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No excuses, this is crap - 3%

Napero, April 22nd, 2006

Frequent requests and weighty opinions by several respected users of the Metal Archives, a few of them among the most profilic and trusted reviewers around, have led me to re-evaluate my original review on this album; I even took the time, the effort, and the eventual half-torturous discomfort to listen to this incredible piece of poop once again, in an effort to find any redeeming qualities in the sound, compositions and performance. I didn't find any. Actually, the experience was worse than I remembered. So, instead of the original, and inexplainably controversial, poetic approach, here is an evaluation of the album and its importance in prose. Maybe this is easier to read. After all, we don't wish to have our users dislocating their brains, or (oh, the horror!) simply passing by and ignoring a review because of unconventional gimmicks.

The circumstances surrounding the album are famous: Varg in prison, only using a keyboard and MIDI to record his vision, bravely overcoming the difficulties and finally releasing the fruits of his efforts as the fifth full-length of Burzum. The alleged value, if there is any, is supposed to spring from the genius, the will to prevail in the face of difficulty, and the vision contained in these simple compositions. The occasional observer, with little knowledge of Burzum's earlier works, even less respect for the goofy Norwegian, and minimal will to listen to anything that doesn't either please the ears or make the head bang, is forced by the dreadful experience to question if those who claim to like the album haven't simply been mislead by the reputation of the lonely pseudo-philosophical dude in his cell.

The bottom-line is simple. The album is practically horrible to listen to, both because of the terrible sound and the too simplistic, naivistic songs. I can't locate a single grain of the so-called genius in any of the songs, and after a dozen spins, I'm no longer willing to torment myself by trying. Since the album is not metal, and it uses the approach of classical music, it should be judged as a non-metal album, too, and in that field the competition is too fierce for Dauði Baldrs to survive much longer than an inept figure-skater in an ice hockey ring.

The music, in its repetitiveness, ugliness and simplicity, does not fly. It tries to invoke emotions, though. There are "melancholic" parts, some "beautiful" passages, attempts at something that can perhaps be described as "serenity", and possibly striving for epic grandeur. The main emotion, after all the cards are on the table, is just irritation. I'd expect to hear this as the background music in an overlong clay animation based on a Bulgarian folk tale, produced in East Germany in 1974. It would be of better quality, though, the folks in East Europe in those days didn't have a keyboard with MIDI, and would have been forced to use real instruments in the hands of a decent chamber orchestra or something similary functional.

The songs are essentially cheap two-finger compositions, and some of them keep repeating the same two bars for minutes. The simplicity might be an artistic choice; on the other hand, it could just as well be the result of fundamental incapability of doing anything else.

Maybe the good stuff lies in the romantic approach to times past, the longing for medieval and/or mythical times? Maybe. There was a considerable nationalistic movement in Finland's arts in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and that movement produced some of the most notable finnish pieces of classical music, along with some of the most famous paintings. There are hints of similar longing for the pastoral times, the mythical "good times", the age of legends in Dauði Baldrs. But the delivery of those ideas, too, is stuck in the past, and such romantic ideas have been communicated musically a hundred times more convincingly a century earlier. This music is simply childish, and were I to seek the atmosphere attempted here, I'd simply put some decent classical into the player. This is a poor, redundant attempt that lacks depth and ideas, and treads paths that have been overgrown by the forests of time.

The music being what it is, a question surfaces and demands an answer: what do the people who rate the album highly see in this? Do they indeed listen to it with any frequency? I honestly can't imagine anyone actually doing that. Therefore, it seems that other factors must be at work in the higher ratings. Is it the legendary fame of Varg? Is it the naivistic ideology embedded in the music? Is it bright-eyed, unquestioning worship of something that simply must be worth worshipping, and the frantic subconscious search for anything "deeper" that could perhaps be hidden in these worthless songs? I don't have an answer. Also, I am most unwilling to attach any of those values to my listening experience, and looking at the Dauði Baldrs simply as music, it blows a donkey.

The fact that the medium was minimal might work as an explanation for the crappiness of the sound. But it will not be a plausible excuse for the inherent silliness of the music itself. In the final analysis, the origin of the lousy sound should not matter, and should be taken at face value, without any regard to the reasons behind it; listen to the album as just another album, without attaching any non-musical values to it, and feel the bitter blood dripping from your ears. I shall listen to this no more.