The Music of Burzum and the
Writings of Varg Vikernes

Music

 

Burzum/Aske

1992
Misanthropy

Building on the idea of black metal as an offshoot of Bathory, and lacking any conceptual focus whatever, the first Burzum album thrusts raw organic songwriting upon the audience -- and then fades out into two epic tracks which expand upon ideas touched on earlier. Song structures evolve like species, with riffs responding to riffs, then cycling through what has come before. Some of the most distinctive melodies and riff shapes come from this early album, but its clear peak is "My Journey to the Stars," a through-composed, narrative Romantic epic which ends in a transcendent state of disbelief suspension. Like a William S. Burroughs novel, these songs twist and mutate as if they were cut up and reassembled to give them a sense of mystery and keep us on the edge of our chairs.

1. Feeble Screams from Forests Unknown (7:28)
2. Ea, Lord of the Depths (4:51)
3. Black Spell of Destruction (5:39)
4. Channeling the Power of Souls Into a New God (3:24)
5. War (2:27)
6. The Crying Orc (0:57)
7. My Journey to the Stars (8:10)
8. Dungeons of Darkness (4:50)
9. Stemmen fra taarnet (6:09)
10. Dominus Sathanas (3:03)
11. A Lost Forgotten Sad Spirit (10:50)
Length: 57:48
 

Det som engang var

1992
Misanthropy

Halfway to a concept album, Det som engang var tries to be a half-metal half-ambient adventure, concluding in the silence of death. Songs are more ambitious but more riff-based and verse-chorus like those of the later Filosofem. What redirects this album back away from pop is its primal black metal attack paired with an ancient sense of melody, as in the lead rhythm stitch that draws "Key to the Gate" to a close. The ambient tracks although early experimentations create a suspension of reality that is welcoming as these warlike, melancholy and feral songs drive us toward a righteous drive to fix all that is out of place in our souls.

1. Den onde kysten (2:20)
2. Key to the Gate (5:14)
3. En ring til aa herske (7:10)
4. Lost Wisdom (4:38)
5. Han som reiste (4:51)
6. Naar himmelen klarner (3:50)
7. Snu mikrokosmos tegn (9:36)
8. Svarte troner (2:16)
Length: 40:01
 

Hvis lyset tar oss

1993
Misanthropy

The first concept album from Burzum attempts to break riffs into pure ambience to create enduring moods, then counterpoint that atmosphere with melodic phrasal riffs in conclusion. The result suspends any sense we have of physical modern reality around us and then drops us into our imaginations, like a Discharge concert suddenly morphing into a Dead Can Dance tune. The album concludes in the deathlike but pleasant "Tomhet" and as such forms a complete experience, resolving the extremities of its opening 14-minute track and its new vision of black metal as a sheet of minor-key harmony in which notes drop in and out to produce an effect like Anton Bruckner's "sonic cathedral."

1. Det som en gang var (14:20)
2. Hvis lyset tar oss (8:04)
3. Inn i slottet fra droemmen (7:51)
4. Tomhet (14:12)
Length: 44:32
 

Filosofem

1995
Misanthropy

The frequent description of "Odinpop" does not do this album injustice but describes its approach. Three drastic and emotional but very basic pop songs in characteristic distortion and fuzz give Burzum a modern sound, like My Bloody Valentine performed by oskoreien, but the album spends the bulk of its time in two book-end ambient guitar noise pieces and the lengthy 25-minute instrumental that expresses its cosmic vision. As a result, Filosofem is like a portal between the worlds of noisy pop music and an eternal sense of meditative contemplation and suspense of animal fear.

1. Dunkelheit (7:03)
2. Jesus' Tod (8:38)
3. Erblicket die Töchter des Firmaments (7:51)
4. Gebrechlichkeit .I. (7:52)
5. Rundgang um die transzendentale
Säule der Singularität (25:08)
6. Gebrechlichkeit .II. (7:53)
Length: 64:36
 

Dauði Baldrs

1997
Misanthropy

Entirely produced with sequenced keyboards, the album originally called Balders død puts several older Burzum themes to good use in making a complete suspension of disbelief album. Like the Burzum albums to follow, this work takes us through a series of artfully-planned "scenes" telling a story in its physical, moral and spiritual dimensions. Although some criticize the rudimentary sequencing and few keyboard voices, the minimalism gives this a suspension-of-disbelief quality which lets the resonant nature of these melodies shine through.

1. Dauði Baldrs (8:49)
2. Hermoðr á Helferð (2:41)
3. Bálferð Baldrs (6:05)
4. Í heimr Heljar (2:02)
5. Illa tiðandi (10:29)
6. Móti Ragnarokum (9:05)
Length: 39:15
 

Hliðskjálf

1999
Misanthropy

Returning to the idea of a keyboard album with lush and detailed digital instrumentation, Burzum make an album worthy of Dead Can Dance by using the "sonic cathedral" effect from Hvis lyset tar oss, this time through harmonies that throng in the air like distant bells. Opening with a casually organic keyboard introduction reminiscent of the aria opening The Serpent's Egg from Dead Can Dance, the album walks us through insights on its story in songs that narrate the event with melodies that resemble its psychological impact, then loop them while adding and removing texture to give a sense of the presence of time. "Haunting" often describes this work.

1. Tuistos Herz (6:13)
2. Der Tod Wuotans (6:43)
3. Ansuzgardaraiwô (4:28)
4. Die Liebe Nerþus' (2:14)
5. Das einsame Trauern von Frijô (6:15)
6. Die Kraft des Mitgefühls (3:55)
7. Frijôs goldene Tränen (2:38)
8. Der weinende Hadnur (1:16)
Length: 33:42
 

Belus

2010
Byelobog

Deriving inspiration from Eastern European nationalistic black metal bands, Burzum returns after an 11-year absence with an album that jams collected unreleased works together and caps them off with a droning, minimalistic epic piece that concludes the album. While some of this material clearly shows influence back to the speed metal and death metal days of a young musician, the title track borrows a melody from Dauði Baldrs and then crams it into a pop song structure like those found on Filosofem, but even more accessible. Other songs show more standardized and simplified technique, making this the most accessible Burzum album ever.

1. Leukes renkespill (Introduksjon) (0:32)
2. Belus' død (6:12)
3. Glemselens elv (11:36)
4. Kaimadalthas' nedstigning (6:31)
5. Sverddans (2:23)
6. Keliohesten (5:35)
7. Morgenrøde (8:38)
8. Belus' tilbakekomst (Konklusjon) (9:10)
Length: 50:38