UG Team, on march 15, 2010 5 of 5 people found this review helpful
Sound: There are so many elephants in this room that slaying them all would be impractical; talk, talk and more talk about the return of Varg Vikernes has taken the metal community by force, but there is only one piece of contextual information that needs to be mentioned for this review. I was not around for the release of the last Burzum album, and neither were the vast majority of you, the readers. So let us not pretend to be omniscient experts on the man or his music; I sit and write with iTunes and Microsoft Word open, and you sit and read using your browser of choice. Let's get down to business.
Once the intro track (presumably Varg throwing rocks at prison walls and/or gypsy caravans) has come and gone, the ancient sound of his truest Norwegian black metal breaks through the millennial barrier triumphantly. The production on the album has clearly been attended to, if not polished, and since buzzsaw' sounds and suffocating mixes could never have the same mysterious effect that they did on Filosofem' or Hvis Lyset Tar Oss', this record instead benefits from clarity and a compelling synergy between guitars, bass and drums.
The natural hypnosis that comes attached to the tremolo picked school of black metal riffery is used to the full here, particularly on the ritualistic Keliohesten'. Chordal riffs are also a strength, draping the album in a cold, wet mist that not even the greatest imitators could replicate. Exempt from this, however, is Sverddans', a bloodless thrash metal track that sounds like the result of Varg learning Angel Of Death' from a dodgy tab. Luckily it is half the length of any other song on Belus', and therefore doesn't really detract from proceedings. // 8
Lyrics: As I found out on the English version of Burzum's website, we have American imperialism to thank for the lack of English translations for the lyrics of Belus', but it is no matter. In fact, we can be thankful for the lack of professional translation, as the ever-reliable Google Translate has informed me that the track Belus' Dd' includes such lines as Onions are added in the linen and magic verse trolleys! I'm sure that was the gist of it. // 7
Overall Impression: A lot of people will already have their minds made up about this one. Some will reject it based on morality, some will be humping a leaked version, and some maniacs had already dismissed it based on thirty second samples. I guess these are the sorts of things to expect when dealing with a man like Vikernes - one of the very few extreme metal musicians to hold celebrity' status - and indeed when dealing with this, the most anticipated extreme metal album of all time.
However, the appeal of the music is still there, and is still the chief reason why so many are drawn in. It is unlikely that Belus' will reach the hallowed halls of pre-Daui Baldrs'Burzum, but an altogether more refined performance (concerning the drums and vocals, in particular) and a handful of thoroughly excellent songs make it more than worth listening to, just in case curiosity hadn't already convinced you. // 8
Martyfan, on march 15, 2010 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: Belus, The White God. This is a conceptualized album that tells the story of The White God and the events encompassing his life, both musically and lyrically. Listening to this album I feel as if I am drawn into the realm of olden Scandinavia, it really is a musical journey and not for the musically shallow or intelligible listener.
Belus opens with an ambient introduction and quickly leads into the aggressive "Belus' Dd", which I feel is reminiscent of "Jesus' Tod" from the Filosofem album.
The sound of the album itself brings me back to the nineties with earlier Burzum releases, bearing the tremolo picked melodies and the almost haunting (yet beautiful) atmosphere. Though retaining the original Burzum sound; one could perhaps expect the addition of some new ideas. // 8
Lyrics: There is little to be said on my behalf concerning the lyrical content of Belus for I speak not in Norwegian. I do not believe you need understand the lyrics to appreciate the depth of Belus though. There is a clear link between Varg Vikernes' culture and heritage in using his mother tongue to convey the story as opposed to conforming to the norm of the English language.
Varg's vocal skills have clearly matured but are still raw, they are lacking melody for the most part but Belus would be like an incomplete puzzle without them. // 7
Overall Impression: As far as modern black metal is concerned, I don't believe Belus compares. Though as previously mentioned it does bear elements of previous Burzum releases.
One of the strongest tracks is "Sverddans" (Sword Dance). The music truly conveys the imagery of the title for me, as does the rest of the album. This song is perhaps close to a modern interpretation of War (From the Burzum debut). The absence of audible bass has always been a major concern for me when listening to black metal and listening to the track Glemselens Elv struck a chord with me upon hearing a clear bass line, while not necessarily a strong track, it still stands out.
Many would disagree, but the weakest track is "Kaimadalthas' Nedstigning", it is far too repetitive and the spoken passages feel almost 'cheesy'. The rhythm is often hard to follow also, which you may or may not like.
Overall though, Belus is a grand addition to any avid black metal fans' CD collection and I would definitely recommend it. // 9
fba217, on march 15, 2010 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: Varg Vikernes is a man that fans of metal either love or hate. Some find his music to be powerful, hypnotic and mesmerizing symphonies of sound, others see it as talentless noise created by a murderer and racist. But opinions aside, one thing is certain: Burzum's Belus is without a doubt, the most highly anticipated black metal release of 2010. It's the first "traditional" Burzum album released since Varg Vikerne's incarceration in 1994 and the first Burzum album released in over 10 years.
The biggest debate among fans is what direction the album will take musically. From the straight-forward riffing of "Det Som Engang Var" to the hypnotic drone of "Filosofem" and the symphonic keyboard orchestration of "Daui Baldrs" and "Hliskjlf", Burzum's discography is extremely varied. This album's sound is a combination of the mysterious drone of "Filosofem" and the more straight forward aspect of earlier albums.
Melodically, this is Burzum at its most accessible, not that its mainstream by any means. Its dark but but not necessarily "evil" sounding, more mysterious than anything. The production is raw like the older works but not as harsh, And Varg's signature shriek has gotten deeper with age. // 8
Lyrics: The lyrics to the album have been released in Norwegian, Russian, German and Italian. Rough translations of the lyrics suggest themes of nature, wilderness and spirituality, but as an English speaker, I am unable to fairly comment on the lyrics. However, on Burzum's website, Varg has explaind in depth, the nature and themes of the lyrics. The album is about the Nordic god Belus also known as Baldur. // 5
Overall Impression: As a Burzum album, Belus ranks up there with the rest of them. As a black metal album its just as good as any I've heard this year. Belus is a raw, melodic, hypnotic and at times epic. Clocking in at 12 minutes long "Glemselens elv" is the highlight of the album. I would recommend this album to all fans of black metal. Its one of the year's best! // 9