Burzum
Hvis Lyset Tar Oss


4.5
superb

Review

by Fugue USER (58 Reviews)
August 23rd, 2010 | 99 replies | 7,242 views


Release Date: 1994 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Hvis Lyset Tar Oss is a monumental record and essential for any fan of either extreme metal or ambient music in general.

10 of 10 thought this review was well written

Loneliness is a difficult concept to convey in words but of course it can be done. The Collins English Dictionary defines it as "the unhappiness that is felt by someone because they do not have any friends or do not have anyone to talk to.", however, I feel it has a deeper meaning, for to be in a state of true loneliness you must be in isolation, trapped within yourself to such a degree that you fail to comprehend even the faintest notion of friendship. To be truly lonely, you must also be completely irrevocably insane. Therefore it logically follows that the conceptualisation of loneliness with words is nigh impossible. However with music it is possible to display emotions and ideas on a far grander scale than mere words could ever hope for and it is with this idea that we reach Burzum's masterpiece Hvis Lyset Tar Oss. Not only is this album arguably one of the greatest black metal albums in history it also, in my eyes at least, conveys loneliness in the most beautiful fashion, and gives true definition to the word.

Burzum, of course, is the one man project of the much publicised Varg Vikernes, a man known for undertaking the most heinous of crimes in taking the life of a fellow human being. It has long been said that genius and madness go hand in hand and while Hvis... was written and recorded before such deeds it is obvious that Vikernes possessed a mind capable of such thoughts long beforehand. It is from this tormented mind that the dark, harrowing landscapes that infest Hvis... arise, perhaps shown best through album opener Det Som En Gang Var. Vikernes wastes no time in creating a tenebrous atmosphere. Until now, the use of electronics on Burzum albums had been strictly limited, however from the get-go of Det Som En Gang Var they are used liberally, effectively building a haunting atmosphere and creating an uncomfortable tension. As the anxiety reaches a climax a growing, tumultuous drum beat signal the beginning of the storm, discordant guitar riffs interlacing the synth background. Moments later Vikernes distinct vocals are introduced: a sharp, piercing shriek followed by a raspier, dry howl.

Despite being only four tracks long, the lengths of the compositions make up for this small hindrance, giving a full length musical experience. The following tracks utilise techniques similar to those found on Det Som En Gang Var, with the majority of variation coming from the relative abundances of these stock components. Take, for example, the recurring electronic motif found in Det Som En Gang Var, which creates a vastly different tone and environment to the driving onslaught of Inn I Slottet Fra Drømmen or the aggressive, vocal-led hostility that is the title track. Vikernes masters the understated art of moderation, changing the intensity and timbre of both the instruments and his own vocals superbly, generating both a rougher texture and in turn preventing the deep moods from overwhelming the listener. This diversity keeps the record from becoming stale, and what could initially be viewed as three long, drawn-out minimalist compositions become instead three superb black metal tracks.

However it is often said that the best things are saved for last, and this album is no exception; as it is final track Tomhet that is truly the masterpiece here. After the near-relentless onslaught of Inn I Slottet Fra Drømmen, Tomhet provides a welcome respite; the calming ambience illustrating a stark contrast from its predecessor. While a fourteen minute instrumental may seem redundant, especially on with such limited chord progressions, Tomhet actually manages to connect on a far deeper emotional level than any of the three tracks before it. Although it could be argued the soporific approach fabricates unsatisfactory results with the overly repetitive riffs deemed monotonous, it is such repetition that ensures the true beauty and terror of isolation is portrayed magnificently within. Importantly, Tomhet’s strengths lie not just in the music present but also in what is left out. Whereas Hvis Lyset Tar Oss and Det Som Engang Var were reliant on the obvious vocal strengths of Vikernes to emphasise the atmosphere; Tomhet is entirely instrumental, giving Vikernes musicianship chance to shine and importantly, allowing the listener a chance to saturate themselves in the melancholic atmosphere. Subtle, teasing layers of synthesizers gradually build this ambiance, furthered still by a refreshing woodwind section which increases the distinct contrast from the preceding tracks, utilising a full spectrum of subtle nuances to distinguish itself completely from the rest of the album.

Ending on a high Hvis Lyset Tar Oss utilises Tomhet superbly, using the peaceful tranquillity to direct the listener away from the few weaknesses found on the titular track. While there are a few too many similarities between the opener and second track Hvis Lysett Tar Oss this tiny flaw is negligible in comparison to the overall musical quality and adds no more than a slight tarnish to the record. Regardless of this, nothing should be taken away from the sheer magnificence this record and it is easy to see why Hvis... is regarded as one of the finest works in its genre. As a creative outlet, Varg Vikernes would use the minimalist techniques explored on Tomhet to explore ambience in more detail, culminating with his next release Filosofem. While both his earlier recordings and Filosofem undoubtedly possess superb tracks, they also contain moments of weakness far greater than anything found here. Such is the consistency of Hvis... it is easy for even the most casual of listeners to appreciate the subtleties within, and it is this ability to be enjoyed by those who dislike black metal as a whole that raises it above its contemporaries.

Recommended Tracks
Det Som En Gang Var
Tomhet

Overall 4.5 Superb



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Fugue
August 23rd 2010



7352 Comments


Honest to God it's been so long I forgot how to submit a review... not my best work but hopefully it makes sense.

Terrifyer
August 23rd 2010



3403 Comments


Not only is this album inarguably one of the greatest black metal albums in history it also
i would change that to arguably, for obvious reasons

It has long been said that genius and madness go hand in hand and while [Hvis...[/i] was written
coding error

great review. the recommendd tracks looks a bit silly though, cos its 3/4 of the album :P

SCREAM!
August 23rd 2010



10035 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Very nicely done. Sounds like a 5 but i guess 4.5 is so high the distinctions can get blurred in reviews. Theres a coding error in the 2nd paragraph and the recced tracks section is pretty useless since there is only 4 in total and you rec 3

Digging: Old Witch - Come Mourning Come

SCREAM!
August 23rd 2010



10035 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

damnit terrifyer

Ire
August 23rd 2010



41754 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

dammit scream

Hawks
August 23rd 2010



35623 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Yeah you should probably get rid of the recommended tracks. Other than that it was a really good review. Of course the album rules. Det Som Engang Var is the best track he has ever made.

Digging: Engraved - Before The Tales

Nikkolae
August 23rd 2010



4837 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

tl;drc

however what i did read was looking pretty good, so you get a possy pos'd pos'd

Digging: Pallbearer - Foundations of Burden

Terrifyer
August 23rd 2010



3403 Comments


If the whole album was as good as the first and last tracks this would be a 5 for me

Fugue
August 23rd 2010



7352 Comments


Thanks for the editing guys, should be all fixed now. Yeah not sure about the recommended tracks bit either, I mean I try to put it in all my reviews and obviously the higher the rating, the higher the proportion of reccomended tracks I try to put in...Edited it to just the two.

Glad y'all liked the review though, honestly this could easily be a 5.

East Hastings
August 23rd 2010



4391 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

told u i'd pos

Fugue
August 23rd 2010



7352 Comments


Gracias.

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
August 23rd 2010



16310 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

"Det Som En Gang Var" is one of the best bm songs ever.

Hyperion1001
Staff Reviewer
August 23rd 2010



18311 Comments


Det Som En Gang Var is the quintessential black metal song. This is a 5, no matter what way you look at it. It's one of those records that, even if you hate the genre, you can't dispute that it's absolutely classic.

But, still, this was a good review. Rating just needs to be bumped up .5. Have a pos.

Digging: Shed - Shot Selection

KILL
August 23rd 2010



71454 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

great review fosho

Digging: Invisible - El jardin de los presentes

XulOnerom
August 23rd 2010



1818 Comments


I second getting rid of the recommended tracks. It doesn't work that well if the album has 4 tracks

Hawks
August 23rd 2010



35623 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Det Som Engang Var or Transilvanian Hunger? That's a tough one.

Terrifyer
August 23rd 2010



3403 Comments


neither.

really late now, gonna listen to this and drift off nighty night

eternium
August 23rd 2010



16337 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Not tough. Transilvanian Hunger is overrated.

XulOnerom
August 23rd 2010



1818 Comments


123, eternium

eternium
August 23rd 2010



16337 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Under a Funeral Moon and A Blaze in the Northern Sky are soooo much better albums than that. Better songs too. This is my favorite black metal album so far, though I haven't explored the genre much.



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