Saturday, October 06, 2007

In Every Night There Is A Different Black

Burzum - Filosofem

is Burzum's most highly regarded album, and it also happens to be the first Burzum album that I've genuinely enjoyed.

It's not actually much different from his earlier albums. Varg is the king of trve black metal and this is one of the albums that define the genre. The production on every instrument is tuned to produce the ghastliest sound possible; the guitars are a wall of lo-fi distortion that borders on static, only just coherent enough to give definition to the tritone heavy leads that propel the music. Varg's vocals are, as usual, whispered in an unholy gurgle. You don't need the Norwegian legal system to tell you that this guy's fucking crazy. Insane drumming is perhaps one of the only defining characteristics of black metal that Burzum does not usually feature but on 'Jesus' Tod' (track two on this album), Varg records some of the most impressive drums to be found in Burzum's discography. It merely consists of a single simple figure repeated throughout the song, but it's a fucking mean one and it's full of driving energy.

The low point of the album is the obligatory ambient track 'Tour Around the Transcendental Pillar of Singularity', which is just as wanky as the title leads one to expect. It's actually a decent song, but runs for twenty five long minutes with little development to justify such a long running time. I'm sure it's intended to be meditative, but I don't listen to black metal to achieve inner peace.

None of this is at all dissimilar to any of Burzum's three earlier releases. The reason that I find this one so much more engaging than the others is probably because of it's cohesive and well expressed sense of mood. The cover art sets the tone, a woman blows a traditional fluted instrument against the backdrop of a lonely Scandinavian forest, and the music paints a complementary picture. It's hard to explain but despite the evil tone of the music (and the evil person who made it) Filosofem evokes not so much imagery of violence but more the beauty and mystery of the natural and supernatural worlds. It may have been made with the latest in heavy metal production technology but this album feels like it is invoking something very old.

Such a feeling can be appreciated as a unique insight into the mind of a very disturbing person, but if you can divorce your understanding of the music from the person who made it, Filosofem's weird beauty stands pretty well on it's own.

No comments: