Thursday, August 02, 2007

Black Throne

Burzum – Det Som Engang Var

There's not a lot to say about Burzum's second album that I haven't already said about their first and third. Sludgy guitars knocking out diminished fifth happy riffs and drums that sound like they were recorded in a goblin filled cavern provide the backdrop for screechy lead guitars reciting slowed down, cheesy Scandanavian metal melodies and Varg's ghastly (and I mean that in a positive way) gurgles and growls.

It's worth noting again that the production is excellent. Black metal is supposed to be stripped down and raw, almost to the point of indecipherability, but unlike many bands who slip right past that point of good taste Varg knows just how grungy to make it sound without compromising the melody and rhythm of the music for the sake of texture. It's even more impressive that (he claims) he recorded it himself in less than a day.

It is a cool aesthetic and when Varg finds a good riff or interesting song idea to hang it on it works really well, but less than half the tracks out of this album's eight songs fulfil this promise. One of my favourites is the opening track 'Den Onde Krysten' ('The Evil Shores') which is a nice scrapey, droney ambient industrial track which is a good fit to the work of Coil or Jordan Reyne (in fact, I'm sure I've heard the backing synth line sampled on an industrial album somewhere...). It's a pity he doesn't do more of this kind of thing because in my opinion he's much better at it than straight up black metal.

I also quite like 'En Ring Til Aa Herske' ('One Ring To Rule'), which combines the usual black metal conventions with a sorrowful backing chant as a nice counterpoint to Varg's usual howling. This song's title is far from the only embarassing fantasy reference to be found here. According to Wikipedia Det Som Engang Var's cover was inspired by the old Dungeons and Dragons module The Temple of Elemental Evil. NEEEEEEEEEEEEEERD!

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