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Ideally, this should be listened to at night, alone, in your bedroom, in the dark [etc]. This is the kind of music you fall asleep to. Of course, anyone in the "mainstream" population would say Varg's vocals would keep them from sleeping. Well, if you enjoy any other album (except his last two) it means you're accustom to his vocals. Getting past this is really important, and once you do-- you will thank yourself.
The defining feature of this album is the synth keyboards. Even through the first song, it would feel awkward if there was none of that otherworldly sound that Varg twiddles with. It gives an atmosphere of desolate nothingness; yet at the same time feels like you are looking into the space above. Back at the time where the 2nd wave was emerging, most of the band members focused on landscapes. This album could probably draw a portrait in your mind if you really want it to. In fact, I use this album to get to sleep sometimes, I'll touch on Tomhet at the end.
The first song can sum up Burzum basically. Crushing riffs, tom fills with Varg playing on time (yet he always seems to be off), and a beautiful synthetic background that I cannot describe with words unless you hear it. Actually I'll try. The synth sounds like the noise you would hear if you needed a soundtrack to a deep exploration in space near a supernova in a void.... sorry, give me credit for trying. The guitars are very fuzzy, and do not dominate at all. The lead is always given to the synth when it appears.
The next two songs are moreover the same. It seems to continue the ambiance, but doesn't bring anything special to the table as Det Som Engang Var did. They're still good nonetheless, and would be outstanding tracks on any album; just after the initial track... it seems like a step down because the first one kicked so much ass. I think these songs play a role into leading towards Tomhet. If you take a look at their function, they follow the same formula. The songs contain a few guitar riff spanned over a period of time. Since Varg's desire was to create an atmosphere, this is ideal in doing so... just I tend to find it too repetitive. He must be given credit for trying to add in special effects. On the amp he uses, he tries turning on the tremolo knob to give it the riffs a pulsating feeling. This generally cost some percentage since no deviation is done, and it almost feels as if the lack of keyboards is a factor. He does bring them in at random points; though they definitely do NOT have the same beautiful effect the first.
Tomhet is perfect. This is the reason why no one will touch this album. The synths were balanced perfectly in the other songs, but here it is pure synth. This song is for sleeping to, not to playing before a huge game. If you do that, you are stupid and should die alone. Anyways, I've studied this song a lot, only to find out that Varg used really loud synths at the beginning to make it seem like a clusterfuck of noise. Eventually, towards the 7 minute mark, it all drops down into this really space like beauty, which is amplified by the fact your brain registers a drop in silence. It's the perfect drop, and brings your brain down into a level of beauty I cannot describe. Now as much as I did say it is perfect, I am knocking out some of its score because it is perfect... and doesn't go on long enough. It ends too soon, and Varg could have easily drawn it out to 17-20 minutes and it would still remain as amazing as it would have in the 14 minutes originally. Sometimes I feel it is too short, even for a 14 minute beast of an ambient song.
This can only be experienced by buying and listening [at night]. An album like this has never been done, and will never be done again. The closest album to this is Filosofem. This is what makes it such a jewel.