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A Flame Unto the End - 78%

DisciplineofSteel, April 13th, 2007

The first, and most noticable quality of Burzum's first demo, is the terrible sound quality. Depending on the release media you happen to listen to, this can range from nearly inaudible drums to a hiss that is equal in volume to the guitar. In addition, the volume levels do fluctuate throughout the release, even within a single track, at times.

In some ways, the production of this demo adds to its charm and mood. In "Channeling the Power of Souls", the keyboards have an ethereal quality, expanding out of the background hiss and then retreating, once more, back into nothingness.

There is a fantasy element to this music, an epic quality. Eschewing complexity for emotional resonance, each piece defines its own space and terms. Ascending guitar slides in "Spell of Destruction" not only mark a shift in phrase, but accentuate a philosophical point.

This is the nascent artist finding his voice. It is emotionally complex, compositionally interesting, and difficult in its language. It is "orchestral" music played on primitive instruments. In every way, this first release from Burzum defines everything that is good about black metal, and sets out a trajectory for the new genre to follow.

Hearing this now, over fifteen years later, I am still amazed, and moved.