Burzum – Fallen
When I first heard Burzum, about three years back, I was a major LOTR nerd. Still am. So I wondered what a band would sound like if they name themselves in the fashion of the Black Tongue of Mordor and whatnot. Instead of satiating my appetite for some Tolkien Ensemble-esque music played in a darker vein, I was introduced to the “fun stuff” that is black metal, along with the likes of Mayhem, Emperor etc.
Varg has done some questionable things in his past(in spite of which I have friends saying “Are Varg is a nice guy re”), but recently has apparently embraced a private, low key profile. The setting for a Burzum album is always important from a reviewer’s perspective, since the albums have evolved with the man. Just as he has gone from being (at least to the outside world) a church burning, Euronymous stabbing young Turk to a quiet, bearded philosophizing man who continues to stand for what he (rightly or wrongly) believes in, the sound has similarly changed from being raw, aggressive unearthly black metal to more ambient, atmospheric, thoughtful and experimental. Which brings us to the musical aspects of this release.
Fallen has 7 tracks, all being living proofs of Varg’s ability to make original, quality black metal. The riffs are what kvlt bm people would call ‘cold’, and they do succeed in creating melodic, yet slightly sinister soundscapes. There are no real solos(something that has been missing in Burzum releases since quite some time, wonder when those are coming). But Varg isn’t really known for being a shredder. More of a minimalist when it comes to composing his material, it is the way everything is layered that defines his music. The bass comes through very well in transitions (Budstikken being an eargasmic example), but isn’t as prominent in the chorus sections, which is fine by me. The drums sound pretty good, and the overall raw production works extremely well. My ears are stoked. Except for the harsh vocals. I really long for the unearthly and tortuous vocals that made his first few albums unforgettable(in a good way). Then again, one wonders if they would really go well with this music, since this does lack the aggression the self-titled could openly boast of. In the short list of complaints, I’d also like to add the lyrics not being in English, which limits my ability to appreciate the songs adequately. For all I know he sings about going to the Norwegian equivalent of his local chaiwala and smoking a few cigarettes. Hopefully that shall be remedied by fans soon.
However, it is the spoken word, the clean singing parts which are so well harmonized with the guitar melodies that really make the album a winner. Though not as intricate as Drudkh, it’s definitely good enough to merit multiple listens and analyses. Add to that the sonic experimentation on the outro track ‘Til hel og tilbake igjen’. For such a quick follow up to Belus, Fallen is strikingly different in most aspects, and makes for an interesting listen. Unlike other bands (names which I shall not take to avoid unnecessary arguments over personal preferences) who were good back in their days but are using the same cliche formula to release junk out of their exhausted musical loins, Burzum re-asserts it’s fertility and youth by giving us another record to musically wank off to. In my books, this gets an 8.4/10. (Points off for the unnecessarily artsy artwork which I completely fail to appreciate, sorry. It’s Fallen, not Fallen Asleep.)
Tracks to watch out for : Valen, Vanvidd, Budstikken.