Monday, November 28, 2011

BURZUM - From the Depths of Darkness CD compilation review

BURZUM - From the Depths of Darkness CD compilation
Byelobog Productions
Genre: Black Metal
Rating: 5/5

Seeing that Varg Vikernes has no love what so ever for the modern black metal scene, especially in Norway, it makes perfect sense to see him re-record his past works. This way he can bring people who actually like black metal back into the fold of it's original intent. Also maybe this updated release will appeal to hipsters retards who say they like his music but really just like wearing BURZUM t-shirts to look cool. Although I wasn't too impressed with his earlier release this year Fallen, his second since being released from prison, this compilation is a welcome sight. From The Depths Of Darkness consists of re-recorded tracks from his first two full length albums Burzum and Det Som Engang Var as well as new ambient pieces as introductions. According to the promo info the cuts on here are Varg's favorites from those two releases. He re-recorded them while at the same time was working on Fallen back in 2010.

When it comes to BURZUM fans (real ones and not phony hipster ilk) there's three camps of thought about his best recorded material. A lot of hardcore types cite the original first two full lengths to be his best because of their raw ugly sound. The second group (which I'm part of) looks to his third and fourth full lengths, Hvis Lyset Tar Oss and Filosofem, as his best works because of their some what cleaner sound and pagan direction. Obviously the third bunch considers everything to be excellent even the prison keyboard releases. From The Depths Of Darkness has me looking at those first two releases in a better light now. First and foremost the enhanced production on here makes a complete difference and brings out the true beauty in these compositions. The original versions certainly had some great effect to them as far as being harsh yet true examples of Norwegian Black Metal at it's most primordial beginnings. Unfortunately after many years of listening to them they seem lacking because of the deliberately, according to Varg, poor recording quality. I think now my respect for Vikernes, the artist, has risen a hundred fold because of this.

To those of you out there clutching your original copies of Burzum and Det Som Engang Var (that's the people who did not buy them on Ebay in the last ten years) thinking this is some sort of sacrilege on Varg's part, do not worry. The overall atmosphere and intensity of the music is still there. For example "Feeble Screams from Forests Unknown" actually jumps out at you sonically as opposed to being covered in an atmosphere of murk. It's still a raw intense song but now leaves you in awe as opposed to drifting in mist. While the opening segment of "Key to the Gate" is still at it's thrashing best the second part, which is more hypnotic and dark, now draws out it's epic beauty. One thing that I've always stressed is that there's a side to Black Metal which is beautiful as long as it's kept in it's natural uncomplicated state. Years ago Vikernes made that evident and others followed suit. Unfortunately as with many modern progressive types we've seen that beauty recreated in a plasticised state. It's the difference between something handmade with the passion of a craftsman and a piece of crap you find at a big box store.

Don't misunderstand me here, I'm not saying all new music is crap. What I am saying is that most scribes in the music media are full of crap because they don't know any better. Anyone out there who thought Varg's last two releases Belus and Fallen were masterpieces compared to his earlier works, based on production standards alone, will be eating their words. Then again you shouldn't be listening to those cranks anyway. Those last two releases simply showed that the Count was back and still creating good music. This one here shows that he's also a force in extreme music to be reckoned with. Whether you like Varg Vikernes or loathe him (the opinion of hipsters who just wear BURZUM shirts doesn't count) the mere fact that he can now reboot his past works into today's modern mess without loosing the slightest of edges is equal to a renaissance. There have been plenty of other one man black metal acts, sometimes too many, who have used BURZUM as an influence which they enhanced upon. From the Depths of Darkness shows that most of them (the avant garde lurkers) now might be seeking new avenues to pilfer.



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