Burzum is shroud in great controversy. Varg’s past is his past and his future, release after release, is looking promising. With Belus landing in my Top Ten Metal Albums of 2010, I was ecstatic when Fallen was announced a few weeks ago. Surely after a successful return to recording, Varg was back to creating classic black metal. While I wouldn’t classify Burzum’s current work as modern black metal, it does embody the same ideologies as even the earliest albums by the Norwegian scene.
Check out the rest of my review below.
“Jeg Faller” from Fallen
Varg describes Fallen as “a cross between Belus and something new, inspired more by the début album and Det Som Engang Var than by Hvis Lyset Tar Oss or Filosofem.” While I might not agree whole-heartedly with this statement, I can see how his intent followed suit while recording Fallen.
Det Som Engang Var‘s sound lacks any sort of melody whatsoever. It’s harsh, cold and very primitive. My experience with Burzum’s work has led me to believe that Filosofem was the first time when Varg really started to compose music, making not only sounds, but environments; something I reference in a lot of atmospheric music. Filosofem is visceral, Det Som Engang Var is not. But that doesn’t mean that Varg didn’t intend for Fallen to be atmospheric and experimental. He states that:
“The sound is more dynamic – we mastered the album as if it was classical music – and I was more experimental than I was on Belus in all respects. Lyricwise it is similar to the début album, in the way that it is more personal and focuses on existential issues, but the mythological untertone known from Belus is still there. I have also included some ambient tracks – a short introduction and a longer conclusion.”
This undertone is more of an overtone if you ask me. Even the cover-art, entitled “Élégie” (Eng. “Elegy”), by William Adolphe Bouguereau, brings about a new form of imagery for Burzum. Gone are the black gates and the cloaked woodsmen. Here we have an emotionally-binding image: an image that speaks about the nature of Fallen as a journey through pain and suffering.
“Fra Verdenstreet” or “From the World Tree” is the first track on the album and it only serves as an intro. if you were missing the fast-paced blast beats in Belus, Fallen has plenty. The track above is entitled “Jeg Faller” or “I Am Falling”. It is deep with emotion and beautiful at moments. With whispers echoing over the tremolo-picking, Varg has created an album’s intent with one track. This is Fallen. It is the identity of the album and in many ways shows a progression from Belus.
The next cut is “Valen” or “Fallen” and as you can see, the imagery continues. More pain and anguish. At over nine-minutes long, it’s akin the classic Burzum formula. The pace is slower than “Jeg Faller” and it plays as an epic ballad. Each track on Fallen has a name that reflects its sound. “Vanvidd” or “Madness” is a spiraling descent into a frantic world. More blast beats and tremolo picking sculpt a world of insanity and at seven minutes in length, can be a bit arduous to endure.
In what is probably my favorite Burzum intro since “Jesus’ Tod” is “Enhver til Sitt” or “Each Man To His Own”. If there is any track on Fallen that sounds like Filosofem, it’s this. The sound is eerie and even picks up influences from Sabbath-era metal. Slow riffs and digestible drums overlaid with raspy vocals. Varg continues to tell his story through “Budstikken” or “The Message”, a percussion-laden track with heavy riffage and a two-kick in place of the blast beat. This is the lumbering juggernaut of Fallen, at over ten minutes in length, it just kind of disappears in the background.
The only instrumental cut on Fallen is “Til Hel Og Tilbake Igjen” or “To Hell And Back Again”. There’s no way to really describe it other than a maddening dream with a calloused ending. Overall, Fallen is a great album. Out of all of Varg’s work, it has masterpiece status. While many other metal acts fall out of touch with themselves and their audience, Varg is just showing that Burzum is building great momentum. With Belus‘ sheltered and confined sound acting as the catalyst for Fallen, one can only imagine what Burzum has in store for us next.
Review: Burzum – Belus