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Burzum always has been, and always will be, a band sorrounded by controversy because of it's founder and lone member Count Grishnack. But regardless of Vikerness' murder of Euronymous, and his endless ideological views related to race, culture, society, and religion Burzum will surely go down as one of the greatest Black Metal bands in history, and this album sounds like their best effort to me.
Burzum do on this cd what almost no other black metal band achieves. A perfect balance of keyboards and guitars, especially on Det Som Engang Var. The 14 minute masterpiece (arguably Vikerness' best) uses synths in such a simplistic and almost boring fashion that you almost begin to recognize them as part of the "sound". And that is the brilliance of the keyboards, they blend with the guitars and vocals, creating an extremely organic sound. They also happen to be playing some of the most melancholic melodies I have ever heard, all while keeping the inherent simplicity and repetitiveness of Burzum. Here is were almost all other bands falter that try to replicate Burzum's use of synth. Either they overdo it and thereby make the synths the primary instrument, or they produce the guitars so horribly that the synths clash with the guitars instead of blending with them.
On the point of guitars, Vikerness also retains his basic power chord and tremelo style guitar lines that he used on the self titled and Det Som Engang Var. The emphasis is on quality over quantity, which is a point many black metal bands do not understand, using the simple structures of Burzum, while forgetting that what makes this cd work is the fact that the riffs are all brilliant. All of the songs flow seamlessly, and the riffs are repetitive to the point that you can't help but think that the music is simply a gateway into one's own visions and thoughts, and that the music simply acts as a catalyst, presenting possibilities and ideas to the mind.
The production remains similar to the previous full lengths, and Varg continues his high pitched and tortured vocal style. Drumming is good and simple, with fairly good production. Guitars are hazy and misty at times, but never overly harsh in the sense that they are equalized too trebly. The guitars have a good midrange sound, and this helps with the synth blend. The synths also get their own song, a song entitled "Tomhet" (emptiness) that gradually builds around a solidary synth theme, building layers over time. The song is beautiful and at the same time melancholic, and listening to this you will probably understand what I mean by the music being a "catalyst" for ones own imagination.
All in all, this is the way that it is done. Copied by hundreds of bands, but never imitated at the same level. You have not heard the full potential of black metal if you have not heard Hvis Lyset Tar Oss.