Since his release from prison in May of 2009, Varg Vikernes has once again become a prolific black metal machine. Fallen, the second Burzum album released in the span of one year, shows the infamous Norwegian legend with a redefined sound and some great black metal to go along with it. This album shows a new side to Varg's genius as a composer - the extensive use of clean vocals and folk metal influences add a new dimension to Burzum that we've never seen before. Although this can't compete with masterpieces like Hvis Lyset Tar Oss (in my opinion), it's another essential chapter in the legend of Burzum. Anyone who wants to call themselves a black metal fan better make sure Fallen finds its way into their collection at some point.
Varg Vikernes is one of my favorite (if not my absolute favorite) black metal musicians, so expect a bit of bias in this review. Burzum was always about exploring previously unexplored territories, and Fallen continues in this fashion. Although this is firmly rooted in Norwegian black metal, expect more folk and progressive rock influences than we've ever heard in a Burzum album. The ambient influences that dominated Varg's releases prior to his incarceration are scarce, but it doesn't affect the quality for me. Fallen opens up with a brief intro before transitioning into my favorite track on the entire album - the masterful "Jeg Faller". Filled with irresistible riffs and excellent clean vocals from Varg Vikernes, this is undoubtedly a highlight on the album. The rest of the album continues in a similar direction (without ever sounding "samey"), before closing with the epic "Budstikken" and the avant-garde "Til Hel Og Tilbake Igjen".
Of course, the musicianship on Fallen is excellent. Varg Vikernes is a genius who has mastered many instruments, and that's extremely apparent here. The production is very raw, and took some time for me to get used to, but I now think it suits the music perfectly and sounds excellent.
Burzum has always been a legend in Norwegian black metal and, even 20 years after its formation, Varg is still cranking out top-notch black metal releases. I'd recommend all fans of old school black metal with plenty of variation to definitely take a look into Fallen. Although this can't compete with Burzum's mid-90's masterpieces, it's still a warm recommendation from me. I'll give Fallen an excellent 4 stars. Hail Burzum!