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It can be reasonably inferred that Burzum’s music developed from the being aggressive in nature to becoming ambient even before “Daudi Baldrs”. “Filosofem”, as a part of this transformation is slower than its predecessors with a higher level of experimentation and is mellow in character. Hence melancholy is the chief mood in this album helped by the lyrics showing wishful aloofness.
What strikes the listener first is the highly distorted guitar sound which at first sounds simple and abrasive. But closer listening reveals the myriad of riffs layered under the “fuzzy” sound. Hence the enchanting nature of the songs appears. The cleverly integrated keyboard sounds add to the beauty of the songs (“Dunkelheit” being the best example of this). This goes hand in hand with the simplistic poetic lyrics revealing the detachment form the present reality. What is most noticeable is the change in the vocals from harsh screams to whispers which is perfect for the album. “Jesus’ Tod” is an exception being fast in nature and with slightly different lyrics (its about the death of Jesus). However, it is one of the catchiest songs by Burzum because of the chilling riffs and the “thumpy -electronic-ish” beats. Listening to the first three tracks reveals certain industrial sound. “Erbelicket Die Tochter Des Firmaments” is another gem with its consistent beat and synth melodies hidden beneath the fuzzy guitar sounds accompanied by Tolkein inspired lyrics.
What is problematic is the second half of the album which can be criticized as being too long. These three tracks (“Decrepitude”, “Rundgang um die transzendentale Saule der Singularitat,” and “Decrepitude II”) do test the listeners’ patience but do make a mark in the listeners’ minds with the experimentation put in. In a way Varg has always experimented in his albums as there have always been such tracks in the previous albums. But I reckon this is where the black metal Burzum transforms into the ambient Burzum. “Rundgang …” is a highly abstract piece running along for 25 minutes. It seems to be in the same vein as “Tomhet” in “Hvis Lyset Tar Oss”.
All in this entire album’s brilliance lies in its veiled complexity and its ability to change the listeners’ mood. I think this album can be called as the black metal equivalent to Keats’ “Ode to Melancholy”.