• Burzum - Umskiptar (2012)

     

    I must admit that I have always hesitated to check out the music of Varg Vikernes and Burzum. I simply can’t ignore the fact that he is a criminal mind that has burnt several churches, murdered his ancient band mate and promoted strange racist opinions over the last decades. I don’t want to support this kind of human being in any financial, promotional or whatsoever way.

    On the other side, I heard so many comments about his music and became somewhat curious. It’s a well known fact that insanity and genius can be really close. I ultimately fought my inner demons and tried to be open minded enough to have an idea of this guy’s musical universe. I decided to listen to his new record “Umskiptar” after many reviews I have read about his last two regular studio records “Belus” and “Fallen” that he released when he got out of prison.

    Concerning this record I must admit that this is much ado about nothing at all. This is simply overlong atmospheric ambient music with somewhat intriguing poetical Norse lyrics. The artistic approach is authentic and works very well in the beginning of the record but it gets redundant after a while. The emotions are there but they are not deep enough from my point of view and are rather repetitive, too. Despite its title, there are no big metamorphoses or any kind of surprises on this record.

    From time to time, the sleepy flow is then interrupted by some short blackened metal passages that I would not call traditional black metal. To my big surprise, these moments are the most emotional ones on the album and kept me listening to this record to the end. The harder stuff like “Hit Helga Tré” or the refreshingly short “Æra” featuring disturbing vocals between floating and spiritual vibes and aggressive or desperate undertones as well as slow but heavy riffs with some disturbing sound is where Varg Vikernes convinces me the most.

    The strongest songs are definitely in the beginning with the airy, progressive and yet angry and dark “Jóln” and in the end of the record with the melancholic epic grower “Gullaldr” that invites you to dream yourself far away. These are the moments when I begin to understand why this controversial personality is also respected by some for his musical input. Even though the record has a very coherent flow and a clear guiding line, there are too many lengths in here that can’t compensate for the boring moments.

    If there would only be more quality tracks like this one on the album instead of pure chewy quantity, I would really feel the need to check out his older works after all these years. But overall, this is only an average record with very few sprinkles of genius that is hard to sit through after all. There is almost as much boredom as there is potential in this album but I think that it might grow on me as time goes by and it your listening experience also depends a lot on your personal mood, too. This record should have been released in autumn or winter time. Apart of the numerous Varg Vikernes fanboys, fans of blackened ambient stuff and pagan metal might like this but anybody else shouldn't follow the hype. In the end, sixty-six percent seem to fit perfectly to the lyrical topic, the music and the man behind this release.

     

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