In old Norse mythology, Hlidskjalf was the high seat of Odin (chief God in Norse mythology), which enabled him to see into all worlds. It's strange that the most recent (and perhaps final) Burzum album was named this, seeing as how his last album was named Daudi Baldrs, meaning in English "Death of Baldr". Also rooted in Norse mythology, it is said that Hlidskjalf was used by Odin to find Loki (the Norse God of Fire) after he had fled from the scene where he murdered Baldr. A connection maybe? The only person who would know this for sure would be the mastermind of Burzum, Varg Vikernes. What is unfolding before us, in Burzum's new ambient-driven style, could be a rough tale of Norse mythology, seeing as Vikernes no longer writes songs in English or even contributes vocals to the albums. Varg now spends his time in a lonely prison cell with a keyboard and a computer, meaning that Burzum is only a mere fraction of what it used to be.
Gracing the cover of Hlidskjalf
is an eerie portrayal of lonely woods in the dead of night, with the ominous moon shining its ghostly white rays down through the trees. A shrine of some sort sits in the woods, carved of stone and all alone. It's a truly powerful cover, with it being hand drawn by Vikernes, so you get a look into his relatively unstable frame of mind. With my Vinyl copy came a sheet with what seems to be lyrics on it, even though not a single word is spoken throughout the album's playtime. It may be a story, or perhaps it's what the lyrics would of been had Varg possessed a microphone. All the words aren't in English, although an English translation is provided underneath. Lastly, there is the record itself.
The music is so far out there, so monumentally different from anything Burzum has done besides Daudi Baldrs
. No, there aren't any guitars. No, there aren't any vocals. No, there isn't any bass. All we have here are electronic effects and a keyboard. It's technically not even Black Metal at all, going so far as to not even being classified as metal, the only shred of Black Metal you would find on this entire album is the name Burzum. What is created here is a very dark and brooding form of ambient, showing the dismal and bleak atmosphere that Burzum portrayed so well in earlier offerings. Most of this album can be compared to the track Tomhet
of the classic Hvis Lyset Tar Oss
, with a very slow pace and not much technicality in the music at all.
Since a lot of the music sounds exactly the same, it's hard to point out specific tracks and differentiate them from the others, but as a whole they sort of melt into one giant, 33 minute track. The opening of Der Tod Wuotans
is fairly unique, with a single drum beating behind the synthesizers and keyboard, giving it a distinct Medieval-era tone. Ansuzgardaraiwo
is one of the "heavier" tracks on this album, with a lot of crashing electronic effects which give off a more dense feeling than most of the other songs. Die Liebe Nerpus
is a personal favorite in its simplicity and calming effect. The keyboard is very prominent here and plays a serene and melancholic line before it is layered with another keyboard and what seems to be a cymbal in the background. Die Kraft Des Mitgefuhls
is another track which brings out the darker and more hateful side of this album, amazingly creating this atmosphere with much simplistic sounds.
, Burzum shows a drastic improvement over Daudi Baldrs
, but still falls very far short of what Burzum has put out in the past. Varg Vikernes is a better songwriter than this, maybe if he had access to normal instruments this album would be much different, but this is the Burzum that is most likely here to stay. To call this Black Metal would be an outright lie, but to call it ambient would be much more fitting. A great album to relax to, an even better album to fall asleep to, Hlidskjalf
is a great portrayal of the dark, lonely world that Burzum will dwell in, forevermore.