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Varg Vikernes, undoubtedly one of the most notorious members of black metal culture, created this album while he was on parole from prison. Due to the fact that Varg now had many more instruments at his disposal than synthesizers, he was back to making black metal. The last black metal album he had made was 1996's Filosofem which was considered by many to be one of the greatest black metal creations of all time. So the question flowing through everyone's head upon Varg's return was "Can he continue writing good music?" In answer to that question, Varg created this album and gave a victorious "Yes!" in response. This is actually the album that got me into Burzum's music, and contains some fantastic black metal.
The opening track starts this album off in a rather odd way. The sound effects appear to be glass bottles dropping onto a cement floor. Despite the peculiar introduction to the album, "Belus' Død" brings out a black metal punch. The song is rather forgettable once you hear the other tracks that the album has to offer, but it's still solid. "Glemselens Elv" is where the album really picks up. The guitars on this song create a beautiful atmosphere and make a sonic wall which is both enjoyable to listen to and excellently crafted. While the song is rather long, it's one of the stand out tracks on the album. The song even has some clean vocal moments which are actually used very well. "Kaimadalthas' Nedstigning" has a speedier pace and makes for a nice transition to keep the album moving. "Sverddans", while a short song, has a powerful guitar riff and the vocals add to the dark atmosphere of the track. "Keliohesten" adds some more faster-paced moments to the album and "Morgenrøde" adds more to the album in the form of atmosphere. The album ends in a colossal wall of sound created by guitar layers. It's a completely instrumental track, but is another highlight of the album to me due to how entrancing the song is.
There are plenty of other qualities about this album which made me enjoy listening to it. For instance, I enjoy the guitar tone a lot more on this album than on Filosofem. It's far less droning and not quite as loud. Vocally, Varg sounds a lot more like a typical black metal vocalist. This is also a plus to me because the vocals on Filosofem were another reason I didn't enjoy the 1996 album.
A couple of the song lengths might put off some listeners as well as the repetitive nature of the guitars throughout the album. While I don't mind the repetition due to how atmospheric and well-crafted the guitar-work on this album is, some people will become annoyed with the lack of change. The only faults I find in this album are that the opening track served no real function and there are some moments throughout the songs which can be a bit tedious, even for me. Other than these slight faults, the album is solid and far more enjoyable for me than Varg's 1996 creation. I recommend this album to anyone who wants to get a taste of great black metal.