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Monday, April 2, 2012

Burzum - Umskiptar review

Year : 2012
Genre : Black Metal with a tame character
Label : Byelobog
Origin : Norway
Rating : 8.5 / 10

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Varg Vikernes' Burzum project once again emerges to declare, and the music has changed in temper, but, not in style. If you have listened to the Belus and/or the Fallen LP, then you are familiar with the overall tone this disc similarly submits to, but! Regardless of the tonal reminiscence, the Umskiptar LP - "umskiptar" means "metamorphoses" in ancient Norwegian lingo - is definitely much more peaceful and - logically enough - much less "fiercely disillusioned" (is that a proper term at all for Buzum, I'm not sure?) - than what you probably would anticipate from Mr. Vikernes based on his previous outing.

And you would be quite wrong, too : as just suggested, Burzum never was discontent OR afraid of the darkness, - "burzum" means "darkness" in the Tolkien lingo used in M(u)(o)rd(e)(o)r - it made peace with it a long-long time ago, and the music itself is a testament of that peace. The darkness indeed is a relentless and humorless teacher. Did you take advantage of the occasion and reassessed your reality during the last household-blackout in the complete darkness, or, did you hurry to make some emergency light? Varg Vikernes surely has a Grandmaster Degree in darkness science, so it is interesting to witness that now he showcases the tamer side of the - uhm - anti-spectrum. Guys, let's talk about the music.

Weighing in at 64 minutes, Umskiptar is a relentless mind- and moodhack at its eloquent full value, and you don't particularly need to assume that the flow of things must be a tolling one to glide through with such a length. This is not the case at all, not with the shape of music on display. The general rule set of the Burzum music universe did not change : Varg invents a riff-combo at will, entertains it until both you and him know a thing or two out of the sum total of things that are worth knowing about the combined sonic entity, and he narrates beside the riff in an intentionally rhythmic fashion in order to contribute to the vocal aspect to the respective builds. Pretty much everything is mid-tempo this time, swifter rhythmic patterns are not to be found on the horizon around you, and blast beats are not even a part of THIS particular Burzum galaxy. Which is undoubtedly Burzum, nevertheless. Let's see why.

The riff combinations are still super-persistent at tolling the ultimate terrorist : time, and they are efficient, not just because of the way the notes are played, but because of the order the thought sweeps through them by. What I like about them especially is the fact that you can recognize them in wildspace from 234234 nautical miles. LOOK! A Burzum riff! Heavily distorted-, nevertheless tender guitar constructs with beauty and a thrilling secret-factor incorporated into them, and each is offered for a time long enough to hop on top of them comfily, and you can always be sure that they will take you to another place in a sober fashion. Abrupt changes are nowhere to be found, thank Varg, Darkness, God & Co.

I still claim though that the disc is more peaceful than the previous Burzum deliveries I am familiar with. Check out the intro section of "Alfadanz" - "elven dance" : - this is tale-music, the kind of riff I'd expect a Tolkienish Elf Bard to introduce his narrative stuff with. Oh man, I just got it! Maybe this is the reason for the title? The character of the music is still black metal, but this is not the kind of black in which decay is tinkering at its own leisure, it is more like a spaced-out visit to a mysterious forest, only, in a ghost form. In an astral form. Now is the time to see how much resentment you have. Thank you, come again!

The tamer emotional disposition is evident throughout the production values, too : the delivery, in my opinion, sounds pretty - with a strange word - realistic, with clearly audible bass and multi-layered guitars packed on each other PER channel without damaging their surrounding peers, yet still I would never call the data intimidating at all. It is tamer than I ever perceived Burzum to be so far. It intentionally chooses production-routes that yield a release of a ripped middleweight character, it does not want to go Dodecahedron on your hide. Not scary music at all. Granted, Varg delivers a decent scarecrow-howl from 0:55 to 1:09 in track 4, - one of the most intimidating tracks herein - but, other than that : the tone of the music on this spin is primordially peaceful along an exclusive mid-tempo register.

The riffs always show and exhibit legitimate ideas that are very easy to identify as heartfelt content : these riffs are not constructed in a way like Varg Vikernes sits around and comes up with a riff, I feel he already has an idea of what he wants to play. I dare say that the release contains no alibi-content, everything I hear on the Umskiptar LP is legit, yet there is one particular song that I think is of exceptional riffract and emotional quality. This is track number 9, called "Gullalrd" - "Golden Age" : - the ultra-deep riffing herein crushes stuff on spot in realtime, in the sense that it is sufficient to hear it once to know that it is something special. The introductory riff evolves into a nice harmonic backdrop during the chorus that proves to be suitable for some super-simplistic but efficient "haaaaaa-haaaaa" male chorus. I did catch "ragnarok" at 3:03. "OHM, ragnarok?"

The release is a ripe and complete delivery focusing on a narrative stance that borders on bonfire-related scary tale presentation.

Dark fantasy in which you can not die. Because you already had.

Rating : 8.5 / 10

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