditor into a world of his pains, his thoughts and feelings. The length of the songs represents the unrelenting pain that haunts him from day to day, and the more intense tracks induce connotations of a bandage being ripped off, its painful but the harm quickly subsides, representing the ratio of extremity to time. What I love about old Scandinavian epic based music are the raw elements which lay a sturdy foundation to the whole experience. Imagine a river; it flows serenely and meanders as it innocently crosses the path that life has lain out for it. The river is beautiful, and when it has completed its course, it starts over, fulfilling its cycle of life. Everything, subconsciously is like a river, where for others, paths may intertwine and some may oscillate even more. We can all take natures elements and somehow bestow it as a core upon our more complex life. This is exactly like Burzum
's music; the musicianship is an virgin yet unblemished experience which crudely conveys emotions in an manner that is conspicuous both implicitly and explicitly.
Down-tuned guitars introduce Burzum
, the self-titled track. We begin to see a more classical and atmospheric musical side of the project here; the guitars are extremely fuzzed, as if electronic radio-waves constantly kept streaming out. This in turn creates a brittle obstacle which, if looked at in a personified manner, represents the bars which Vikernes so hopelessly cannot get through. The guitars infringe sometimes upon this tattered noise, but only to be muffled along with the vocals, which sadly have now been distorted, revealing only the core of the tortured scream that I so cherished as a whole in "Hvis Lyset Tar Oss". Speaking of Burzum
's previous material, people who love the style which defines the band will know that they are very repetitive, which I still surprisingly enjoy. The violent battering of the drums is feebly distinguished while the lead guitars alter between a higher and a lower tone schematic in Jesus Död
, only to be broken down by a technical ripple effect. As the drums persist, the guitars become rhythmic sirens which follow through to the outro of the track.
Beholding the Daughters of Firmament
is yet a more melancholic tune, where the guitars have died down and are distorted heavily to heave an emotional boulder. A guitar makes its entrance which adds variation to the song, and I was quite pleased with this inauguration. The vocals have as mentioned, been narrowed quite a lot to a voice reminiscent of someone’s throat being x-rayed; only the raspy part remains. A drastic change to the vocals is what makes me less in favour of this album compared to their previous one, where the vocals underlined the ferocious agony concealed within Count Grishnackh. The album seems to have undergone a huge technical change, blinded by the dominating bass. Decrepitude I
is embellished, and primarily features the ambient music the band is able to create. The guitars are very disintegrated, and sluggishly repeat a down-tuned melody while Vikernes vocals drown in the ambiance-procured misery. A very lengthy 25 minutes is then featured under Rundtgåing Av Den Transcendentale Egenbetens Stötte
, transcending to the profundity of pure ambiance as correctly denoted by the title. Like a ballad of brittle and musical rain drops breaking down, they are accompanied by a tremolo which slowly fades out with the help of a volume pedal; the song is excellent in that you are able to literally travel through your mind and “trandescend”, surpassing through the gateway that is your mind into other lifeforms. A great soothing ballad, which will actually guarantee a more stress-free living; something even issued by shrinks.
The final track Decrepitude II
is similar to the last one, but the bass and guitar also play a role here; and is a round-up of all the formerly used elements. This is an auspiciously effective way to end the album and seal what is left of Filosofem
, and as I am about to seal this account as well, I can safely say there aren’t any tracks to recommend, more explicitly because there are only 6 of them, but mostly because they all depict something completely different and unique, and just like the natural elements we live off, they are all vital to aggregating into our lives. Filosofem
is the convention of feelings, just like on all other Burzum
albums; but in a way they all relate to serenity or melancholy, somehow approached differently. This isn’t your run-of-the-mill black metal, its one that’s raw, implementing ambiance and affiliation between the mind and soul. It’s even hard to say that it corresponds to black metal, but the primitive classical tunes protrudes light on the simplicity that surrounds us.
In reality, all these elements have successfully been achieved, but when I look at the bar that has already been raised by the artist, I can say that they haven’t got high enough. The pinnacle of their endeavors will require true determination to emulate, and while I have described this album as celestial, it is still lacking in some minor details. Regardless of that, Filosofem is, on a world scale, an excellent, no, magnificent album which really makes you speculate over the what has become of the modern contenders in the genre. Perhaps, they are working off of the primitive elements which have laid out the groundwork, or, perhaps Burzum
really is the definition of innovation.