Burzum
The Ways of Yore


3.5
great

Review

by Nash J. CONTRIBUTOR (40 Reviews)
June 12th, 2014 | 219 replies


Release Date: 06/02/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: For what it's worth, The Ways of Yore is Burzum’s first fully-realized dark ambient effort.

One thing that can be said about Burzum’s Sol Austan, Mani Vestan is that it was certainly a step in the right direction. There is no denying that Burzum has been losing relevance to the world of music with each passing year, and after the release of the insufferably dull Umpskiptar in 2012, it seemed likely that Varg Vikernes had completely lost what little remained of his inspiration, as well as his sanity. With that being said, it became necessary for Burzum to undergo a complete change in sound. After all, Varg had changed much since Burzum’s glory days, and his attempts to rekindle the atmospheric black metal sound present on albums such as Det Som Engang Var and Filosofem always fell flat. Thus, 2013’s Sol Austan, Mani Vestan was an entirely different venture than the nine albums preceding it. Although Burzum is no stranger to the genre of dark ambience, for the first time the concept truly felt fleshed-out. Unfortunately, despite undoubtedly being an improvement from Umpskiptar, Sol Austan, Mani Vestan was a rather boring, sleep-inducing affair, suffering from a long running-length and repetitive song structure. With that being said, it was forgivable to be underwhelmed by the release of Burzum’s eleventh studio album, The Ways of Yore.

Touted as being a continuation of Sol Austan, Mani Vestan’s dark ambient sound; The Ways of Yore has Varg turning his focus to old European music, specifically that of the Norse persuasion. As a result, the ambience created on The Ways of Yore is much more organic-sounding than any other of Burzum’s ambient releases. While acoustic guitars, bass, and percussion were present on Sol Austan, Mani Vestan, they were generally used more for effect or to compliment the synthesizer melodies. Here, these instruments are utilized more frequently, often taking center stage on songs such as “The Portal” in order to allow the synthesizer to float around delicately in the background. In addition, many of the songs on the album feature spoken, sung, and chanted vocals from Varg himself. The interesting organic nature of the album helps give it a unique identity from Burzum’s other ambient releases.

Although far from perfect, this album greatly benefits from having a clear and compelling overall vision. Gorgeous medieval melodies and lyrics focused around Norse mythology help give The Ways of Yore an incredibly strong atmosphere. Vivid imagery is present throughout the entire album, with each track painting a similar picture of the ancient time period in which the album is set. “The Reckoning of Man” serves as the album’s emotional highlight, with softly spoken vocals, melancholy synthesizer melodies, and waves of bright ambience creating a tragic, yet uplifting atmosphere. While Burzum’s focus on the album’s concept helps make The Ways of Yore a cohesive and engaging listen, it also detracts from the listening experience as a whole. The repetitive tonality and lack of dynamism over the course of the album leads to songs being individually unmemorable; a problem shared by its predecessor as well, but to a larger extent. Furthermore, while Varg’s vocals help create imagery and undeniably make the album’s atmosphere seem more authentic, they also hurt the album more than anything else. For instance, on tracks “Heil Odinn” and “Heil Freyja,” Varg chants in an irritatingly amelodic manner, slurring words together akin to a drunk old man. The sung vocals on “Ek Fellr (I Am Falling)” suffer from the same issue and become grating long before the song reaches its end. With the exception of the spoken vocals utilized on tracks such as “The Reckoning of Man” and “Hall of the Fallen,” which actually add to the album’s serene atmosphere, Varg’s vocals are simply too annoying and over-the-top to be truly effective. The vocals end up ruining a few of the shorter songs, but luckily have no effect on the longer arrangements that fill up most of the album.

For what it’s worth, The Ways of Yore is Burzum’s first fully-realized dark ambient effort, as well as arguably his best release since Filosofem. It is a pleasant listen loaded with emotional atmospheres and trance-inducing ambience. Although it is easy to be put off by the album’s hour-long running time, most tracks flow together so cohesively that the whole affair seems much shorter than it truly is; unlike Sol Austan, Mani Vestan, which seemed to drag endlessly. The Ways of Yore improves on many aspects that plagued Burzum’s past six releases, but is by no means flawless. At times, the album can be rather repetitive and quite self-indulgent in its atmosphere. Still, The Ways of Yore easily tops Burzum’s other ambient releases, and will hopefully assist in restoring Varg Vikernes’s long-lost musical credibility.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Judio!
Contributing Reviewer
June 12th 2014


6263 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

This gets my vote for Varg's best post-prison release, even though, as I pointed out in the comment section of the Sol Austan review last year, that's really not saying much. It's not excellent by any means but if you dig Burzum's ambient stuff, I don't see why you wouldn't dig this as well.

Thanks for reading, and as always constructive criticism is welcome.

Digging: Porcupine Tree - In Absentia

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
June 12th 2014


31341 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

Definitely enjoyed parts of this

Judio!
Contributing Reviewer
June 12th 2014


6263 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Parts of the album are really nice, yeah, especially the longer tunes. Really enjoyed the remix of
"Tomhet" in particular.

Amphoteric
June 12th 2014


1934 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

"The repetitive tonality and lack of dynamism over the course of album leads to songs being individually unmemorable"

Forgot a 'the' before the world album.

"Furthermore, while Varg’s vocals help create imagery and undeniably make the album’s atmosphere seem more authentic, they are also hurt the album more than anything else."

Unnecessary 'are' in the last part of the sentence.

Great review, though I don't think this tops Hlidskjalf; Hlidskjalf is such an underrated album. I maintain that "Der Tod Wuotans" is one of the best dark ambient tracks I've heard, lol.

Digging: NxxxxxS - Fujita Scale

Judio!
Contributing Reviewer
June 12th 2014


6263 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Nice catches, Amphoteric, just edited those out. I need to relisten to Hlidskjalfohkldghs6uila, I
remember it being dull but I only listened to it once so maybe it'll grow on me.

laughingman22
June 12th 2014


1798 Comments


great review gave me a good picture of what this albums sounds like

Digging: Peter Christopherson - Time Machines II

Tyrael
June 12th 2014


20893 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

This isn't that bad

ScuroFantasma
June 12th 2014


2214 Comments


good review man, i think i need to check this, sounds like something i might like and i've been meaning to check Burzum for a whle now

Digging: Eterknight - Ragnarok

osmark86
June 12th 2014


4405 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

interesting. didn't have a clue Burzum was set for a 2014 release. gonna hafta check this innit

Digging: Falls of Rauros - Believe in No Coming Shore

Artuma
June 12th 2014


14316 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

eh, not again a fully ambient album. sol austan was pretty gay, i enjoyed belus and fallen a lot so i would like to hear something along the lines of those albums

Digging: Fleurety - Min Tid Skal Komme

Artuma
June 12th 2014


14316 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

but good review have a pos

Judio!
Contributing Reviewer
June 12th 2014


6263 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Thanks guys!

And Artuma, this is definitely more of an ambient release than Belus and Fallen were. A lot of parts of this are similar in style in structure to Sol Austan but with vocals and not boring. There aren't any riffs or anything like that here, so don't expect it to sound like either Fallen or Belus or you may be disappointed. This album is its own thing.

Artuma
June 12th 2014


14316 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

he's capable of good ambient music, hlidskjalf is pretty underrated imo. however i'm a little afraid of this, gonna check this tho

Underflow
June 12th 2014


2579 Comments


Really dig the album art.

Digging: Flying Lotus - You're Dead!

emester
June 12th 2014


3903 Comments


Nice review as always Judio. Doubt I'll enjoy this (not the biggest fan of Burzum or at least very picky about what I like). Pretty curious if Varg actually stepped up his game

Digging: Falls of Rauros - Believe in No Coming Shore

Judio!
Contributing Reviewer
June 12th 2014


6263 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Thank you, emester! It's one hell of a step up from the last two albums, and I'd argue it's his best in a long time, even though I did enjoy Fallen. But I mean if you're not a fan of Burzum or only like his well-known black metal stuff, you probably won't find much of value here.

Artuma
June 12th 2014


14316 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

ok this wasn't bad at all. even though the cover of tomhet seemed a little pointless it made me recall his glory days

Futures
June 12th 2014


11631 Comments


really not expecting anything from this but i might jam. the single was boring as fuck.

Digging: Mock Orange - Nines & Sixes

Artuma
June 12th 2014


14316 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

dude jam hvis instead

Dryden
June 12th 2014


12928 Comments


dont



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