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For the record, this is going to be a review written by a Burzum fan, for Burzum fans. Please kindly leave all complaints with the MetalReview.com public relations department, or simply move on if the band doesn't already interest you.
The very least that anyone can say about Varg Vikernes is that he's been a man of his word ever since his prison release. Since last year, he's graced us with Belus and Fallen, which were far from disappointing to already-converted lovers of Vikernes' music. The second release of this year, From The Depths of Darkness (not "Deeps"), features re-recordings of the most coveted Burzum works pre-Hvis Lyset Tar Oss. Thankfully, "War" was left out of the mix.
To these ears, Varg chose to use the exact same instrumentation that exists in the original recordings, but changed the album's mixing drastically. The result is old Burzum songs recorded in Hvis Lyset Tar Oss fashion. What would a Burzumite want more than to hear the old tracks recorded with the same intensity of what is one of the most powerful and influential black metal albums of all time?
Although From The Depths of Darkness is as perfectly justifiable as it is enjoyable, it lacks some of the "magic," if you will, that exists within the confines of the original Burzum/Aske and Det Som Engang Var LP's. Varg Vikernes once said that the whole point of the musical rebellion that is black metal is not to care about brands of instruments, types of studios or the "in" music at the time. To quote him:
"A few mistakes make the music more alive and personal -- it simply gives the music some "soul" and originality, so I never bothered to correct anything. The music on the Burzum albums is simply an honest and sincere, unvarnished and clear representation of me. Certainly I am not flawless or without mistakes, so neither is my music."
A musical visionary, Varg is absolutely correct in his practically prophetical statement as a sign of things that were to come in the extreme music industry. If there's one thing that's true about what most musicans consider traditional soul music, it's that the music is certainly not without mistakes. That's what gives the notes character. It wasn't the notes that were being played that attracted so many people to Burzum in the first place. It was how they were being played. That's what was so revolutionary about black metal at the time, and that's what separates extreme metal from any other form of rock music today.
Vikernes didn't exactly fail to live up to his standard of what is soulful music on these re-recordings, but two of the trademark sounds of the original recordings -- the wails of a soul in dire agony in the original "Spell of Destruction," for example; and the incessant pounding behind the drum kit featured in songs such as "Ea, Lord of The Depths," and "My Journey To The Stars" -- are completely missing in this supposed re-vamped re-recording. Still, it's nearly a worthy sacrifice given the increased intensity of the sharp-as-hell riffage on all of the new album's songs.
So if you're stuck trying to choose which song versions you prefer, you've missed the point of this release entirely. The most positive thing about From The Depths of Darkness is that we now have both recordings. If Hvis Lyset Tar Oss was too short for you, you now have an additional seven songs you can enjoy. If you think it's blasphemous and too profitable to be trve, nobody is forcing you to listen to this. On top of that, if the ferociousness of the old Burzum with such a fresh production is a sign of what's to come, do not be surprised if Burzum manages to pull an Album of the Year contender out of its hat, or burn down a church or two. Hell, at this point, anything is possible.
Originally written for MetalReview.com