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Raw - 88%

Doominance, December 29th, 2014

Burzum's self-titled debut album is perhaps the Varg Vikernes' most raw and varied. Varg was ahead of his fellow black metallers in Norway in the early 90s, and it was evident already on his first offering. While Darkthrone and Immortal had a stronger speed/death metal influence a la Bathory, Hellhammer/Celtic Frost, Burzum focused more on the very simplistic, but atmospheric style. Of course, Bathory-ish sonic attacks are evident in songs like "Feeble Screams from Forests Unknown", "Ea, Lord of the Depths", "My Journey to the Stars" and of course the song that is dedicated to Bathory called "War", which is Burzum's token thrasher, pretty much. But what stands out the most, is the sheer eeriness of songs like "Black Spell of Destruction" with its doomy riffing/rhythm, the instrumental tracks; "Channelling the Power of Souls into a New God" with its creepy, brooding synth work and "The Crying Orc" with its emotional guitar, which is the sole instrument.

The most obvious difference between Burzum and the other black metal acts at the time, are the vocals. Vikernes doesn't exactly use the witchy-type of vocals, strongly influenced by Bathory (Darkthrone, Immortal and others all adopted this). Instead, Varg uses some very human-sounding vocals, albeit terrifying. His vocals sound like a human being tortured both mentally and physically, and they're downright terrifying. Some people might think they're too much and will be put off by them alone (I was one, once upon a time). But with time, your ears might adjust to them, and if so, you'll notice that they add a certain charm to Burzum's early albums. It's all about the darkness.

Vikernes had the ideas as early as here, and while the first albums were all recorded in a very short space of time (a year or so), the progression and musicianship improved gradually on each and every record. This album gives us a very raw and young idea of what is to come from Burzum. With that said, 'Burzum' is the weakest of Vikernes' early classics. It's by no means a weak album; not at all, but it feels like Varg hadn't utilized his excellent vision and ideas properly. He did it well here, very well on 'Det som engang var' and excellently on 'Hvis lyset tar oss' and 'Filosofem'.

I think that 'Burzum' is a monumental record, partially due to Vikernes' notoriety, but musically it's a very different black metal record. He was indeed ahead of his time and would probably become the most influential black metal musician from the 90s era.