Monday, January 21, 2008

Towards Ragnarok

Burzum – Dauði Baldrs

And with Dauði Baldrs we have finally made it through the entire Burzum catalogue to date. This record is the second to last that Varg released, and the first one he made in prison. The melodies are of the same stock as those from Burzum's older black metal albums but due to production concerns (the only instrument Varg is allowed in prison is a synthesiser) this album is entirely devoid of drums and guitars.

Dauði Baldrs is less ambient and minimal than it's successor Hliðskjálf; indeed the songs are straight up black metal performed sans vocals and with different instrumentation (one track is even melodically a straight up copy of an earlier black metal styled song), but I can't avoid making the same comparison as I did when I listened to the latter album - that this stuff sounds a hell of a lot like Coil. The chiming bells and spacey strings of 'Hermoðr Á Helferð' sound almost exactly like those on Coil's 'Titan Arch'. Burzum's interest in the occult is another similarity shared with those post industrial hedonists, and where the earlier black metal albums evoked the dark, gothic northern European wilderness, Dauði Baldrs has more of an abstract, mystical mood.

The songs suffer a little from the lack of vocals. Without them a standard black metal song is too simple and repetitive, and stripping away the distortion and feralness and replacing it with synth strings and horns only emphasises the fact that, for all his originality in developing the style of black metal, Varg's songs aren't actually that interesting in and of themselves.

It's been interesting to see how he influenced and in fact set a standard for the genre but other than Filosofem I don't think I'll be revisiting this music all that much. After all, even I feel a little bit uncomfortable listening to the work of a murderous neo-nazi.

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