Thursday, February 25, 2010

Burzum - Belus (2010)

| Atmospheric Black Metal | Black Metal |

Burzum is the one-man project of Varg Vikernes (born Christian Vikernes, aka Count Grishnackh), perhaps the most notorious figure in Norwegian black metal. Although Burzum has an unpredictably experimental bent -- encompassing black metal, industrial, electronic, and dark ambient music -- Vikernes will forever be associated with his conviction for the 1993 murder of former Mayhem bandmate Euronymous. It wasn't the first time Vikernes had run afoul of the law; he had been a suspect in arsons directed at historic Norwegian churches in Bergen, a perception not helped by his use of a post-fire photograph of the Fantoft Kirke church on the cover of Burzum's 1993 Aske EP. Burzum played a vital role, along with other Norwegian black metal bands such as Mayhem, Darkthrone, Emperor and Immortal, in the development of black metal as a musical genre and ideology.

Belus is the returning of Burzum to the Black Metal, after two Dark-Ambient albums and a 11-years hiatus. Musically, the album continues from where Filosofem, his last black metal album, left off. It's a mix of straight black and awesome atmospheric black metal, and still that's what I've found mostly disappointing in it. I expected some cool dark-ambient stuff like on Det Som Engang Var, but apart from the short intro, there isn't a single climatic song in it. In spite of that, Belus is mostly a pleasing album for Burzum's standards. The album production is much cleaner (still pretty harsh, though) and the songs display the musical maturation of Varg. That's exactly the word, Belus sounds mature. The guitar is musically more consistent and complex - when comparing to Varg's earlier stuff -, the drumming is more powerful, but still straightforward and rhythmically simple as always, and the bass lines are a lot more elaborated (specially on Morgenrøde, that bass is killer!). Overall, the album is full of great tracks (highlights for Glemselens Elv, Belus' Død, Morgenrøde and Keliohesten) and is really excellent, but the lack of Dark-Ambient still makes me feel like there's a piece missing in here. Also, I've read some comments about Belus sounding like a standard Black Metal album, but for me, it sounds pretty unique as the rest of Burzum's discography. It has, yes, a kind of regular BM album structure, but it still has that special "Varg's touch" in each song of it.

Catalog: BYE001CD (Byelobog)
Download (211-192kbps)

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