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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