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Too Late - 50%

zaebangad, June 28th, 2010

Perhaps at the time of Burzum’s conception, the idea was unprecedented – its sincerity and simplicity harbored something unique and truly sole in its existence. Everyone knows fucking Burzum and everyone knows what Burzum sounds like. It was a project that embodied the epitome of music that is atmospheric, dark, misanthropic and distinctive. However, during the long years of Vikernes’s incarceration, black metal almost immediately lost the very important tenet of being yourself, and as a result a whole bunch of unoriginal douchebags created the philosophy of “true nekrogrim black metal” to justify their derivative and bland ripping-off of the forefathers of said metal. Thus, a genre of music that was at a time unique and individualistic turned into unoriginal sheep-like wankery. Among other things, Burzum’s formula of simplistic rawness was copied to no end. Of course, to combat this phenomenon, black metal had to reinvent itself and up the ante from time to time, earning the hatred of purists along the way.

But, Vikernes was locked up during this time period and was probably not very aware (or didn’t give a rat’s ass) of what had transpired outside, and, while black metal evolved, Vikernes didn’t. Belus is far from groundbreaking; it is just what could've been done long ago, it is like that unknown, never-heard before material recorded that graced someone's attic and just now was released, and everyone thinks - "Oh, how ahead of its time this was!" But, the time it would be ahead of is past. Belus is a modern release. It will not be granted that luxury.

As to the songs themselves, they almost always follow the strict pattern of playing repetitive riffing patterns to no end. While the melodies are interesting to say the least, they are just too worn out over the course of the songs and they fail to posit themselves as something extraordinary and unique. They’ve already been done by a shitload of other bands, mostly copying the ideas of Burzum and the like. So, here we have a peculiar case where the freshness of the original has been diminished by its duplicates. I stopped listening to the album several times because the riffs can be so fucking tiresome. I cannot stress this enough – they’re repetitive. They’re so fucking repetitive that they become more uninteresting than whatever new theory Varg has on life, race, the universe and everything. At the same time, it seems Burzum has only evolved in partially doing away with the ambiance of the old records and this does not work well with the monotonous nature of the songs. If they're going to use cyclical songwriting, they should be atmospheric. If they lack atmosphere, they'll just end up being boring. With certain exceptions (Sverddans comes to mind), Belus cannot escape from the severe mid-tempo monotony. The vocal work is alright I guess, the clean parts sometimes making me want to punch Varg in the face, but nothing too unbearable. When it takes a break from being monotonous, the album does shine, but ultimately doesn't make it.

I can see why this release will be well-accepted by Burzum fans and all those “trve” black metallers. It is almost nostalgic and would’ve been revolutionary fifteen fucking years ago. However, that time has long since passed and this sort of black metal has already been killed by over-saturation. This is hardly innovative or new, black metal has far surpassed Belus already. It came too late to be original.