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Hliðskjálf - 80%

EvilAllen, September 21st, 2017

Well, two additional years have gone by since Varg's previous release, which is entitled "Dauði Baldrs". Here we are, back in 1999 (metaphorically, of course). A lot of improvement has surfaced since the 1997 record was first released. Keep in mind that Varg was still in prison during this time as well. Not to mention Burzum's final release, one-year before he concluded the band's first run. According to Varg, if I remember precisely, during a prison interview, he mentioned he was allowed to use a keyboard for two weeks when he was assembling the Dauði Baldrs album, which in my opinion, was probably the biggest mistake that Burzum have ever distressed. But enough of that, let's get back to this record, Hliðskjálf. As I was mentioning, during that same prison interview Varg was given a keyboard, yet again (not sure if it was the same model or an entirely different one, yet this one sounds more advanced than the previous one). During this attempt at making an ambient record, Varg was quite successful nonetheless. Varg managed to create this delicate-sounding piece of art in a week's less time than his previous foundation, which was (and still very much is) worth less than one-thousand-year-old shit (seriously).

As noted in the paragraph above, I stated he was allowed to use a keyboard once more, which was, in all honesty, a brilliant idea this time around. Varg literally took the time he was given and put some serious thought into forming this alluring record. The built-in synths on this keyboard are so much more attractive than the previous synths that were displayed on his last release. The simplicity is still there, in all fairness. The point is, it's not nearly as dreadful and it occurs a lot less. And I mean a lot less. This album actually develops, matures, progresses and it's at a slower pace, which is perfectly magnificent for ambient music. I don't see what the problem with that would be? Varg's actually using instruments featured on the keyboard that are absolutely acceptable as an ambient-themed release. This is far from a failing record. I can't see anyone displaying more hatred for this release than his last one. By all means, this is not a terrible album. You could even suggest that Hliðskjálf's theme would be featured in an early 1990s Disney-animated, motion picture.

On another plus noteworthy mention, the ambient tracks are a lot shorter than his last album. With the fair amount of simplicity on this record and with the album still featuring repetitiveness (though, not to an extreme and unfathomable distance this time), by having shorter tracks, it doesn't make the musical assembly extraordinarily nettlesome. My three personal favourites on this record, not in actual order, just the order of how the album lines them up, are "Tuistos Herz", "Ansuzgardaraiwô" and finally "Die Liebe Nerþus". All the ambient tracks are good though. This would be the kind of music you would want to listen to on a calm, rainy afternoon, just looking out the dampened window into an empty field.

They're such wonderful and dainty piano harmonies throughout some of this record, alongside a tremolo. Also, a great deal of suspense is carried out throughout the entire thirty-three-minute album. Something it could relate to in an Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode even. There are just so many possibilities where this record could be displayed in film or television of many sorts. One could even shed tears to this album, that's how powerful it's tune truly is altogether. I've listened to this album four times and I could honestly listen to it evermore. A lot of love and passionate melodies entirely. There are also a lot of calamity-related melodies, it can be deeply saddening at times, too. I would suggest this to a decently high degree, that this would be a piece of masterwork. You can almost imagine yourself being displayed on a filming screen (watching yourself), dead center adventuring deeply within a very misty and dank forest.

This album produces so much assurance, I can't see how one would feel disappointed listening to it. I feel Varg's limitation wasn't nearly as limited as the last time. There is an astronomical aggregate of untainted imagination published here, incredible really. This is how ambience should sound, quite honestly. It's lust for adventure is boundless. It has the drive to do more than it does. And it does a lot as it is. Very beautiful audio, almost crystal clear. Really smooth, no distorted quality. One wouldn't expect this to be something Burzum would release, but in reality it only exists because of Burzum. This is an extremely delicate album and should be appreciated by everyone. Varg should be absolutely proud of this work, you can visualize that this came from the heart. An effort not at all wasted or despised. It's a bit of a ignominy that this album didn't become more famous for what it displayed (and still displays) during it's time.

The atmospheric essence captures your imagination and takes you away from a very real reality. There is so much to explore in this album, it's like an exciting journey, you could live it evermore. Like a millennium configuration, this needs to be always remembered. There was too much put into this beautiful recording to be ignored. You wouldn't think something so deeply formidable could be constructed in prison. Varg's talents really glistened when he was creating this album's atmosphere. Extremely emotional. Even velvety drums are trademarked on and off throughout the record, which adds a bass-themed depth. The melodic flute-playing is very soothing. Hell, this entire album could have done very, very well as a symphonic black metal record, created by Burzum. Who knows, we may not have even got this fine piece of work if Varg hadn't been in prison? That's something to think about. We'll never really know.

Yes, this album should be suggested to anyone and everyone, for that matter! It's blended and formed so well, you can't just hate this release because of it not being black metal. You have to be open-minded and realistic about it. I'm not saying it's going to suit everyone's interest, but it should be listened to once by everyone, just to try it out. It's very adventures and keep you interested, that's what a good album does. It makes you return for more each time. It also has a mighty sense of drama. This isn't the sound Varg started off with on his debut album, which is self-titled as "Burzum". This is definitely not the Burzum from 1992-1996 either. This is man who has turned Burzum into a project with multiple sounds and not one particular sound. He's blossomed the band's general theme altogether. I'm happy to see this side of Varg emerge the way he did. There's a great amount of verity right here. I would very much suggest this as one of the first (possibly the first in general) recommended albums to share to anyone who're just getting into Burzum. I wouldn't waste the chance showing someone who has a stalwart sense of musical value this. If you're into ambient-based music or even classical-styled music, and if you haven't heard this fantastic album yet and enjoy Burzum's work, I very much recommend giving it a try. It's utterly amazing!

Sparse ambient BM album ends with whimper, no bang - 50%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, October 1st, 2012

Second and last album in what was originally intended to be a trilogy based on Norse myths and legends about how the world would end, "hliðskjálf" is a better effort than the previous "Daudi Baldrs": Vikernes got some half-decent synthesisers and the result is a sonically richer and deeper work though it's still quite limited in its range of expression due in part to the man's heavy reliance on minimalist repetition as his main compositional template. The album has great atmospheres but sounds very much like a soundtrack to a film or documentary with gentle New Age spiritual or environmental themes: not really what Vikernes had in mind!

Most tracks are a mix of German and proto-Germanic titles. "Tuistos Herz" starts off the album with a curiously Oriental sound and ambience that would be right for an old Japanese historical drama about a bunch of ronin samurai wandering the countryside and secretly planning to avenge their lord's death. It's very spacious and effective as an introduction to the track "Der Tod Wuotans" ("The Death of Wotan") which initially threatens a lot of bombast but turns out to be a melancholy yet dignified and restrained elegy with a solo repeating synth-oboe melody a major highlight of the piece here. The emotion is sorrowful without being maudlin.

The next track "Ansuzgardaraiwo" is surprisingly industrial in rhythm yet there is a quaint mythical feel about it as though we've entered a Tolkienesque world in which dwarves are hard at work in smithies pounding out iron swords, helmets and shields. "Die Liebe Nerthus" ("The Love of Nerthus") continues the mediaeval feel with simple melodies that repeat over and over on harpsichord and zorna-like instruments (a zorna is a reedy woodwind) and the occasional hand-percussion beat. Subsequent tracks tend to sound ever more sparse and fragile with repetitive fragile melodies played on what seems like a large variety of instruments, until you remember a keyboard instrument is capable of replicating most conventional musical instruments, and the melodies rarely developing further beyond their simple circular one-finger notes. This wouldn't matter if the subject of the album had been a spiritual one about finding one's proper path in life and meditating on it but the subject's actually meant to be very violent: it is about the run-up to Ragnarok and the destruction of the gods, the giants and their battleground the Earth with humans being part of the, er, collateral damage.

For such sparse tunes, the acoustics and the space in-between sounds have to be precisely determined and while some tracks like "Frijos goldene Tranen" ("Freya's golden hair", I think) are very bewitching, delicate and gorgeous in sound, the space behind them is blank when perhaps it should be cold and cavernous to give the music a 3-D sculptural feel.

The album ends with a whimper rather than a bang and doesn't inflame listeners with anticipation and excitement for the third album, which would have been about Ragnarok, the end of the world and its rebirth, cleansed of all evil and sin; Vikernes decided to abandon the project and concentrate on writing. Generally the earlier tracks sound much better than the later ones and have more individuality as separate tracks with their own atmospheres and emotions; it's as if about half-way through the recording Vikernes lost interest in this project but continued with it just to get it out of the way. Later tracks can be downright basic and one-dimensional in structure. I get the feeling that Vikernes got a bit lost in this second installment and tried to make something more out of it but couldn't.

For all the atmosphere and beauty that can be found on a number of tracks, there isn't much sense of Vikernes being fully immersed in the human emotions of the gods and giants as they prepare for what they know will be the ultimate showdown that will end in their deaths. The protagonists and antagonists' fear of death and dying, their sense that Ragnarok is what they were born for, perhaps their anger and frustration that there could have been a better way and the world needn't have become so evil that it has to die, their sorrow that so many opportunities for reconciliation and forgiveness of one another's foibles and mistakes were lost or wasted, their rage at themselves for being so stupid and short-sighted - all these emotions and much more could have inspired some really great ambient / symphonic black metal.

Throne of tranquility. - 95%

hells_unicorn, November 26th, 2011

There's a definite mystique to Burzum's music, regardless to whatever era it comes from, something which transcends the ideological and personal quirks of the craftsman, and even his most infamous exploits. The more exposed and simplistic the presentation, the more magical the results tend to be. While most would confess an obvious preference to the 1992-1996 black metal era of Varg's repertoire, many are right to give attention to the 2 odd albums out that came about during his incarceration. "Hliðskjálf" is seen by the majority as being the strong of these two ambient concoctions, mostly for the superior synthesizer that was employed.

However, there is perhaps a more subtle reason for exploring this opus first, and it plays into what ultimately makes for a superior ambient album. While both this and its predecessor are possessed of musical ideas well worthy of strenuous repetition, this has a stronger sense of the subtlety that goes into crafting a contemplative musical landscape, one that is much more akin to the restful, dream-like quality that Varg often states as his compositional intent. It is fairly reminiscent of Eastern monastic meditation music, perhaps taking a few hints from the percussive quality of Indonesian Gamelan ensembles and Japanese ambient composers, alongside the remnant of medieval sounds that were pronounced on "Dauði Baldrs". But for the less familiar with the Eastern approach to ambiance, a few select instrumentals from "Drawing Down The Moon" contained a similarly percussive character.

From an accessibility standpoint, this is also a superior effort in that while equally minimalistic as its predecessor, the scope of repetition is much shorter, as are the song lengths. Even when breaking the 6 minute mark, which involves two of the more percussive numbers on here, the flow of things is very organic and smooth. While the album's title refers to the throne of Odin, the musical contents reveal a land that is mysterious, but not quite as grave or forbidding as the vast battlefields, exploits of blood and fire, and punishing winter storms that tend to typify the Norse rendering of mythology. This is the mirror opposite of violence, a sort of quiet tranquility that could perhaps be likened to a lone shaman local to Varg's homeland keeping to his own hermitage and simply contemplating the world around him.

Putting aside all the obvious controversies surrounding the band's name is obviously impossible, but it is often necessary to separate the work from the man, and the works found here are very inviting for anyone who wants to hang up his spiked gauntlets and blood stained war hammer for a while and meditate while at one's personal chambers. This is an album that can, with the right mood being present in the listener, morph the most humble abode into a veritable palace of the ancients within said consumer's mind. Perhaps it's more fitting for a film than a lone studio effort, but whatever functionality is attributed to it, it bridges the gap between sufficiency and efficiency masterfully.

Mellowed madman with a music box - 63%

autothrall, March 19th, 2011

Hliðskjálf, named for the all seeing throne of Odin, is the sixth Burzum full-length, the second written and recorded during Varg Vikernes's incarceration. Like it's predecessor, Dauði Baldrs, it was written purely as an ambient/neo-classical work, with no black metal involved. This time, however, a keyboard was acquired for the recording, so the tones sound a little richer perhaps than the MIDI used previously. The problem is that the heightened production quality this creates is counteracted here by the drab minimalism used in these compositions. Burzum is no stranger to the aesthetic, and in the past, has triumphed with the strategy, but where Dauði Baldrs possessed some sweeping, rousing architecture that stood tall in the memory, there are very few moments here that create that same effect.

This is ultimately less Medieval in structure, and has more of a New Age vibe about it. The sparse nature of the compositions remind me of the Japanese artist Kitaro, though not as skilled at the spaces in between the subtle melodies. Hliðskjálf is almost pure mood, with few if any dominant strings of notes being assembled through its conjuration. There are exceptions to this rule, like "Der Tod Wuotans (The Death of Wotan)", or the brief passages of "Der weinende Hadnur (The Weeping Hadnur)" and "Die Liebe Nerþus (The Love of Nerthus)" where spritely melody is evoked, but sadly even these come off as rather bland in the long run. I felt the more powerful pieces were "Tuistos Herz (Tuisto's Heart)", which involves sheer New Age nuance with shimmering synthesizers and thrumming atmosphere, and the dour and incredibly sparse "Einfühlungsvermögen (The Power of Empathy)", with a very faint hint of windchime-like noise behind the deeper chime percussion and solemn keys.

Though I had previously juggled this and the post-hiatus, 2010 album Belus back and forth as to which was my least favorite of Burzum's full-length albums, it is Hliðskjálf which inevitably comes up with the shortest straw. Certainly this is not a bad background piece if you're caught in contemplation or desire something tranquil for nature or navel gazing, and several gleaming moments are caught within the amber, but the ideas do not feel as well formed as anything the Norseman had previously recorded, and it feels almost interchangeable with a large host of New Age and minimalist ambient projects I've heard. It's the most peaceful thing Vikernes has ever written, and the biggest contrast to his black metal works, so it's surprising in that regard, but it doesn't paint in truly compelling shades. I realize many loathe Dauði Baldrs due to its crude and cheesy MIDI polish, but at least that album had an ominous zeal about it that I enjoy, and in truth most of those tracks have never abandoned my memory. I enjoy the packaging, concept and the written narrative here (much like the last two works), but I am rarely if ever struck with the desire to listen to it.

-autothrall
http://www.fromthedustreturned.com

Burzum: Hliðskjálf - 67%

ImpureSoul, February 12th, 2010

For my second album review, I’m doing Hliðskjálf (damned if I know how to pronounce that) by Burzum.

First off, I’ll say that even though this is Burzum, it’s not at all what comes to mind when people think about the band. In other words, everything on Hliðskjálf is done with a keyboard. It isn’t black metal by any stretch of the imagination, outside of the fact that some of the songs have a creepy feeling similar to the music from Filosofem or Hvis Lyset Tar Oss.

The overall sound of the music isn’t at all like the music from Burzum’s other ambient album, Dauði Baldrs. All the things that were wrong with Dauði Baldrs have been reduced here. For one thing, the songs have more layers and variation, and flow more, making them feel much more open and free. They don’t have that same rigid feeling that Dauði Baldrs had. Best of all, the songs progress quicker, and have shorter running time to boot. I wouldn’t completely jump on the Burzum bandwagon and say “Varg is an absolute musical genius,” because, while this does have a pretty strong atmosphere for me, it isn’t a masterwork, and I do feel that this album was an experimental thing; a way for Varg to pass the time in prison while keeping up with his interest in music. But while the problems from Dauði Baldrs are reduced, they are still present. There are songs on here (Tuistoz Herz for example) that could have been much better if there had been more variation and had been shorter, although the improved atmosphere in this album does somewhat make up for it.

Anyway, I’d say that if you want to sample a song or two from this album, the highlights for me are Frijôs Goldene Tränen and Der Tod Wuotans. Frijôs Goldene Tränen is a pretty short song, clocking in at two minutes or so. Whenever I finish listening to the album, it’s the song that resonates with me the most, and I usually get a strong sensation of floating during the song. Der Tod Wuotans is dragged on a little bit too long, but other than that it’s probably the most atmospheric song on here, especially if you're looking at the cool cover art while listening to it. There is one particular song that usually gets on my nerves for being much too repetitive, and that’s Ansuzgardaraiwô. It has a pretty cool intro, and then a louder synth pattern comes in, which also sounds good… until it’s repeated a million times. Not much atmosphere in the song, either.

So, all in all, this album definitely takes a while to get used to, but if you go in with an open mind, you’ll probably warm up to it. But I do think that it could have definitely been better.

Background music - 55%

linkavitch, August 31st, 2009

So the second of the two ambient releases by Burzum is Hliðskjálf. Even though some of the problems from Dauði Baldrs are fixed, there are still quite a few problems in this release as well. The only thing I can compare Hliðskjálf to would be Dauði Baldrs I guess. Well when you compare Hliðskjálf to Dauði Baldrs it’s a massive improvement. The songs are much shorter, most songs have more than just two or three keyboard melodies in them, and there’s no more MIDI use. However, it plays out just like Dauði Baldrs, so it can be rather boring.

Just like the last album the songs are very simple. Each song has about one or two main melodies played throughout while another melody is played in the background of the first melody. Yet that’s the problem, each song has only a few melodies in it. The songs are shorter which is better, yet it’s just as dull as the last album because just two melodies in each song don’t cut it.

Each song on Hliðskjálf comes with included lyrics for each song just as on Dauði Baldrs, but the problem is still the same as on Dauði Baldrs. For me it has to do with uncreative thinking I guess. I just find it hard to picture all of what’s going on in a generally short song. I read the lyrics in “Der Weinende Hadnur”, but the song isn’t enough to picture all the information in the lyrics (the songs under two minutes).

There are two ways that you can look at Hliðskjálf, both of which involve it being an ambient release. The first one would be that it creates a depressing and saddening atmosphere. The second one would be that it’s an emotionally heavy album full of feeling that tells an epic story. However, you cannot have both of them for this album. Now when I look at it by the first one mentioned, I can see an image. Think about it, the albums long, boring, and tiresome. When I listen to it I get tired, and when I get tired I get depressed, so it works out for me. Yet, when I look at it by the second way, I don’t see anything. I don’t know if it’s me being unimaginative or what, but when I listen to this album, and try to picture what’s going on in the song my mind is blank. I can’t really pick up any sort of feeling in it or anything. I mean lets face it, it’s a keyboard, and it’s an inanimate object. You can’t really feel anything with just a keyboard. If there were some vocals or anything else really I guess I could see some in there, but just not with only a keyboard.

Fix the major flaws of the previous album (MIDI sound and song length) yet don’t fix the other flaws (bland, boring songs) is all there is to Hliðskjálf really. It’s just quiet music that doesn’t go anywhere that you listen to in the background. I guess I would consider the album more depressing compared to the other album but that’s only because this one makes me tired a lot faster because it doesn’t sound like some old video game. But really it’s nothing more than background music.

Atmosphere in a Bottle - 93%

1stMetalheads, October 1st, 2008

Varg sure had a good stockpile of material set up for him, it almost seems as if he collected it for the sole purpose of releasing it after his imprisonment, but eventually he ran out. Since guitars are apparently deadly weapons (in their defense, some guitars could inflict fatal stab wounds) the count had to look to other methods to express how much he likes Hel because his brown-haired ass ain’t going to Valhalla.

So, Grishnackh set out to find a new instrument, first he tried a MIDI keyboard and sounded like a robot attempting to explain the 2008 election without blowing up from stupid overload. Then, he got the bright idea to use more digital means to express himself. The result is Hlidskjalf, or as I like to call it, Rock In Foggy Forest.

A ambient album isn’t really that big a stretch for such a black metal act dedicated to atmosphere, and it shows. All the feeling of previous Burzum albums is here, and tempered by a new element, beauty. Listening to this album, you could just close your eyes and see the frozen land of Norway. Some of the songs are faster, some bombastic, some soft and ‘feely’ but all of them have this atmosphere throughout.

Also of note is how this album feels almost nostalgic. Varg may have some strange beliefs, but he really knows how to capture how he feels about the old Norway. There’s a sense of yearning for those old times, and combined with the atmosphere, really paints a complete picture. Where some albums have a story, or an overriding theme, this one is dedicated to the capturing of an emotion. This is basically the inner feeling that Vikernes feels for the Norwegian past, and the sadness for something gone.

However, there will certainly be haters of this album. If you think some of his other albums sound more like Varg doing vocals through his ass than the Norwegian countryside then you won’t get Hlidskjalf. Most of the emotions in this album are felt through the atmosphere. If you can’t get that feeling with Filosofem, or any of his other albums, then you won’t get it here.

In the end though, Burzum fans will love it and the detractors will hate it. What is impressive is that Varg manages with this brand new thing, and converts the success he had before to an entirely new genre. You probably already know if you like this album, and if not, listen to some of Burzums other songs.

I get it… but it doesn’t get me. - 42%

PigBenis, May 30th, 2008

At the risk of being strung up by fanboys, I must speak my mind on this one. I understand exactly what Vikernes was trying to do on this unpronounceable album. But I just don’t think he expressed what he was trying to express very well. For example, with “Frijo’s lonesome mourns” as it is said in English, or if you must “Frijôs einsames Trauern”, I felt… absolutely nothing. It painted very little picture in my head, and just succeeded at making me stare blankly at the computer screen for a few minutes. I picked up the booklet, and read the song’s description (because there are no lyrics, just a booklet telling you what’s supposed to be going on in the music). APPARENTLY it was a mother mourning the loss of her son. I didn’t visualize that once when I listened to it the first time. I listened to it again, and only for the first 30 seconds did the music portray a mourning mother to me. For the rest of the 6 minutes of the piece, I had no visualization whatsoever. It was just so quiet and detached. Quite disappointing. I expected better from Varg, the genius behind “Filosofem”.

The best way to listen to this would probably be to ignore the description booklet altogether, and let it paint a picture in your head with just the music itself. There are bits where the music perfectly portrays these “song descriptions”. However, there are far more bits where the music just does not match, especially “Frijôs einsames Trauern”.

That being said, I reckon that Varg has done well, considering he only had a prison synthesizer. There were moments that were absolutely beautiful, such as “Tuisto’s Herz”, which all around created a very spaced out, relaxed feeling, and some of “Der Tod Wuotans”, with the spacey sounding up and down scales and the war drums. Also, though I suggested not to rely too much on the booklet, “Einfühlungsvermögen” or “The Power of Empathy” worked best for me when I actually read the booklet. This is untrue for all the other songs, so pick it up and read it just for this one. The song conjures a feeling of terrified pity in the listener, and I actually appreciate the booklet only for this song.

Shit bits: “Ansuzgardaraiwô”, or “Warriors of Ansuzgarda”. Oh my god. Horrible. Horrible track. For a few seconds, it plays quiet, uninspired, generic ambient, then all of a sudden, TWO FUCKING CHORDS. OVER. AND OVER. AND OVER. Again. It’s like this for the entire fucking piece. If you thought the snare on St Anger was annoying, think again. It’s like Varg compressed the entirety of everything annoying about that snare and shoved it into one song, labeled “ambient” by the tr00 followers. Also, the mercifully short “Frijôs goldene Tränen”, with notes so high they would make a piccolo player wince. And also, as I have said earlier, a frequent inability to properly express anything he was trying to express, as according to the booklet.

Crap though the resources were, a talented musician like Varg who produced such opii as Filosofem should certainly have been able to provoke better imagery than he did with this album. My suggestion is let the music, not the description booklet, do the talking.

A Pure Expression of Nordicist Romanticism - 85%

Lycaon, October 9th, 2004

It may seem impossible at first thought the fact that a musician can succeed in creating such an incredible atmosphere with so much limited recources. Varg Vikernes has succeeded again, this time in providing the (final?) chapter for Burzum's lonely journey towards cultural awareness and aesthetic purity. The music of Hlidsjkalf stands as a monument of austerity, dedication and honesty against the decadent plastic art that reigns in these times.

One thing can be safely said about this work; this music is simple. Eloquently simple in its expressionist form, this piece of art desires to imitate in a sound form and expand upon certain aspects of Norse Mythology that were used by Vikernes to provide the ideological backround of the work. The sacrifice of the thralls (solidarity and collectivitism in a naturalist society), Beldegir's death by the arrow of the blind Hadnur (the deception of the European people into fighting each other?) as well as other more sentimental themes, like the death of Wotan in the Wigridr plain and the mother's lament for the death of her fair son. Whatever opinions one may have on the ideology Vikernes stands for, his character or actions, his dedication into transforming it into art is unmatched.

Understanding this album requires first to acknowledge the conditions on which it was recorded. A synthesizer along with a computer program for mixing do not constitute what we could refer to as a high end studio. So, the simplicity that characterises the album should not have been just a matter of artistical approach, but also a necessity. The eight tracks are consisted of a similar pattern in their developement, that of a main theme that is performed some times throughout the whole song, and the other phrases that are elaborated upon and bring it to completion. If we have to use modern terms to define the general structure, minimalism is closer to this work than every other genre of modern music. However the impact, on the other hand, modern electronic music like Kraftwerk, Vangelis, Tangerine Dream has had on Vikernes, the soul of his art lies into the romanticist perspective of art and the field of traditional ("folk") music. The dancing, almost Dionysiac (if I may be allowed) rhythm of the forth song, Die Liebe Nerpus stands as a perfect example.

The opening track, however, Tuistos Herz is the most reminiscent of the typical atmospheric ambient-leaning sound. A piercing pan's flute is sounding along with an low pitched ambient pad in a most simplistic but dark theme, while an eerie loop of a strange echoed wind instrument that resembles a primitive prayer comes and goes. Soon another flute will come to comment and elaborate on the main theme. The song ends in a dissection of its elements, for the second track to transport us to the plain of Wigridr and to Ragnarok, where Wotan dies a glorious death. This haunting track begins with a mighty, desperate tune accompanied by the sound of war drums, to lead into one of the most beautiful melodies heard ever. Death is not the ultimate end, the death of the Gods signals a new age for the human race, an age in which they will prosper after learning the valuable lessons the Gods have taught them, an age in which they will be Gods themselves. This is the core of the Indo European religions, and this is underlined by this glorious epitaph, thus making it one of the most important Burzum songs ever.

The, what I would call the first section of the album, ends with the third song, Ansuzgardarainwo, a monotonous, noisy, nihilistic melody that depicts Wotan's fearsome pack. The songs that follow show maybe for the first time a sensitive, fragile side of Burzum. Vikernes moves away from Gods and battles to present the life of everyday folk, the customs and the rituals that take place, the mourning of the women away from the battlefield, the tragedy of a man having killed his own brother. In this section Varg chooses mostly pianos and vibraphones to reflect the earthly substance of the people he is dealing with. It is the most simple but maybe the most poetic part of the Burzum discography, especially in Freya's two mourning tracks (one for her son, one for "what once was"). The folkish, either monophic or polyphonic themes have a specific place and function; they are well developed and not originating from a random improvisation. After another trip from Ragnarok and Tiw's loss of his hand from Fenris, in another song whose striking monotony refers to the infamous 25 min Filosofem opus, the epilogue is written with a theme that is borrowed from the first Burzum album. The crying demon, Hadnur, or the Crying Orc.

It should be evident to this point that this work is unique but also very unlike to the vast majority of the aesthetic that is dominant in metal, not only in its classic form but in the supposed "expirimenting" field. Clearly it signifies the transision to another form of musical and ideological outlook, which makes it difficult to be accepted from people that have not followed Burzum during their course. Ofcourse, it is evident that the album could have been worked more (though the fact in just exists is almost a miracle) as also that its minimalism will turn away listeners that desire complexity over feeling. In any way, Hlidsjkalf is a glorious end; the beggining of the era it marks we are facing already.

Astounding. - 97%

TheBigDizzle, July 28th, 2004

Varg finished off Burzum nicely with this last release. He takes you on a wave of surrealism, from start to finish, never letting you go. For just using a keyboard, Varg gets a nice effect and manages to have many different tracks that don't sound the same.

All of the tracks are very good on this album, the stand out for me though, would be 'Der Tod Wuotans'. This track has such a beautiful sound to it, it's very simple, but just using a keyboard, it seems to convey so much emotion, it's sad sounding, but calming and is simply great music to have in the backround or to be actually listening to. What makes the track even more amazing is that it comes from the man who used to make some of the most extreme and best black metal there was, so it is a very interesting, and musically enjoyable change of pace.

Like I said before, the rest of the tracks are all very good, they can all have different tempos and never drag on too long, if anything, they are not long enough.

The Production on the album is crystal clear, you can hear everything about the keyboard perfectly, If not told it was recorded in a prison, you may never know.

In Conclusion, this is an absolutely amazing album which both Burzum fans and non Burzum fans could enjoy, it's not too soft or too hard, it just finds the right balance to make it one hell of a finish for Burzum

the most brilliant album i have ever heard - 100%

Shadow0fDeath, June 22nd, 2004

As we all know by now this is Varg's very last album. Having come off albums like Det Som Et Gang Var and Filosofem obviously people saw a huge difference in the music when Daudi Balders rolled along, but that was only the beginning. The second ambiant piece known as "Hildskjalf" was later released and proved to leave you breathless. I have listened to this album many times. I advise you to listen to and understand it. It's not an album to blast in your car down the higway. One of my favorite things is to sit in my room and play it in pure darkness, after midnight. Hell i don't ever recall playing this album before night.

Enough chit chat let's see why this album is brilliance. Let's begin with the stunning melodies. Very epic and thrilling with each time you play this album(for me it's at least 3 times a week.) with music that reaches out to you and pulls you into deep within it's grasp and suffocates you from every breath as you're caught in the true power and emotion of it all.

Tuistos Herz despite what everyone says about it is a very good beginning song. I don't see why it's not. The pace isn't like the later songs when you got into it. I doesn't drive full anger and force like Ansuzgaedaraiwo does, but i'll get into that song later. The synthesizers on this song are very stunning. Sure i know people have already said it's repetitive like every song on this album is at one point or another. Usually the intro is throughout the song as extra stuff comes in play every bit. This will leave everything coming at full force and each song will take your breath away like that.

Der Tod Wuotans is more intense. With the majestic intro that sounds like a middle ages or pagan type theme but more powerful then the other pagan piece Die Liebe Nerpus. By the middle of the song the intro is engulfed by a very melodic type sound that relaxes the song and would allow you to meditate or something as each sound flows like water through your vains. After the two or three minutes that occurs you will see that feeling die down and merge with the majestic intro to make the songs finally one of my personal favorites of the album

Ansuzgadaraiwo is probably the angriest piece on this album known as "Hildskjalf". It starts out semi calm. Continuing from Tuistos Herz...but pulse into a very angry synthesizer that as well sounds very haunting, especially in the dark. It will make you stand on end

Die Liebe Nerpus' goes back to the other theme with the whole pagan experience there. As we all know Varg is really into the whole pagan thing so this melody was probably inspired by Pagan folk music. I don't know this 100% for the folk part because i have never heard the pagan folk music. But i can tell it has a folkish theme to it and know for a fact it's a pagan type thing.

Frijos Einsames Trauern is a more calm and melodic song of the album. With a very high piched piano type this for a while. Until it gets into a mallets and more bass sounding piano. As a pianist myself i really enjoy this song and the tranquil energy that flows from each key.

Einfuhlungsvermogen is another one of those songs with a lot of synth thrown into them at the beginning. Maybe like a finally piece for the synth trilogy. I'm not totally sure but like every other masterpiece crammed onto this this piece is no different and is epic and memorable with every part. A more symphonic feel to it near the middle of the song. Which goes on for quite a while until the end where the synth calms down and becomes more peaceful.

Frijos Goldene Tranen is a great. Sounds like a meditative tape i've heard, though it's extremely stunning. I don't know how Varg can capture such naturous sounds with this final piece and present them in such a fucking powerful way. With another peaceful ending to finalize each epical song.

Der Weinende Hadnur is too short for my liking. Though it's very melodic to end the album without some raging angry song. It'll end you with the album in pure awe for quite a while and make you wish you could play it again.

Overall this album is one of the most brilliant albums in history of metal....though it's an ambiant album Burzum is still notorious for black metal. With each powerful and stunning theme covering the album you can tell it's very Atmospheric and emotional. When listening to it in the dark close you eyes and it'll give you some amazing visuals while each pulse inside of you becomes one with the musical journey Varg has put you upon. A fucking masterpiece in the music world that i wish everyone had the power to understand. I have listened to it many times yet i still lack many keys to the doors that make this album more brilliant then i believe it really is. Hail Varg for the creation of this masterpiece.

Wow...just...wow - 90%

stickyshooZ, June 18th, 2004

Well, this certainly isn’t a bad way for Varg to end his twelve-year relationship with his Burzum project. From the start of his career, he made love to the music in a more aggressive manner with raw and dominating black metal. Comparing the start of his career to the time set of this album, Varg has slowed down and decided to nurture the music in a less impressionable manner and in more of an abstruse sense, rather than go to war with it in an enterprising and militant battery. For starters, the production is completely serene unlike all of his other releases. Although there are only keyboards at work, it’s not as scruffy and sloven sounding as Daudi Baldrs.

Although the melodies are somewhat repetitive and show minimalism, they are very captivating and sometimes soporific. However, just because some tracks may induce the will to play this before sleep, don’t think that this album is subdued into the realm of firmness and stability. Some tracks are very dark in atmosphere with some creepy effects and sounds (Tuistos Herz and Ansuzgardaraiwo are good examples of the dismal and swarthy sound I’m referring to). It’s quite obvious that this wasn’t an album that was made from skill, per say...but rather it was made from pure, raw, and uncontaminated emotion which had probably been dwelling in Varg for some time. It’s impossible to lend your ears a brief listen to this album to be able to fully appreciate it; you have to sit and really listen to catch the twists, turns, and complexities.

This is the kind of ambient material suitable for a dark and rainy day, for when you can light a candle in the dark and brood until you lose yourself in the passion and intensity. If you’re looking for some super, awe-filled piano shredding ambience, you shouldn’t expect it from this. This is more or less for the cognitive musician who is able to think abstractly and not shit himself over how grim or necro something is. If you can appreciate ambience and true passion, then this should be right up your alley.

Moved me to tears... - 85%

golgotha85, April 6th, 2004

The (supposedly) final Burzum album and the 2nd album by the "new" Burzum (which, as you already know by now, consists of Varg Vikernes sitting in prison with a synthesizer). I won't waste your time talking about the circumstances around the album or the philosophy of the man behind the music, but I will say that Hlidskjalf is a surprisingly emotional and moving album. A vast improvement over Daudi Baldrs, which often sounded flat and almost MIDI-like. Then again, it probably was MIDI. Hlidskjalf has a very spacey, almost disconnected sound to it. It's hard to explain, but the music is both ambient and melodic.

You may find it hard to believe that music created by one man in a prison cell could truly be moving, but just disregard all of the drama and images conjured up in your head of a bearded Varg twiddling away on his keyboard and listen to the music. Don't just hear the music, but truly listen! This is the perfect music to drift to sleep listening to, or to enhance moments of intoxication (you know what I mean).

Seemingly minimalistic (listen closely and you'll catch the complexities) and definitely hypnotic, Hlidskjalf is the ideal companion for an evening of solitude. Just keep the lights on or hide under your covers, as this stuff can actually be downright scary at times. Those who have heard the album understand what I mean.

Every song on the album is a highlight, and in fact, I wouldn't suggest listening to individual songs as much as finding a place to relax and listening to the album straight-through start to finish, uninterrupted. If you absolutely need to sample individual songs from the album, I'd recommend listening to the 1st and 3rd tracks successively (which I won't bother trying to name here, since my Norwegian isn't exactly fluent).

The last track, which is a re-make of the song "The Crying Orc" from the first Burzum full-length, actually moved me to tears first time I listened to it. The original song was an interesting listen, but not really anything special. The re-make on Hlidskjalf is absolutely spell-binding in its raw emotion (as raw as a song recorded completely digitally can be). I think it was also the realization that this would be the last new Burzum I'd ever hear that helped move me to tears though. Oh Varg, how we'll miss thee!

My only complaint (and the only reason I didn't rate this album something closer to 100) is the absence of Varg's signature vocal work. I realize it'd be difficult to record such nut-crunching screams from within a cell, but damned if that doesn't stop me from lamenting over the lack of tortured screams.

My personal biases aside, listen to the album, give it a chance and get rid of your misconceptions. Stop worrying about whether or not Burzum is "tr00" anymore or whether or not Varg is the head of some secret National-Socialist front and relax.