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Review: Burzum - Belus

Label: Byelobog Productions
Year released: 2010
Duration: 50:30
Tracks: 8
Genre: Black Metal

Rating: 3.5/5

Review online: March 16, 2010
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
Readers Rating

Rated 3.51/5 (70.13%) (79 Votes)

Well, what to say about this? Varg has been in jail for fifteen years, and his last few ambient albums proved divisive at best (I thought they were self-indulgent nonsense). So I am not the only one to approach this album with extreme caution. I don't want to discuss what I, personally, think of Varg or his philosophies, I just want to review this album. Originally to be called The White God it finally sees release under the name of the Celtic solar deity Belus.

Those familiar with Varg's older works under the Burzum name will not be surprised, as this is very much in the same vein. This is firmly in the tradition of what has come to be called "Pagan Metal" – a genre Varg undoubtedly helped create and which has matured while he was away. The drums are extremely muted on this recording, with the guitar melodies taking center stage. Some of the songs – "Belus' Død", "Glemselens Elv", and "Morgenrøde" are sweeping epics with tension and build created with powerful, folk-driven riffs. Other tunes, like "Kaimadalthas' Nedstigning" are too repetitive and become actively irritating with their lack of progression. Vocals are low in the mix, mostly harsh but with some unremarkable clean vocals as well. Overall the other sounds must take second fiddle to the guitars, which drive and sustain this album.

I don't dislike this album, but it really is just not as good as Varg's fans would like it to be. This is clearly meant to be a magisterial return from one of Black Metal's long-gone masters, and it does produce some good songs and melodies, creating a definite atmosphere; but there is just not enough interest to sustain me through all 50 minutes of this. Varg proves he still has what it takes, and this is a better comeback than I ever expected. But Burzum have always been overrated, and no Burzum album has ever lived up to the hype. It seems that hasn't changed either.

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