Review Summary: Fans of Hvis Lyset Tar Oss, will certainly enjoy the usual taste of Burzum in his second album. Emotionally charged music like this calls for brilliance.Burzum
has been a notorious name since the only member of the band, Varg Vikernes was emprisoned in 1993 for the arson of several churches and the murder of a former member in his fatherland of Norway. While some people may be deterred by his neo-nazist views and an inexplicable drive to the things he has done in the past, others simply look at his inspirations and how they have come down to producing a few of the best black metal albums to ever be created. Burzum stands by his words, and so do others; this is true black metal. Surrounded by feelings of impotence, darkness and his own insanity, Vikernes puts his experiences into notes in an admirable manner and creates an ambient black metal with sounds that can be reminiscent of the viking era; purely and crudely illustrating the Norse roots.
His sophomore album Det Som Engang Var
stands as a classic next to the infamous Hvis Lyset Tar Oss
, with a wide variety of elements and a groovy albeit very gloomy composition which tears open a remorseful past.
Now to pop some bubbles, I have no idea what Vikernes ponders over in his cell. I haven’t the faintest clue whether he regrets what he has done, but interpreting his feelings is a long and dingy embarkment. This album, supposedly released during the first few months of his imprisonment but already recorded before, could be considered an augury, what with it's solemn tone and 'maturity' of expression. The time was indeed ripe. For those who enjoyed his album Hvis Lyset Tar Oss
, this is something that is worth being listened to, as it is essential in the development of future sounds.
Right away, this album is quite different than anything Burzum has released. It's much more raw, devoid of a melodic base and constant drumming, more comparable to the self-titled predecessor. It's also probably the only album where the production is actually, perfect. Each track is rather experimental, embodying emotion while repetitively playing more straightforward riffs, which is pretty, well... groovy. Gloria Estefan was probably right; the rhythm is eventually going to get you. To some, a similar tune would sound completely trite, but having it played over is soothing and gives me a chance to “melt” into what Vikernes has to offer.
Only imagine the slaughter of a haggard soul in a dark room where the walls are tattered and everything else is desolate and dark. He is being eternally tortured to his near death, not for information, but as if he were being condemned for sorcery and mystical powers. That is not to say his scream is repetitive, because it is quite the contrary. The lyrics are in Norwegian, introducing the eerie and dark roots of medieval Scandinavia. The real womb of emotion is found in Varg's vocals which stand out as some of the best black metal vocals of all time. It is no different for the rest of the musical orchestra, as what is so amazing about the artist in general is that he is able to introduce each element in such a manner that it promotes a feeling. Each riff that is pummeled is smeared with an intention; the guitars are deep and brittle, at times graced with a tremolo. They play on a lower note in this album compared to the others; its not the most dismal component, but it still does a good job in remaining sharp and unrelentingly painful. Den Onde Kysten
, is a deep interlude with rattling effects added to symbolize the pain which is so clearly illustrated in an abstract image rendered by the guitar. It sets a wonderful and introductory atmosphere into the album, which foreshadows what the rest of the album contains.
’s music has taken me there; he has vividly created an interlinking path between my life and his. It is nothing I would be able to see in reality, but what encloses us through means of thick and confined walls is transferred so clearly and purely with ambient and symphonic black metal. Key to the Gate
kicks off with an awfully disturbed and out of place melody, which then follows with groovy and roaring riffs, and I couldn’t possible ask for more as the tortured and raspy scream of the Count emerges. Towards the middle, the atmosphere is appeased little by little, and the tortured screams then turn hopeless and impotently deprived of strength.
Why did I come to this world
Of sorrow why is this true
Where is my dagger of sacrifice
I will open the gate to Hell one day...
- Key to the Gate
Enjoyable melodies such as Lost Wisdom
, make use of the guitars to make alternating riffs, and some nice bridges which transfer you to yet another musical sequence. The guitars are down-tuned and create a strong but gloomy atmosphere. This is taken further with the next song Han Som Reiste
, which describes a long persistent journey; strarring Varg on his awesome toy piano. It is played in a way that is sad, but which also shows a ray of hope. A great refreshing way to divide the album, and to brush into the next song which retakes the original intensity. Naar himmelen klarner
, or when the sky clears. This is a heavy song which suffers the repercussions of the bass and somehow differentiates itself from the rest of the songs. The song has a more thrusting attitude and feature peril instead of inducing sorrow; its solemn but it is thirsty for vengeance as well. The drum kicks in as it is time to embark upon Snu Mikrokosmos Tegn
. This track remains heavy, but also has reinforcement from the battering of the drums, and the regenerated tormenting screech. A perfect harmonization is achieved in this track.
Many are up to speed about the dark history of Varg Vikernes. He is a man who is strongly driven by principles and beliefs, unfortunately too strongly. Some may call him an uninformed socialist. Many are deterred from the music as they take into account the racist and neo-nazist views of this mysterious figure. In 1993, he assassinated a friend, Euronymus, in his apartment. Apparently, there had been a conspiracy against Varg prior to this, that he was going to be back stabbed. Varg acted upon this information, but there is still unstable evidence to justify this; especially since he also put fire to several churches in Norway. The history that lays behind the man makes his creations more realistic, and not something that for him was unequivocal, but based on what he had experienced. This is strangely portrayed in Svarte Troner
, where he gives out noises that are horrid, and confirm his madness; an extremely random blend of noises.
Denied by the blind church
Cause these are not the words of God
The same God that burnt the
- Lost Wisdom
Of course, Burzum
was also inspired by Lord of the Rings, and the ending track En Ring Til Å Herske
proves this in a raw and progressive manner. Finally, I have no tracks to recommend because they are all unique and awesome. The remaining Burzum
is low on man-power, but this one stealthy figure has proven to be so exuberant. A man who knows himself, but who other don’t know, Count Grishnackh has opened another realm, and an epilogue to the emotion that he has put up with. It is now up to the listener to explore him and reciprocate the emotion that he conveys. Each song on Det Som Engang Var
is different, but complicit of one another, and approaches the sorrow and solemnity in a different instrumental manner. I have never seen, apart from Mirrorthrone, one mastermind who utilizes everything with such proficiency, and I definitely have to recommend to anyone who is a fan of this kind of music. It is an instant classic!