I know who Varg Vikernes is. I know the story. But up til now, I'd never heard a Burzum album. I'm not surprised since I'm not really a huge Black Metal fan. I don't know why. I decided to listen to Belus more out of curiosity than anything. Varg's first album since his release is a big deal so what kind of metal "writer" would I be if I didn't at least check it out. Turns out, I'm kinda glad I did.
Remember, I have no experience with Burzum to compare too and not a whole lot of "traditional" Black Metal experience either.
At first I was put off a little by the lo-fi production but I remembered it is intentional and was instantly able to disregard that aspect and concentrate on the music itself. Other than the fact that the strumming almost never stops, it's not incredibly technical. It's the atmosphere. I think I might actually "get" Black Metal now. Belus has an atmosphere that I can understand now. It's bleak. It's evil. It's cold. I keep picturing a candle lit cave in the side of a snow covered mountain with a fierce wind in the depths of night. Since I'm from Canada, I can somewhat relate. Not really the mountain part or the cave part, but I have been camping in a tent in -30 Celsius weather in February. At least the sun was out during the day.
I really enjoy the subtleties I can hear if I really pay attention. There isn't any punch-in-the-face moments or anything but it has an energy to it nonetheless. There can feel a meandering in the flow of the guitar. Almost like flying with no real deadline or destination. The object flying just happens to be a bird of prey soaring over the treetops in search of its next meal. The drumming is uninspiring (not that I expected any different) and I can't understand a word he is saying. Most of it wouldn't matter even if it was English. Despite its indecipherability, I sense and theme or a story. A story of menacing desolation, isolation and loneliness.
Now, it's possible the Black Metal purist/fanatic/connoisseur may have a vastly different opinion than I do, but given my limited base of comparison as far as Black Metal goes, I think it's pretty good. I wonder if Belus could end up being my Black Metal gateway drug?