Burzum

Anthology

Candlelight Records 2008

A Bomb's Compiling an anthology for possibly the most infamous and certainly one of the most influential bands within the black metal genre is a daunting task.  How to pick the right songs from all the back catalogue of material is formidable to say the least.  Candlelight has done a fairly admirable job, hitting all the releases from Varg's notorious one man embodiment of musical misanthropy.  The are two misses here in my eyes, and that is the opener which is the first track off the debut, Feeble Screams from Forest Unknown.  There are several tracks I would have chosen ahead of this one, namely, Ea Lord of the Deep and War.  But who am I to quibble over something like this.  The other is to choose Svart Troner off of Det Som Engang Var.  I can understand the logic of linking the ambient future of Burzum and showing its early origins but there was so much better material on that release.  And of course I prefer his actual black metal output.  And I was blown away when they included Jesus Tod from Filosofem as that has one of the coldest and most hypnotic riffs ever within the dark depths of the black metal genre.  Funnily enough it is followed up by two tracks later by Balfers Baldrs which is almost note for note that same riff played out on Keyboard, once more illustrating the link between the black metal and ambient visions of Varg.  I was also impressed by the inclusion of Det Som Engang Var from Hyvis Lyset Tar Oss, which is as bleak and melancholic of a song as one person's mental state can handle.  The way it blends slow guitar riffing and simplistc yet evocative keyboard movements is an artistic creation of sheer desolation and misanthropy.  I can still remember the day I received Hyvis Lyset Tar Oss while I was living in Okinawa and it was 100 degrees outside.  I still felt a chill run down my spine.  One thing that sets Burzum apart from other acts from that era was Varg's ability to meld simple keyboards and supremely fuzzed out guitars into a somber and bleak, yet hypnotic soundscape.  Burzum will continue to live in a magical otherworld of mystery and lore.  Aside from his criminal activities which gave black metal its aura of authenticity, musically Varg created something vital and unique.  For those of you new to Burzum this is a really good starting point but for those of you already familiar with Burzum this is something to pass on unless you are a completist.  There is no new material on offer here.  However this does not diminish the impact Burzum had on the scene and with most of Burzum's releases not available domestically in the USA this is a worthwhile effort.