Saturday, March 31, 2012

Burzum : " Umskiptar"

Varg Vickernes is back.the man the myth the legend, Americans built in their minds as a black metal Charles Manson. This album is devoid of any sensationalism, the fresh out of prison novelty has worn of and the elder statesman of Norwegian black metal is now making music for the sake of making music. This album is a companion piece of sorts to a book Varg wrote called Sorcery and Religion, an exploration into Norse folk lore and mythology . The lyrics taken from the poem Völuspá are once again sung in Varg's native tongue.
Umskiptar means metamorphosis, a fitting title because it steps further way from black metal or what we traditionally think of as Norwegian black metal. This is going to be a sticking point for fans of pre-incarceration Burzum and for those who thought "Fallen" wasn't kvlt enough. If you have read or watched interview where he is allowed to actually talk about music this should not come as a surprise, in numerous interviews he compared "Fallen" to classical music. Bookend by two pieces of minimalist ritualistic ambiance, there is really only nine songs here.
The first real song "Joln" ...or deities, is classic post-incarceration Burzum, the guitar is both abrasive and droning. The vocals have a very ritualistic feel, a heavily reverbed mike makes them sound like an invocation, which given the lyrical content is fitting, harsh vocals space these chants out, there is a weird clicking in the middle section where the drums drop out . Suppose a click track of sorts, I put my head to the speaker to see if my ears were playing tricks on me. There are alot of subtle sounds on this record and best listened on headphone. A far cry in the production from when Varg asked for the shittiest microphone they had.
"Alfadanz" the elf dance follows, after a piano intro launches in to pretty straight forward mid-paced metal riffage,accompanied by more chanting, which is a theme of the album as , the "clean" vocals here are less sung and more recited in almost a conversational tone. While I like this song, it trudges in pace more than what you would expect from Burzum and reminds me for some reason of Carpathian Forest.
On "Hit Helga Tre" or the sacred tree... the plodding thunder continues, this time in a more compelling manner as it's layered with tremolo picked guitar.
"Aera" or honor, brings harsher vocals back to the table, the angry thrash guitar is still pretty straight forward and more blatant than what I from Varg these days.
"Heair" or esteem...brings to mind the breakdown section in "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" the this is not your father's Burzum continues on "Valgaldr" this might be Var's prog song as it goes from a waltz to almost a depressive black metal feel as it descends into a more solemn dirge.The doomish depression continues on "Galgviar". This songs comes close to being a ballad, I like the guitar melody but very different from what I think of Burzum .Varg's baritone lament is more more emotive than his vocals on "Fallen" . The slow dissonant guitar creep along making it a song i don't see making the transition over to my Ipod. To be the albums longest track "Gullaldr" never really builds into anything, the guitar has too much space to make the song flow.
I'm on board for 7 of the 9 nine pieces I consider songs,though the album is growing on me, I don't think I will latch onto it as I did with "Fallen". Take into consideration I'm a pretty big Burzum fan , who is down with the maturation of post-pokey Varg when I give the album a 7 out of 10
and yes this the beginning of my my scoring since I get requests for that sort of thing

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