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A paler shade of past darkness. - 72%

hells_unicorn, November 29th, 2011

Revisiting the past is a dangerous game, but it is doubly so when one's past works are considered sacred relics of an artistic genesis of sorts. This is the dilemma that most would like to thrust upon Varg with the release of what are largely his most widely influential works in a modernized format. Granted, the Burzum concept of modern could be analogized as the difference between late medieval Gothic architecture vs. early renaissance era architecture with a similarly Gothic feel. That is basically what "From The Depths Of Darkness" is, a rehash of olden warriors with swords drawn who just happen to have discovered gun powder and are being supported by a handful of primitive cannons.

Anyone with a clear memory of the sonic characteristics of "Burzum" and "Det Som Engang Var" would expect any kind of a compilation of various songs from each respective album to be a jarring affair, shifting back and forth between various low-fi manifestations in a manner not all that dissimilar from Darkthrone's largely panned compilation "Preparing For War". This re-visitation, however, is a frighteningly consistent one in respect of production, coming off almost as though the exact same mixing levels and settings that gave us the recent "Fallen" were employed here. While definitely dark and misty sounding, it has a mellow smoothness to it that contrasts with the olden frost character of the early 90s.

But the real departure to behold here is in Varg's vocal interpretation. Whether it be a shift in sound preference or a necessity resulting from a fully matured voice, what is heard on here is more akin to recent Darkthrone releases where a low end growl replaces the high pitched shrieks of Burzum's past. With it comes a sense of moderation of character, something that is probably alien to most long time adherents to the cult of the 2nd wave. To put it plainly, the former overwhelming sentiment of agonized suffering has been replaced with a somewhat vindictive, but largely focused anger that is likened to a wiser man still being pissed off at the modern world.

Beyond the upgrade in production practices and a revamp of the instrumentation on the ambient keyboard number "Channeling The Power Of Souls Into A New God" into a slightly more menacing, guitar dominated beast, there is little change to be observed here. For all the talk of Varg allegedly profaning his former fits of brilliance, this is largely an inoffensive tribute to his own past. In fact, the biggest flaw that this album suffers from is that it doesn't really go much further than remembering the past. This is not something that can be counted as essential, nor is it some unworthy fit of pandering. It is more a sufficient rendering of already explored territory, and whether it was a necessary one largely terminates on whether one prefers the new production practices that were adopted after Varg left prison.