Saturday, March 13, 2010
burzum - belus (2010)
Let's just get the inconvenient fact that Varg Vikernes is not just a convicted murderer and arsonist, but perhaps as bad (or worse), an open and unrepentant racist, out of the way. Yes these things are true, and yes if you need to like or agree with the musicians you listen to you may want to avoid this. I've spent a lot of time trying to decide whether its "morally ok" to listen to this and other even more vehemently racist music without coming to a conclusion about how I feel about it. But as fellow SP&M writer RAWIII remarked to me after I spent hours discussing the moral conflict of listening to NSBM on a car trip from LA to SF, "Eh.... I'm tired of talking about Nazis." So ignoring all of the baggage that comes with this, how is the album? Actually... it's way, way better than I was expecting it to be. In fact it's easily one of the best black metal albums I've heard in awhile. While it lacks the atmospheric and haunting keyboard melodies that made Burzum one of the all-time greats in the genre, the guitar work is incredible and aggressive and creates an entirely different vibe from older Burzum work- unlike the meandering dirges of Filosofem, the songs on Belus sound focused and driven. It's still unmistakeably the product of the same artist, but going in a new direction. I hadn't heard anything good about the work Varg had produced since going to jail, and since this is his first album in eleven years, I wasn't expecting much- my expectations were definitely exceeded and then some.