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First off, I'd like to state that I don't find the need to tell you how popular and influential this album is. Nor how influential Varg Vikernes is/was.
The thing that this album excels at is keeping you hypnotized and in a trance-like state, making you enjoy the album (at least the metal songs) as a whole. But even then, the songs are all distinguishable from one another. You won't find yourself thinking that all the songs sound alike. The music is very basic black metal with the guitar mostly in command. The guitar is very raw and simple, with no-nonsense riffs. Sometimes the riffs are melodic in a sad way. The drums are very primitive with simple patterns, and predictable double bass parts. The keyboards only dominate on a few parts, which is good. The vocals of Varg Vikernes are some of the best in black metal ever. And this album is no exception. Really angry and tortured vocals, even by black metal standards. No wankery here at all, really. Was Varg Vikernes a genius or did he just get lucky? I'll leave that for you to decide.
"Det Som Engang Var" is one of the most respected songs in black metal. I even heard someone say once that this is the greatest song in black metal ever. I sometimes agree with that and sometimes I don't. It is indeed long, epic and atmospheric, yet sometimes that works against it especially since there is a substantial amount of keyboard usage. The problem with that is sometimes the song comes off as kinda gothy. But the atmosphere in this song is astounding. What it lacks in speed and brutality, it makes up for in its hypnotic effect. "Hvis Lyset Tar Oss" is a faster and more brutal song. Not much keyboard going on here. Finally, the guitar is in command. This song like the first, is pretty atmospheric, but with guitars creating the atmosphere. It does not sacrifice rawness and brutality. Undoubtedly, this song is the angriest and meanest song on the album. This is song is, in my opnion, what the album builds up to. It is also one of my favorites in all black metal, and the best one on this album, hands down. Inn I Slottet Fra Drommen" is another great track, mixing the speed and brutality of the 2nd with the atmosphere of the 1st. There is a buildup to a part where only the guitars (and maybe keyboards) are playing with Varg singing, which finishes with a fantastic ending. The ending to this song is something really special, in my opinion. The ending sounds very sad and the fadeout gives the impression of a dying warrior, proud that he has met his end. "Tomhet" is a pure keyboard track. There is nothing metal about it. It is an ok keyboard track, but it goes on too long at a whopping 14 minutes. A pure time waster that takes up about 1/3 of the album. I think that the whole keyboard song thing was done best on Filosofem with that 25 minute song. But even there it's too much sometimes (haha).
If you're looking for a black metal album that conjures up images of Satan, blasphemy, war, evil and anti-Christianity and the like, YOU WILL NOT FIND IT HERE. This is an album that conjures feelings of gloom, loneliness, death, nature, darkness and sorrow. It will take you to the past, or some other place where you will find the cold death stalking you. This is the black metal album that will take you back to when black metal was for real, back to "what once was." Truly one of the all-time greats, its easy to see why this was so influential.