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A Solid Album - 90%

Iron Wizard, December 27th, 2015

While better known for his more mature later efforts such as Hvis Lyset Tar Oss and Filosofem (and the murder of Euronymous), Varg has some great early releases, such as this album, Aske, and Det Som Engang Var. Burzum's self titled debut may come off as a relatively immature album, it has nearly as much depth to it as an album such as Filosofem.

Burzum's later material consists of longer songs, with one longer than twenty five minutes. In a bit of a contrast, this album has mostly shorter songs. "War" is an almost thrash metal like song that clocks in at only two and a half minutes. This shows that the album is a more straightforward black metal album than Burzum's later album.

The music on "Burzum" is overwhelmingly beautiful. "The Crying Orc" is a rather sad short instrumental, consisting of only guitar. It is one of Varg's most beautiful compositions. Other songs rely on an approach designed to evoke thought rather than emotion. "Ea, Lord of the Depths" is a poetic song that requires a lot of thinking. The mysterious atmosphere of the track is unbelievable. Still, there are some aggressive songs. The aforementioned "War" is one of the most aggressive songs to ever be written by Varg.

A Burzum album would not be complete without some ambient music. While the black metal provides a huge amount of atmosphere, the ambient music adds a slightly different edge to the music. "Channeling the Power of Souls into a New God" is an absolutely beautiful ambient piece, and a true standout. "Dungeons of Darkness" is the other ambient piece. It takes a very different approach to creating a dark atmosphere. Instead of using only synthesizers, it makes use of a "guest appearance" from Euronymous, who also played at least one of the solos on "War". On "Dungeons of Darkness", Euronymous is banging on a gong in the background, creating a very interesting sound. This sound is very haunting, even though it is not an "in your face" song, it still drifts in your head in an odd way.

One of the first things that someone listening to "Burzum" will notice is the vocals. Varg Vikernes shrieks in an almost wolflike way. Songs like the eerie "Spell of Destruction" feature excellent shrieks. "Spell of Destruction" comes to a strange part where there are only guitars and screamed vocals. That is one of the best moments of the entire album.

The one song that I think is a bit below the rest of the album is "My Journey to the Stars". It is a good song, but it lacks the same atmosphere as the rest of "Burzum". Instead of putting the listener in a dark forest, they find themselves drifting through space. Varg claims that the song is symbolic, so it most likely has a deeper meaning than floating into space. One could say the same thing about "War", though. I like the song, because it is almost a break from the more serious stuff. While serious in its own respect, the song is quite fun to listen to.

"Burzum" is an eight track album, but it still feels like it could be longer. To remedy this problem, many versions come with a bonus Aske E.P. Despite feeling short, Burzum is still an album worthy of a lot of respect, and an essential.