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Misunderstood? Probably Not. - 85%

blacksabbath1968, March 6th, 2018

What can be said about "Dauði Baldrs" that hasn't already been said? Most people hate it, and considering Varg used MIDI only on this release in 1994/1995, that alone is pretty damning for most listeners. It doesn't help that every track is in the same droning, atmospheric style Burzum is known for, which was cemented in the previous album, "Filosofem". So why am I giving this album an 85, despite it's flaws? Because I love it. This album, along with his previous ambient works, are what got me into dungeon synth/darkwave/whatever you want to call it in the first place.

I've heard complaints that the MIDI sound font used on the album takes away any and all atmosphere that Varg was trying to achieve, and while it's probably not what he had in mind, I disagree. Yes, most of the tracks do drone on, but back to the previous album for a minute. Is there any reason why "Rundtgåing av den transcendentale egenhetens støtte" should be 25 minutes long when it has seemingly one or two changes over the course of the track? Over the years, I've warmed up to it, but I feel that the atmosphere created in the tracks on "Dauði Baldrs" come across better. As I'm listening to it right now, I almost feel like I'm in a medieval castle myself listening to a court musician play dirges...OK, maybe nothing that pretentious.

The album's concept is supposed to be about the story of Balder, but none of the tracks have lyrics. Instead, descriptions of "what the atmosphere of each track should be" are given...in old Norse. Yeah, alright Varg, you're very kvlt, we get it. I see that there are translations in English, however. I don't really care about the concept too much. I'm also not familiar with the story of Balder, but it seems like an interesting enough subject to look into. However, I don't agree with having to describe what each track is supposed to "feel like", but if that's the only way to stick to the concept, so be it.

I've heard this album be described as "video game music", among other things. Plinking piano, orchestral and choir samples fill the album's 40 minute running time. As someone that appreciates game soundtracks, I can appreciate it on that level as well. If Varg had access to proper synth at the time, this album might of been a classic in the eyes of Burzum fans, it might of been worse, who knows. It's an ambient album made with MIDI, and it's great. Not for everyone, even dungeon synth/dark ambient fans.