BURZUM — Burzum

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BURZUM - Burzum cover
3.67 | 26 ratings | 2 reviews
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Album · 1992

Filed under Black Metal


1. Feeble Screams From Forests Unknown (7:28)
2. Ea, Lord of the Depths (4:52)
3. Spell of Destruction (5:39)
4. Channelling the Power of Souls Into a New God (3:27)
5. War (2:30)
6. The Crying Orc (0:57)
7. A Lost Forgotten Sad Spirit (9:10)
8. My Journey to the Stars (8:10)
9. Dungeons of Darkness (4:50)

Total Time: 47:06


- Varg Vikernes / Vocals, All Instruments

Guest/session Musicians:

- Øystein Aarseth / Guitar Solo (#5), Gong (#9)

About this release

Released on Deathlike Silence Productions

Thanks to The Angry Scotsman, adg211288 for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

Whilst Darkthrone's A Blaze In the Northern Sky set the standard for the image "kvlt" black metal bands would try to emulate, Burzum's debut album set the stage for another phenomenon of black metal - the one-man multi-instrumentalist project. Tubular bells this ain't, of course - what you've got is Varg Vikernes delivering howling buzzsaw guitar riffs and screaming, tortured vocals to a rhythm backing which ranges from pure black metal to something verging on black metal rock and roll at points.

Lyrically, magic, mystery and misery are the order of the day - Varg's kooky politics don't get a look in aside from a glancing reference to race war towards the conclusion of My Journey To the Stars. In fact, the most sensational aspect of the album is probably the brief guest appearances by Euronymous, providing an ironic and macabre touch to an album already rendered uncomfortable (in a good way) by Varg's extremely depressive approach to black metal. Unsettling to the extreme, Varg likes to brag that the early Burzum albums were used by Euronymous as a benchmark of just how evil black metal ought to be. If that's true, it's not hard to see why.
This self-titled debut from Burzum is typically overshadowed by some of Varg's later classics like Hvis Lyset Tar Oss and Filosofem, but in reality this is a fairly solid entrance from one of black metal's most pivotal figures. Varg Vikernes and his one-man-band established their unique style on this debut, although it's much more rough around the edges and underdeveloped than what newer fans may expect. Whereas many later Burzum albums have an extensive influence from dark ambient that would later pave the way for depressive black metal, this humble debut is much more of a raw, unpolished, and basic representation of early nineties' black metal. It's clear that Vikernes had not yet entirely gotten a knack for the haunting and mystical songwriting that characterizes his later releases, and while this is still a pretty original album by 1992's standards, it stands inferior to what Burzum is capable of, as well as what black metal at large is capable of. It's a somewhat original and, in many regards, classic debut, but it's not one that I'll listen to all too often.

While this is a bit different from later Burzum albums, you still have a large amount of the mid-tempo and depressing riffs that made Burzum stand out from many other black metal acts. They're a lot more sparingly used, though, and the dark ambient influences here are kept to a few fairly brief synthesizer or sound effect interludes. A few other unexpected influences creep in, though, and the straight up thrash tune “War” surprised me a great deal the first time I heard it. While most of this album is certainly competent, and often times even above average, it simply lacks the torturous and helplessly bleak atmosphere that I look for when putting on a Burzum album.

So even though Burzum is a somewhat original album in terms of black metal in 1992, it misses the mark when it comes to creating the bleak imagery I hope to experience when putting on such an album. The songwriting simply feels too inconsistent and gimmicky for my tastes, often failing to leave a lasting impression even though I do enjoy the album while it's on. A decent effort from Varg Vikernes, no doubt, but it's certainly not one of the first albums I'd recommend hearing from black metal's most notorious figure. I'd say a middle-of-the-road 3 stars are deserved for this very middle-of-the-road debut. Better things were to come.

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