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Competent early 1990s melodic black metal - 70%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, April 2nd, 2007

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.