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One of the best black metal releases ever - 94%

Panzerschreckrieg, July 2nd, 2014

Burzum is the name of the band of artist Varg Vikernes. He is considered a legendary black metal artist. He is widely known for his controversy surrounding the burning of multiple churches in Norway related to the underground black metal scene. He is also known for the slaying of Euronymous, who played with him on Mayhem’s magnum opus, “De Mysterious Dom Sathanas”. Much controversy has also surrounded him regarding his beliefs. Despite having so much controversy, he is respected by many in the second wave of black metal fandom. He is also one of the pioneers of the style.

When listening to this album a multitude of ideas come to mind. The thought of walking down a beaten path in the middle of the night, hearing the whisper of the wind against the trees in the cold comes to my mind vividly. I also envision the album cover art during a lot of the music. Vikernes has the ability to produce music that makes you think of the night. The music is so dark, but at the same time it’s beautiful. Listening to this album in a completely dark room will be sure to cause an out of body experience, especially when it gets to the first ambient track. The riffs have a primitive sound that helps to encompass the archaic feel this album has. Feeble Screams From the Forests Unknown is a great example of this primitive movement in the riffs. The melodies themselves create a sinister atmosphere. They could literally sound dark played on a xylophone. Vikernes possesses the ability to do this well. It’s what black metal is all about, after all.

The guitar-work album features tremolo picked riffs with minor chord arpeggio riffs. The guitar isn't necessarily technical, but he definitely knows how to play the instrument. The guitar tone itself is rough, abrasive, and on the lower end of production quality. This all helps add to the atmospheric qualities of it. The guitar features heavy distortion, but there is no problem hearing the haunting melodies that exude from the axe. He is a master of crafting melodic lines that are stirring and unsettling, while still holding your attention with catchiness. Just listen to the dooming (mental) breakdown that happens during the first three minutes of Feeble Screams From the Forests Unknown.

Something else notable about this album is the vocal performance. Varg sounds like he’s being tortured while he was recording. Nattram from Silencer should have taken notes from this album before he tried doing, “Death - Pierce Me.” His vocals pierce over the top of the low bass and distorted guitars. Burzum does a great job of balancing his vocal aggressiveness with the guitar. The two never really compete with each other, and go well together. For a good example of this, check out, “Ea, Lord of the Depths.” They really complement each other here. His mournful, dark, and animalistic vocals go great with the guitar line, especially on the main hook.

Burzum is definitely a second wave black metal gem. I’d say it’s an essential listen for anyone serious about black metal. It’s best listened to in darkness. After all, that’s what the name “Burzum” means. I’d say this is the type of release you shouldn't judge after one listen. It takes a few times to truly hear what the album has to offer.