Burzum
Det som engang var


4.5
superb

Review

by Kalle J. USER (37 Reviews)
May 2nd, 2007 | 249 replies | 24,743 views


Release Date: 1993 | Tracklist

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.

17 of 17 thought this review was well written

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.

Burzum’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
Knowing
- 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!



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user ratings (602)
Chart.
4
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Altmer
May 2nd 2007



5652 Comments


Excellent review, but I don't like this style of metal.

TheHamburgerman
May 2nd 2007



1283 Comments


indeed a mighty fine review.

Angmar
May 2nd 2007



2689 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Wow, really good review. This might be my favorite Buzum album, I havn't decided yet. Key to the Gate owns in every way.

Monticello
May 2nd 2007



805 Comments


You are a reviewing machine, that's 2 today isn't it?
I love the description of the vocals, it's so right.

kalkal50
May 2nd 2007



2386 Comments


Hehe yes I was a reviewing machine today, thnx for the great comments.

Wish
May 2nd 2007



262 Comments


Epic review, epic album.
The solo/leads in Key to the Gate are excellent. I'm still waiting for my copy to arrive in the mail

kalkal50
May 2nd 2007



2386 Comments


I would order it too, but its annoying to wait for it

omg it costs 11 euro on amazon.de.. what a rip off
This Message Edited On 05.02.07

Cravinov13
May 2nd 2007



3854 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I have it. I got it from Amazon :p

This album owns.

rattlehead42147
May 2nd 2007



1345 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

superb review, it's not often that I have to break out the dictionary
I am a huge fan of Hvis Lyset Tar Oss, I am going to order this or Burzum/Aske

Eakflanderyof
May 3rd 2007



2143 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Excellent review. Everything you said is so true. I'm starting to like this album more than HLTO. I may up my rating soon. Key to the Gate is easily one of the greatest songs of all time. There is so much emotion in it.

ValiumMan
May 3rd 2007



493 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0


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 tortured to his near death, not for information, but as if he were being crucified for sorcery.

I think he sounds like some crazy old hag screaming "get out of my house!" or something along those lines, but whatever, it's still nicely written.
Apart from the fact that I think you massively overrate this and I disagree with nearly everything you wrote, this sure was one elaborate and just generally awesome piece of writing there. Pos.

kalkal50
May 3rd 2007



2386 Comments


Usually I would agree with you. The music itself is poopy, a madman that he is multi-tasking on like a thousand instruments in prison. But, its what I get out of it that I think deserves a 5, the general atmosphere that hes able to create.This Message Edited On 05.03.07

Confessed2005
May 3rd 2007



3314 Comments


I desperately need to acquire some Burzum.

Eakflanderyof
May 3rd 2007



2143 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

The music here is definitely not poopy. There are a lot of really awesome riffs here along with the great dark atmosphere that Burzum is known for.

And is it coincidence that I know someone who also said that Varg sounding like some old hag screaming "get out of my yard!"

No old lady can make such emotional screeches.

kalkal50
May 4th 2007



2386 Comments


meh sorry not poopy, expressed myself wrong there.. more like elemental, i still looovee it


ValiumMan
May 4th 2007



493 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

No old lady can make such emotional screeches.
Not if you illicitly enter her house. Never understimate the grannies.
Anyway, I get your point, Burzum is indeed very special music and it's amazing what kinda atmospheres Varg creates with the simple setup he uses. Still, I think this ain't his best album. It feels sorta like a transition from the amateurish mess (c'mon, let's be honest) of his debut to the more ethereal stuff he's done on HLTO and Filosofem to me. But that's my two cents/intuition.
On another note, I hate Varg for who he is, even though I like his music. Have you read those essays on his site (burzum.org)? That's some of the most whiny, self-important shit I've read in years. Reveals a lot about him.

rattlehead42147
May 4th 2007



1345 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

@ confessed
if you want i can get you Hvis Lyset Tar Oss, it is very good

kalkal50
May 5th 2007



2386 Comments


Ye but I don't care about Burzum as a person. I mean I do hate him, but I focus on his music.

rattlehead42147
May 5th 2007



1345 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

^good way to look at it, he really is very radical in his views, i stopped listening to burzum for a period of about 2 days when i found out how racist he was, then i decided to put that behind me... his music is genious. the only way i would not listen to burzum is if the music/lyrics focused on racial views or white supremacism, etc. seeing as they don't the music is quite enjoyableThis Message Edited On 05.05.07

Slaapkamers
May 5th 2007



596 Comments


um he isn't nearly as radical as you think he is



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