Burzum: Hvis lyset tar oss
08/10/12 || BamaHammer
I always feel weird when combining a trve black metal album with the epic Class6(66) format here at teh GD. Judging the album based on each quality (primarily production value) is really not very conducive to the fact that it’s supposed to sound like dog ass. So being the statistical expert that I pretend to be, I’ve devised an
opinionated awesome way around it. I’m going to adjust the scores subjectively and reflect total tr00 kvlt grvmness! Get ready for a shitload of random v‘s.
6. Grvm Adjvsted Score: 8,5. This album is comprised of four tracks that clock in at 44:28. Clearly they have to be done well if I’m going to sit there for that long and hear four ideas. This is what was to become the gold standard for black metal songwriting as well. The black metal M.O. is there: lots of strumming, minor chords, tremolo-picked leads, repetitive moments broken up after a while by more repetitive moments. But it all works so fantastically well because of the atmosphere created by the sound of the album as a whole. Wtih every listen, I almost fail to notice that I’ve been hearing the same riff for minutes upon minutes simply because it’s such a cool, creepy riff, and there’s plenty of other qualities to hear all around in the mix. The instrumental, “Tomhet”, at the end of the record is one of the coolest atmospheric “mood” pieces I’ve ever heard, and it sounds like it was done with a cheap Casio keyboard.
5. Grvm Adjvsted Score: 8,5. Obviously the whole album sounds like the gruesome murder/rape of a demonically possessed Smvrf inside of an insulated storage crate, but that’s what it’s supposed to sound like. This is teh fucken black metal albvm, ass-hat. Varg has always been the foremost authority in the classic “minimalist” or “nekro” black metal sound, and “HLTO” is a rather typical example of his anti-expertise (WTF?!) when it comes to producing and engineering a shitty-sounding black metal album. Every time I listen to this album, I feel like everything that comes out of the speakers falls into a very small window of sound frequency that’s just ever so slightly tilted more toward the bass end than the treble end of the spectrum. Nothing really pops or pierces through the mix, and nothing is really powerful or punchy. It doesn’t sound good or horrible. It just sounds. By design.
5. Grvm Adjvsted Score: 7,5. Varg can play a riff or two and play them for a long fucken time. When you look at the riffs within the spectrum of the entire “metal riff universe”, everything is embarrassingly elementary and quite simple for any guitarist to pick out within a listen or two. Not only that, but everything gets repeated enough times that it would make Mikael Åkerfeldt notice the monotony. However, when you examine the guitar work in the scope of the tr00, grvm, and nekro void that is the world of black metal, everything makes perfect sense and is totally acceptable. Chords and song structures become haunting instead of repetitive. Leads become torturous wails instead of a “guitar solo”. All in all, there is more to the guitars on “HLTO” than meets the eye. Or ear. Or whatever.
3. Grvm Adjvsted Score: 7. They’re torturous and borderline annoying, but they’re also classic. Varg’s signature high-pitched “Norwegian prison rape” yell is in full effect on this one, and it really brings a haunting quality that fractures the repetitive guitar riffing just enough to make for an extremely interesting album. Nothing else out there really sounds like Varg, making most of his vocal contributions on all of Burzum’s albums pretty original and kvlt and whatnot.
4. Grvm Adjvsted Score: 2,5. It’s there. Sort of. Occasionally, I can’t even hear it because it completely disappears under the cheap fuzz of the guitar. It never veers away from what the guitar is doing at all. Basically the instrument just provides a low end presence for the chords that reinforce what you’re already hearing anyway. Come to think of it, black metal in those days was never about basses. Why can I hear a bass? Untrve!
3. Grvm Adjvsted Score: 6. Varg actually makes Fenriz sound like Dave Lombardo’s teacher. The drumming always falls into a speed purgatory where you can’t really describe it as truly fast or truly slow. Licks and fills are pretty much non-existent, and the drums simply serve as a means to drive the song tempo, and that’s all really. Plus, I’m pretty sure the high-hat was beat to absolute shit over the course of recording this albvm.
7. Grvm Adjvsted Score: 7. All Norwegian.
En åpning i skogen
Hvor solen skinner
Hindret av trærne fanges vi
I denne guds åpning
Mmhmm. Yes. Deep. Poetic. I guess. I don’t fucken know. Bonus points though because I learned here that skogen means forest. The translations I’ve read sound pretty nonsensical but interesting nonetheless. I’ll take the high road and roll a 7. Yahtzee, bitches.
1. or 10. Grvm Adjvsted Score: 1 or 10. I don’t know. I can’t tell if this is awesome and epic or just incredibly cheesy and dorky. I had to do my research about the sketch, “The Pauper”, which was done in 1895 by Theodor Kittelsen, a man whose art Vikernes
stole used for album covers on multiple occasions. Kittelsen was clearly the Victorian Dan Seagrave. In my opinon, the piece is really fitting just because of what appears to be going on in the sketch. Obviously, this zombie was taking a stroll down a dirt path in the forest like he did every day, only today, as he approached a bright area of the path, he slipped on a banana peel that just so happens to be shaped like a bird from Kittelsen’s angle and proceeded to bust his ass on the curb. Mario Kart style. Fuck.
6,5. Grvm Adjvsted Score: 9. Say what you will (and you could say a lot, cuz this shit’s pretty lame), but this, a simple extension of Bathory’s classic logo, is one of the logos that served as the basis for tons of do-it-yourself black metal band logos for more than a decade. Get some random old English script font, make it white, CAPSLOCK, put that shit on a black background, and bam. Got yourself a tr00, kvlt, and whvtever else black metvl logo. The black version here doesn’t really “pop” or even look too great on an already dark backdrop, but it works for what it is.
5,5. Grvm Adjvsted Score: 8. No staples, if you know what I mean. A single fold of simple black paper with the cover and back cover on one side and lyrics and shit in some eyesore of an unreadable font on the other. Kvlt as fvck, cheap as fvck. Black metal as fvck.
Overall and ending rant
So there you have it. One of the albums that defined silly faux-words like grvm, tr00, nekro, and kvlt. This isn’t the best black metal album out there. In fact it’s nowhere near. But when you’re looking for that archetypal example of the trve spirit of black metal embodied on a disc, this album has to be mentioned. It’s one of the all-time greats whether you like it or not.
- Released: 1994
- Label: Misanthropy Records
- Website: www.burzum.com
- Varg Vikernes: everything
- 01. Det Som En Gang Var
- 02. Hvis Lyset Tar Oss
- 03. Inn I Slottet Fra Drømmen
- 04. Tomhet