BURZUM — Hvis Lyset Tar Oss (review)

BURZUM — Hvis Lyset Tar Oss album cover Album · 1994 · Atmospheric Black Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3/5 ·
In retrospect, it's lucky for Varg Vikernes that he had such an incredible burst of creativity in early 1992 - recording this album, the previous two Burzum albums, and the Aske EP in the space of about eight or nine months. If he hadn't produced such a large amount of quality material in such a short time, Burzum's pre-jail output would have been much sparser.

That said, this first Burzum album to be released during Varg's incarceration for the murder of Euronymous (but remember, it was recorded before all that grim business happened) is strong enough and shows enough musical growth to suggest that if Varg had just knuckled down and worked on his craft rather than murdering bandmates, burning churches, or rotting his mind with absurd far-right politics, he might have eventually produced something which makes his infamy-inflated level of name recognition actually justified. Hvis Lyset Tar Oss represents the culmination of all the musical experimentation of Burzum's previous output - three epic black metal drones of sheer unmitigated depression, plus a closing ambient piece which was easily the most polished of Varg's dark electronic experimentations to date.

Those who cannot abide racist lyrics will be pleased to know that there's no such rants here - Varg's shrieks are mainly about how miserable and angry he is at the world in general, without delving into the sort of NSBM-like Jew-baiting he tends to reserve for interviews - whilst the compositions and performance were more polished than on previous releases.

At points, the wailing, buzzing guitars put me in mind of the walls of sound produced by shoegaze bands of the era such as My Bloody Valentine, so there's a mild precedent for the current trend for combining black metal and shoegaze here - and indeed the album also provides precedents for more or less all of the "depressive" black metal out there, plus the sort of dark medievalist synthesiser experiments tinkered with by the likes of Mortiis.

Had Varg not done the things he'd done, if he didn't have the tendency to say the sort of repugnant things he has said (and, regularly, still says), he'd be one of the most beloved treasures of the metal scene. As it is, whilst I'd prefer to keep Varg the man at arm's length, I'd say Burzum the musical project is still an interesting release, but at the same time people have taken the seeds here and developed them further without the same baggage weighing things down.
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Doomster wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Absolutely amazing.
more than 2 years ago
One of the few (like 2) "traditional" black metal albums I truly enjoy.
J-Man wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Couldn't agree more - one of my favorites as well.


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