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Burzum and Varg Vickernes… Everybody has his own opinion on this guy, his views (religious and especially political), his deeds and his music; some hate him, some worship him, but no one is careless. Personally I don’t really follow Grishnackh’s opinions and ideas, but I do have deep respect for this guy for standing behind his views and visions for so many years and not giving up. Even if he meets so many problems (like recently with the French police) he still says what he thinks and beliefs in – and for that I can only respect and even admire Varg. As for the music of Burzum – well, there are some LPs like “Filosofem” and “Hvis lyset tar oss”, which are pure masterpieces, but at the same time I must admit that I never really followed the ambient era Burzum and do not care much about “Daudi Baldrs” or whatever… And obviously there are also the two now legendary debut releases from Deathlike Silence – “Burzum” LP and “Aske” MLP. Well, the thing with these two recordings is that back in the 90’s I only had them on cassette and later they became so bloody expensive (on vinyl especially) that I didn’t bother to get them on the two original versions. And nowadays it’s too easy to get fucked with some worthless Greek bootleg versions, which some fuckers released to earn easy money, so again I am not bothered about these two LPs (they even made these bootlegs look like the legendary Deathlike Silence editions). Well, for that they’ll surely get impaled on the unholy cock of jesus the jew – as this is the only faith they deserve… but where am I going with all this? Well, I just try to say that while the separate first press vinyls of “Burzum” and “Aske” are so expensive and risky, then I am just happy to have them on this 2005 Back On Black vinyl version, where both recordings have been compiled on a double vinyl. OK, for some collectors this version may be as worthless as the Greek bootleg, but honestly I don’t care… at least this is an official release, I didn’t have to pay too much for it back in 2005 and more so, I also didn’t make one Greek asshole more reach. All positives…
But there’re couple of things, which I don’t like about this Back on Black edition of “Burzum / Aske”. First and foremost, I hate the fact that they dropped the “Burzum” version of “A Lost Forgotten Sad Spirit” on it, leaving only the version originally featured on “Aske”. This obviously makes this vinyl very incomplete and it is something what should have been done differently in my opinion… Also the fact that the layout for the LP hasn’t got the “Aske” famous cover of burnt church (it only can be slightly seen under the lyrics in the inlay card) nor any of the early 90’s Vickernes’ photos is also something what I would change personally. Other than that the vinyl is released well enough, plays fantastically and is all good. And I do love that original artwork of “Burzum” LP – even if it has been taken directly from "Dungeons & Dragons - The Temple of Elemental Evil" (just as the artwork for “Det som engang var”) – it looks awesome on vinyl format.
Musically both “Burzum” and “Aske” are not my favourite Burzum releases, but for sure I like them – for both their musical and historical values. The biggest problem with “Burzum” is that the album is very uneven and together with some exceptionally brilliant songs like “Feeble Screams from Forests Unknown” and “Ea, Lord of the Depths” it also contains some useless fillers and songs, which simply don’t match the quality of the songs which I have just mentioned. I’m talking about such “War”, which is a song similar to Bathory’s “Bathory” and early Mayhem, but it’s just nothing truly special… Or let me put it this way – musically and atmosphere wise it just doesn’t fit to rest of the album, in my opinion. And then we have such “The Crying Orc” (what a hilarious title… what was he thinking?) and “Dungeons of Darkness” – which both are simply fillers, which I consider to be utterly useless… Yeah, “Burzum” doesn’t have the flow and doesn’t hold the same quality, feeling and atmosphere through its entire tracklist and too often everything is interrupted by such forgettable songs. I would be OK if it only had “Channelling the Power of Souls into a New God”, which is actually really nice dark ambient song (or intro, whatever you call it). But more such songs are just a little bit too much for me.
I think that this album will still be pretty unlistenable for many, due to its utterly harsh, primitive and obscure production and playing… and more so, due to the agonizing screams of Varg, who sounds like possessed, tortured person. But once you get into the sound and style of Burzum’s music you will like its feeling, that cold and inhuman atmosphere and catch some really awesome riffs. Like that opening theme for “Ea, Lord of the Depths” – OK, the drumming may not be the most impressive (to say at least hehe), but that riff is just killer! And there are more great songs like “Spell of Destruction” (when I listen to it now, I can see where Behemoth took their main influences from when recording “Return of the Northern Moon” demo hehe) – which is a great epic song and “My Journey to the Stars”. Yeah, I do love all these songs I mentioned, although the best Burzum recordings were yet to come with “Filosofem” and “Hvis lyset tar oss”.
And as for “Aske”… It contains just three anthems: “Stemmen fra tårnet”, “Dominus Sathanas” (yet another instrumental…) and new version of “A Lost Forgotten Sad Spirit”. And well, this may be the least interesting recording of all, which Burzum did in the early 90s. “Stemmen fra tårnet” is OK, but nothing more than that and “Dominus Sathanas” is as useless as the song about crying orc. “A Lost Forgotten Sad Spirit” is the only really worthy song from “Aske” - even if I don’t think it’s been necessary to re-record it for the MLP, when it has already been perfectly played on “Burzum”. Anyway, summing everything up – “Burzum / Aske” is not my favourite piece of Norwegian black metal; I prefer some other albums much, much more… but for sure “Burzum / Aske” is also worth a lot; for both historical and musical matters. I cannot imagine a black metal maniac without having this album in his collection.
Standout tracks: “Ea, Lord of the Depths”, “Feeble Screams from Forests Unknown”, “My Journey to the Stars”
Final rate: 80/100
Burzum's first album is combined on this cd with the "Aske" EP (two tracks tacked on the end). Overall this is a very melodic early 1990s black metal recording which, apart from two ambient tracks, gives little indication of the trancey minimalist keyboard-based ambient moodscapes that would come to the fore on later Burzum albums but instead is very grounded in the mostly guitar-dominated black metal of the period. Anguished shouting vocals are prominent in the mix and on at least two songs ("Ea, Lord of the Depths" and "War") there are passages featuring squealy lead guitar.
Of the ambient tracks featured here, "Dungeons of Darkness", is a good effort and the closest thing to a completely non-melodic, industrial-ambient sound sculpture Burzum ever created, and I only wish it was a bit longer (and a bit louder!) than its 4 minutes as it doesn't seem all that developed or complete. It sounds instead a bit like a long intro to something Burzum never got around to doing. "Channeling The Power Of Souls Into A New God" is the other ambient piece and it is a very subdued funereal track, not especially melodic or emotion-filled, but nevertheless an early stab at creating mood music.
The more guitar-oriented music can be very aggressive with really driving martial rhythms ("My Journey To The Stars" being a good example) even though the music sometimes seems at odds with the lyrics. "Ea, Lord of the Depths" describes a deity whose form is a sea monster, yet the music sounds a bit like a rallying call to an army with those rolling guitar riffs and very urgent percussion. Nothing in the lyrics says anything about fighting Ea! The music doesn't have the anguished high emotion and pain and feeling of aloneness / loneliness that would distinguish albums like "Filosofem" and "Hvis Lyset Tar Oss" and make them classics of their kind, and a couple of songs on "Burzum / Aske" would surely have benefited from that emotion but on the other hand the songs here are enjoyable and that's something you can't say about quite a few of Burzum's albums.
I single out "My Journey To The Stars" as the best song here, it has stirring and catchy melodies. "War" features thrilling high-pitched lead guitar towards the end and "The Crying Orr" (I think it's meant to be "The Crying Orc" - there are so many typos in the cd sleeve's printed lyrics) is interesting as an attempt to capture a particular mood using just a repetitive guitar-only melody.
Ah well, there may be better one-man black metal project debut albums out there but the majority of them have had the benefit of following in some other guy's footsteps which themselves have followed someone else ... and eventually all such trails lead no matter how indirectly back to Burzum. And Varg Vikernes / Burzum had to start somewhere within a genre that was still very song-based and melodic and which hadn't yet branched out into more ambient and noisy territory. This particular recording with all its faults and good points should be considered within that context.
Burzum has never been my favorite Black Metal band, as a matter of fact I find Burzum too often to simple be a bore or comically annoying. If such a thing as comical annoyance exists. Regardless of how I or anyone feels about Burzum, few bands within the Black Metal scene generates such a feeling of controversy or so many cult-like followings. The murder of Euronymous separated Norsecore into two factions; pro-Euronymous and pro-Varg. Now, you could make an argument that Burzum is only big in Black Metal because Varg killed Euronymous, and you’d probably be right about that.
Ironically the biggest drawback and best thing about this release are the vocals. Varg’s screams are harsh and sorrowful, there are many times when he sounds legitimately tormented. The end of “Spell of Destruction” is a prime example of this. However, when Varg tries to form words around this his vocals pop and crackle more than a pre-pubescent teen! The whole album is a prime example of that, but none more horrible than “War” and “Ea, Lord of the Deeps”. The cheap laugh that comes in at 00:56 on “War” will give you a good idea of what I’m talking about, but won’t be more compelling than 1:22 of “Ea, Lord of the Deeps”. It sounds as if Varg is saying “hruughrrrea rhroot!” At 1:52 on the same song it sounds like Varg is saying “ahrhuenha enha hoot!” You’ll find that Varg rather enjoys his hooting on this album. Vastly, Varg’s vocals are very laughable!
There are alot of very rockish guitar lines present in this album. Particularly in “War”, but also in “Feeble Screams from Forests Unknown”, “Spell of Destruction”, “Stemmen fra Taarnet”, and “Dominus Sathanas”. Most of these lines consist of two-to-three string power chords changing key up and down the neck, simple stuff right? Well expect no guess again “yes” to be coming up, the guitar is truly minimalist. Varg doesn’t even tremolo pick these chords often. “Ea, Lord of the Deeps” is really the only song that features tremolo picking of these chords with only a few exceptions in other songs. The majority of the tremolo picking is played using single strings.
Not even the guitar solos are technical or complex! At 4:04 of “Ea, Lord of the Deeps” you’ll hear a “mock” guitar solo which is essentially a background riff you’ll hear through most of the song following the first chorus, the only difference is this time it will be louder. The other solo is heard nearing the end of “War”. This one is faster and plays out more like a typical metal solo than the other. Despite the additional speed this one isn’t difficult either and wouldn’t take a newbie guitarist too long to pick up.
The bass just seems to exist, as with most other Black Metal bands. “War” and “Feeble Screams from a Forest Unknown” are the two songs where the bass can be best heard, most of the time it’s too quiet to be heard well.
The drums aren’t programmed at all but actual drums! Something that should come as a shock for a one-man Black Metal band! The drums are also very simple and typically thrash/rock influenced. There are a few blastbeats but nothing lightening fast by any means. Also there are no real attempts at double bass.
There are four instrumentals in this song in an album of eleven tracks. The first one is a keyboard instrumental, it’s unique in that most of Varg’s keyboard instrumentals tend to go on for seventeen and a half minutes and this one only goes on for 03:26. It’s also a fairly good track to be honest, it’s simple, ambient, and provides a good atmosphere. The second is “The Crying Orc”, which is a simple guitar instrumental features two guitars playing a very melodic line complimenting one another. “Dungeons of Darkness” is an odd one, basically it’s some random noise accompanied by what sounds like shopping carts rattling. Chances are you’ll give it a listen once and forget about it later. The last one is “Dominus Sathanas.” This one is fairly dark and heavily guitar oriented.
It seems as if Varg is attempting a dark rockish feel to minimalist Black metal in this album. Entirely different to what Satyricon is doing today, Satyricon is making Black Metal conform to rock while Burzum had made rock conform to Black Metal, creating two entirely different styles. I disagree with the opinion most people have on this album being ambient or drone. In this album the keyboards are kept to a minimum and the music isn’t as slow and drudging like drone is.
Unfortunately, it may have been better if Varg had gone with an ambient or drone approach. The album is boring; the riffs aren’t heavy, definitely not “head-bangable”, and all too often you are left with this feeling that it’s been done. Maybe that’s just because I’m a young guy and don’t care that much for raw Black Metal anymore. The production is thankfully good enough. You can hear what’s going on and differentiate between various lines and what not, but the guitar solos are played so loud they often give off alot of feedback which gets annoying. The album isn’t a total loss; there are plenty of goods songs to be had here. Fans of Raw Black Metal will probably love this album, but hey, this is just the opinion of a young guy who doesn’t think much of Raw BM. Feel free to come up with your own conclusion.
Final Score: 58
There's no denying the legendary status of this album, that's for damn sure. Varg's first full album, as well as the Aske EP, still has an undeniable influence on today's black metal. Both recordings have single-handedly inspired hordes of suicidal/depressive black metal bands who have imitated Varg to no avail, and has been somewhat of a holy grail for "minimalist" BM bands.
But clearly, Varg wasn't necessarily on top of his game with this first album. Some factors can be dismissed, such as the all-too-crude production, which seems to lack that quality of spaciousness and breadth that gave Det Som Engang Var and Hvis Lyset Tar Oss such a wonderful atmosphere. However, there are certain things which come off as an identifiable weakness: Vocal performances that seem forced or uncertain; a surprising lack of full-length songs or songwriting effort, which results in a clusterfuck of essentially useless tracks; (Ex: "The Crying Orc," "Dungeons of Darkness") and an all-around amateur feel to the whole experience. I don't give a fuck how "raw" it is, there's no excuse for this number of drum fuck-ups. I realize Varg was not an experienced drummer, as seen in the playing techniques; but it's not that hard to keep a steady beat without fucking up in one way or another.
But, what this release lacks in the maturity of later releases is made up for with pure, juvenile aggression in tracks like "My Journey to the Stars," "A Lost Forgotten Sad Spirit," and "Spell of Destruction." Though Varg's songwriting skills and playing chops would improve with subsequent releases, the song crafting here is at its best with the opener, "Feeble Screams From the Forest Unknown," which twists and turns through a myriad of primitive, rock-ish BM riffs and the agonized wail that Varg has become known for. While definitely not his strongest or best output, the reputation of this release cannot be put down by anyone. It holds its own for sure, but Varg would outdo himself from this block of amateur songs, lyrics, and riffs.
I guess what it comes down to is this: The spacious, wintry atmosphere that made Burzum so great is not present on this release, thus rendering it somewhat inferior in my eyes. This is illustrated with the overtly garage instrument sound and production techniques, and a general lack of emotion seen on later albums.
Pros: Legendary status, long-lived influence, some classic tracks
Cons: Weak songwriting, general uncertainty/lack of organic nature in the music, sub-par production for Burzum.
This album is a special one for me, as it is one of the absolute first “true” black metal records I ever bought. “Aske” really is the ultimate black metal album, as it not only ignited my passion for the extremity of black metal music, but in general, this album really is pretty flawless. Every single song is unique, and it’s not often an album is like that. However, each piece is still undeniably familiar to the last, with great patterns to it. However, each song deserves its own review, so I will try and best describe them, keeping in mind that no words can do justice to this masterwork. Everyone who knows Varg’s works even just a little bit knows that each of his albums is starkly different to another. This one here is the most “true black metal” of his works, no keyboards at all throughout the metal songs, only on the ambient tracks. Add to this raw tremolo picked power chords, searing and agonisingly harsh vocals, and you have what sounds like a fairly normal black metal CD. But as we shall see, this is much more than just another black metal album. Apart from being a classic, even if released today, this anthology of music would be a fantastic seller due to its originality, quality and the fact that each song contains some fresh and new ideas from the last.
The opening track of this maniacal and tortuous hour of music is the epic “Feeble Screams From Forests Unknown”. This song is not brilliant in a technical sense, but it is brilliant on a large number of levels. It’s common knowledge that Burzum was the first metal act to incorporate ambient elements into its music, as is done in all his works, but this song in particular experiments with progression as well. He plays a riff however many times, and then it’s almost never heard of again, bar a couple of examples. The intro here is faster than is commonly heard, and the first example of Varg’s horrendous and bone-chilling vocals are included in here. The slower verse riffs are written perfectly and flow together nicely. The rest of the song follows as either mid-pace or slow, and it executes itself nicely. The slower pace highlights his voice perfectly well, and especially when it goes into the part which is only guitar and voice. Otherwise, the riffing is a great mix of high-range power chords, tremolo picked.
Put simply, “What a way to kick start a black metal career!”
After the sheer brilliance of the opening track, we go into the shorter “Ea, Lord of the Depths”. This track starts off with the drum beat which doesn’t change at all over the next five minutes, showing Varg’s awesome consistency and power with the kit. I would have said coordination, but the drums aren’t the most coordinated I’ve ever heard – some of them are a bit out of time with each other, and this song is no different, but it’s no problem, after all this isn’t a goddamn drum instruction video with a drum-off with Flo from Cryptopsy. Anyway, back on the topic of this song, there are few riffs in this song, but this works to a best effect. The verse riff is extremely catchy, not changing much in pitch, but still highly listenable. The lyrics are short but great, as always, and those maniacal vocals are even better than on the opening track of the album. This track will have you banging your head all the way through, and after the second chorus, there is even a little solo, though it’s not really as much of a solo or a lead as it is an additional melody. Whatever you like to call it though, it’s still good. Then we finish with just another playing of the rhythm, and this neat little track is over.
“Spell of Destruction” (or “Black Spell of Destruction” on the older release) is simply fanatical. Imagine the holocaustic racket that would be made if all the eternally tortured souls from an underworld asylum, were set free on the earth. Now multiply aforementioned racket by 10. What you have now doesn’t even come close to this piece. This song is quite slow all throughout, and this works very much in its favour. The dissonant and juicy guitar riffs are not repeated many times, but their lack of pace makes them perfect. Varg’s vocal performance early on is again top-notch. But if you think those vocals are twisted, you haven’t heard anything yet. There is a vocal solo, backed only by single sorrowful guitar notes, which is exactly the perfect part to back up my pervious analogy to a tortured soul asylum. This is being written for a review in 2006, where the progression of extreme and experimental music is of course at its own forefront, so when you think back to the original release of this being in 1992, it’s really not a wonder that this release was so hyped and so well received by the black metal community and Euronymous’s label Posercorpse/DSP alike. This would have been very well ahead of its time I imagine.
Following this unholy pandemonium, we see the earliest example of Burzum’s ambient works, the calm and soothing “Channelling The Power of Souls Into A New God”. There are only two passages of music in this piece, which is three and a half minutes long, but it is still a very majestic and beautiful piece. The keyboard tone is perfect, and the music, while simple, is effective and executed flawlessly, with a great transition, and then the fade-out to a very faint whisper of “Worship….me….” – concluding an essentially perfect interlude.
Track 5 on this album is simply titled “War” and it only lasts for 2 and a half minutes, but it’s goddamn…CATCHY!!? Black metal, catchy?? Whoever heard of such a thing! Well, this is indeed damn catchy. This is possibly Varg’s most musically technical effort to date (which isn’t saying much, haha), and this faster-paced tune again shows his willingness for experimentation, and furthering the boundaries instead of sticking to the same old formula. In the opening seconds, Varg tells us “This is, heheh….WAR!” and then the rest of the instruments come in, and let me tell you ladies and gentlemen; YES, THIS IS WAR. Cheesy lyrics, but again those twisted and miserable vocals take your mind off things. The same riff is essentially repeated, or at least is only varied slightly, the rhythm remains the same, but it’s not a problem as the track is still great. “War” is capped off with a little solo that isn’t any great Slayer or Iron Maiden piece, but its simplicity complements the rhythm well and fits nicely over the song.
Another interlude is next, “The Crying Orc”. Simply consisting of two layered guitar tracks, this lugubrious and emotional interlude is only a minute long, which is a damn shame because for all it does inside this minute, it could have been made into an extremely excellent track. But, it is still a fantastic break track.
After this little rest, we’re back into the black onslaught with the wicked “My Journey To The Stars”. This, along with “Spell of Destruction”, contends for the position of “most evil song on the album”. The song starts off with tremolo picked tritone notes, before flowing into the higher range of the guitar, and going into a fast drum beat. This all takes over a minute to build up, and by leaving nothing out, it is the perfect build-up to a song of this wickedness. The lyrics are very strong again even for today, so imagining the brutality and impact of these lyrics on an unsuspecting Norwegian scene in the early 1990’s would have been colossal. This is also one of the fastest tracks on the album, and very, very lengthy, counting in at just over 8 minutes. The guitar tracks are harmonised very well, and this song contains the greatest riff ever written, at 4:53. EVER. BAR NONE. FUCK EVERYTHING ELSE. The song slows down towards the end however, and contains another part of only guitar and vocals. The distortion isn’t as present on this effort and so the vocals aren’t quite as vicious throughout this tune, but they still shit on 90% of the other black metal that I’ve ever heard. “My Journey To The Stars” is a killer.
“Dungeons of Darkness” is another ambient track, but it is much darker and much more pure ambient than the previous ambient piece on the record. This is a track which I very much enjoy, but others may not take such a shining to it. This is essentially, as I said, a pure ambient piece, and that is not something you can just pick up and listen to and instantly appreciate its musicality. This, honestly, wouldn’t sound out of place on a Shinjuku Thief or Verhagen album, but that’s one of the reasons I love it. This was another part where Misanthropy Records fucked up in re-releasing this album; they could have, and should have, put much more thought into the tracklisting. On the original self-titled debut this was the outro, and it would have made a perfect outro here as well, but it is reduced to being merely another interlude, when it could have had brilliant justice done to it after the re-release included a few extra tracks. Not to take anything away from the content though, it’s a great and extremely atmospheric piece.
The first track on the original “Aske” EP, but the 9th track on this compilation, is Stemmen Fra Tårnet. Another progression from the previous tracks, as this is the first song we hear that Varg recorded in his native Norwegian. Fading in, you can tell straight away from the different production that this is going to be a little different to the rest of the stuff. This song has possibly the best range of paces, as they are changed on a fairly frequent basis, yet manage to flow completely well together. Beautiful lyrics too, if you have the English translations on hand. This is a pretty decent track, but isn’t as good in comparison to the rest of the material.
The next track is instrumental, except for a single scream early on, the slow, mournful and funeralistic “Dominus Sathanas”. This slow and emotional track is like an extended version of “The Crying Orc”, but there isn’t as much range in the guitars in terms of octaves. Sad and beautiful riffs are repeated, taking time away, and 3 minutes feels like about 30 seconds. I can’t imagine what its purpose would have been in its original form on the 3-track “Aske” EP, but here, it just serves as another excellent interlude.
And the album comes to a close after the epic “A Lost Forgotten Sad Spirit”. Clocking in at a massive 11 minutes, this is one of Varg’s longest pieces, but as with Burzum’s works, the entrancing atmosphere of the piece makes it seem timeless and endless, but in a good way. The tracks title and length would make it seem, at first glance, like the most misanthropic or despondent piece on the album by a long shot, and that it is. Heartbreaking lyrics about a lonely soul are excellent, but the music, while excellent as usual, doesn’t quite seem to fit the mood as perfectly as the other songs on the album do. Maybe I’m just being picky having been raised on a diet of the best black metal, but something is just a bit off. It’s harsh, it’s dissonant, it’s very dark and evil, but there is just something missing that could have been fixed by the inclusion of a melody. Still, this track is as good as any to close the album, unless there was another filler or interlude track at the end, but this does nicely.
There really is no flaw for me on this album. Some might say that there are too many filler tracks, but the interludes and rests are of such a high quality that I really can’t see a problem with them. It involves opening your mind a bit, but if you can do that, this is pure and simple fucking genius. This really was an album ahead of its time, but its now 14 years after its release, and it still holds up well against newer and inferior bands that weakly attempt to clone this and emulate the sound. But for those few bands that do surpass it, “Burzum/Aske” also holds up as a clear source of inspiration, laying the foundation for the inspiration and furthering of more extreme forms of black metal.
The tracklisting of the album was fucked up, but as this is a re-release, I am not going to count the order, and I’m only going by the contents of the actual music. Which are simply and utterly perfect. Way ahead of its time, and still selling well today. 100%. No less. This seriously fucking shits on anything Mayhem has done, and by the looks of things, that Mayhem will ever do. Finally, as much as I hate clichés, there is a classic that needs to be used here: If you don’t own this CD in some form or another, don’t bother calling yourself a black metal fan.
Where to begin with this one.... Well, stating that this is Varg's best release is probably not an understatement (although "best" is subjective). This album has everything, from upbeat black n' roll to utter black metal hatred & fury to ambient darkness. It's a varied peice of work, to say the least. This album is an emotional roller-coster full of soft beautiful melodies and pure fucking hatred and torment. It's quite hard to put all of my feelings about this album into this review, because there's just something that captivates you when you listen to this in it's entirety. It's an impressive album of sorts, essentially. Now, I'm not going to go into detail about the instrumentation and vocals, because of course everyone knows all of those minor traits and aspects (or at least you should by now considering the popularity of Burzum). I'll do a song by song review on this one instead.
Feeble Screams From Forests Unknown - This one clocks at about 7 minutes and 30 seconds, and the song structure is rather strange. None of the riffs are repeated and the song sort of gives off the feeling of driving slowly down a dirt road in the black of night. At first, the song begins with a series of fast riffs and blast beats. It then slows down, and the further it progresses, it falls more and more into a very dark, depressive state of mind. And then, it reaches a point where all instruments stop aside from the guitar which gives a build up of all the despair, hatred, and inner torture to surface. Then, it all explodes, and if Varg ever had a moment of 'suicidal black metal' as many would label it, this would be it. Everytime this part arrives, a serious chill washes over me. This song is indeed, fucking cold. So to speak, of course. Then, the ferocity subsides and a soft melancholic riff takes over until the end. A very dark, impressionable introduction to this album.
Ea, Lord of the Depths - Your standard early 90's Norwegian black metal anthem. Pounding double bass, hate fueled black metal riffing, and even a complimentary solo at the end. It's very repetitive, but nonetheless, a classic.
Spell of Destruction - This one is very depressive, and basically demands you to contemplate your very existence. Listen to this when you're down, and this song will have you shaking with hopelessness and utter despair. I consider this to be one of the most extreme songs ever recorded (that I've heard), and also one of the most beautifully crafted peices of (extreme) art that I've come across. Varg's vocals are filled with nothing but agony, and the music compliments that very well. Near the end, everything stops save for an eerie violin (perhaps he used an effects processor to achieve that tone) accompanied by Varg spilling out whatever inner torture he seemed to possess at the time. If suicide had a sound, this would very well suffice.
Channeling the Power of Souls Into a New God - A break from all of the mental meltdown, but this one still retains that melancholic feel. It's an ambient track, and sets the listener into a trance; a state of mind lost in another world. This song is composed well, and fits perfectly in place here. Varg certainly achieved his intention here, which was to "put the listener to sleep."
War - Heavily influenced by Bathory's song, (titled the same, no doubt), it's upbeat and fairly catchy. This one is short, and contains a solo at the end performed by Euronymous, evidently.
The Crying Orc - A short but effective solo guitar instrumental. A very memorable piece.
My Journey to the Stars - Your standard black metal Burzum right here, and that's about all I've got to say about it.
Dungeons of Darkness - What's the point? Well, another ambient track, save for any trace of music. Actually, I enjoy it from time to time, except for when the noise in the background gets louder and louder. Somehow though it seems to fit the album, as it makes for a good transition into Aske.
Stemmen Fra Taarnet - Beginning from this track until the end of the album is the mini Aske LP that Varg added onto the original. I think it's a great addition, because it seems to fullfill the void left by the former. This one is more repetitive and trance inducing, a notable predecessor to his latter works. I really enjoy this one.
Dominus Sathanas - Instrumental. Catchy, slow, yet it gives that trance like feel, once again. This is probably one of the most talented instrumentals I've ever heard. A genius composition. I'm impressed, Varg.
A Lost, Forgotten, Sad Spirit - The longest song on the compilation, about 11 minutes long. This song is very calming, through and out, especial emphasis on the ending, which is like the majority of the song, very calming, and relaxing. A very appropriate finale to the album.
In conclusion, this album is a classic; and a definitive milestone in the genre. The display of emotions within this unique work are extravagantly presented in a manner that is seldom achieved by Varg's imitators- this is, in short, a masterpiece of self expression. Certainly worth your money, if my review has persuaded you so.
This is the most Black Metal sounding album in the Burzum catalogue.
Like most Black Metal that existed at the time 'Burzum/Aske' is made up of simple patterns which eventually evolve to something larger and extremely coherant. Percussion is in the style of Hellhammer, often rising to the level of what a lot may call 'noise'.
The blend of guitars, drums and Varg's screaming vocals can often suffocate the ears with a tremendous level of what, at first appears, as un-clear, feral 'noise', the music, however, is dissectable, just like a lot of Black Metal.
The purpose of the album seems to be a fantasy world that is both 'good' and 'bad'. The world created, at first, seems grossly dark and morbid. Yet the fantasy world can be turned on it's head to form a world where one has to have wits and will to survive, instead of the modern world, where evolution is denied and there is a constant, sickening light. This plays into the duality of the name of Burzum.
The simple guitar patterns and repetition almost lull the listener into some form of light hypnosis, and the screeching vocals become almost clear, this allowing the listener to be drawn into the world, away from the light.Tempos and music change from slow and audible to fast and blurry, rushing past the different landscapes of the created fantasy land.
The work is very much a showcase for the potential of ambient metal where it uses mostly barely modified simple power-chords, a rebellion against the structured fit-in-a-box metal of before, including metal that was also later re-classified as Black Metal.
Vocals are actually remarkable once you get past the difficulty of listening to the screech (some people actually take time with these vocals and are still dead-set against them, personally I quite enjoy them). Rather than being 'a bit where the musician makes a noise with his mouth' the vocals accentuate the guitar parts excellently, as if they are driving the music at some points. This almost adds an entire new dimension to the vocals.
As with all Burzum releases, this album is not exempt from keyboard work either (Channeling the Power of Souls into a New God). The keyboard work is nothing like what was released on Hvis Lyset Tar Oss and Filosofem, it does, however, have the same dream-like melody which continues the 'hypnosis' already created by the previous songs.
And, although I know you were all expecting one of my excellent puns, this release has no place for one. It is, in lament terms, fucking perfection.
Although Varg may claim he dislikes his first four albums, I believe that the previous reviews sum up exactly how good this album actaully is. Varg Vikernes is one of the most infamous pioneers of the entire black metal scene, and proves it with this excellent release. Burzum/Aske is the combination of the self-titled album along with the Aske EP. This being one of the first black metal albums I ever heard, I didn't know what to think. I did, however, know that is was truly something amazing. From the opening song, "Feeble Screams From Forests Unknown", is the pace of this entire album. Varg's vocals are indeed among the best in black metal. These higher pitched screams sound almost like screams of pain, of agony. The crashing, exploding blastbeats, the distortion of the guitars, the trudging bass, and these screams are the essence of Burzum. Along with a previous review (dividingforce) I agree that "Ea, Lord of the Depths" is among the first I heard with what we know today as traditional black metal picking. And, if that isn't enough, we also have here some of the ambient Burzum. The atmospheric touch of "Channelling the Power of Souls into a New God" comes along, and I feel that it further adds to the solitude you feel when listening to Burzum. Although the most raw of albums, this does not have shit-poor production, and yet Varg adds this excellent ambient track. Who could have expected that we would have more of this atmospheric, slow sound in the future?
As a last note, I must state the effect of the simple instrumental "The Crying Orc" This song is nothing more than a heavily distorted guitar, yet it really does bring a sad feeling to your heart. The entire album, for that matter, sets an unequaled melancholic atmosphere that embodies all that is black metal. This album is history.
Everyone else who has thus far rated this album has been correct: it truly is worthy of the perfect 100 score.
Varg Vikernes, one of the most infamous names in the black metal scene, headed the one-man-band Burzum. With this release, the combination of his first full length release and the EP that followed it, he showed the scene (and the metal world) his style of raw, purely evil black metal on a much grander scale than when it was released solely through Euronymous' record label.
Absolutely everything on this album is wonderful: the production is one of the big noticable things. It isn't garage-quality, like most other "kvlt" black metal releases. Instead, it actually sounds like this was recorded in a studio with a good crew working to produce it.
As for the actual music, it's 100% black metal gold. "Feeble Screams from Forests Unknown" is our first taste of it. The crashing black metal drums, eerily distorted guitars and ear-piercing shrieks from Varg all combine together into a truly epic black metal track. And that is just the first song. It picks up again with "Ea, Lord of the Depths" and this is one of the first songs I heard with the traditional "black metal picking". The drumming is also very nicely done; it isn't all blastbeats and random bashing, unlike some black metal bands approaches. "Spell of Destruction" keeps up the black metal and holds the grimness of this album in balance.
And then "Channelling the Power of Souls into a New God" comes on. This shows Varg's taste for an ambient sound, as we would later hear on Daudi Baldrs and Hlidskjalf. It's nice, but is very slow; it's a very atmospheric "break" in the album. Filler, almost, but it fits very well.
Things pick right back up with the remanining tracks. Highlights are "War", "My Journey to the Stars", and "A Lost Forgotten Sad Spirit", but that's not to say the rest aren't amazing as well. You would do very well to pick this album up; it's a piece of black metal history, and an amazing listen as well. -I-