BURZUM - Burzum / Aske (BACK ON BLACK - LP 2005)
Burzum and Varg Vickernes… Everybody has his own opinion on this guy, his views (religious and especially political), his deeds and his music; some hate him, some worship him, but no one is careless. Personally I don’t really follow Grishnackh’s opinions and ideas, but I do have deep respect for this guy for standing behind his views and visions for so many years and not giving up. Even if he meets so many problems (like recently with the French police) he still says what he thinks and beliefs in – and for that I can only respect and even admire Varg. As for the music of Burzum – well, there are some LPs like “Filosofem” and “Hvis lyset tar oss”, which are pure masterpieces, but at the same time I must admit that I never really followed the ambient era Burzum and do not care much about “Daudi Baldrs” or whatever… And obviously there are also the two now legendary debut releases from Deathlike Silence – “Burzum” LP and “Aske” MLP. Well, the thing with these two recordings is that back in the 90’s I only had them on cassette and later they became so bloody expensive (on vinyl especially) that I didn’t bother to get them on the two original versions. And nowadays it’s too easy to get fucked with some worthless Greek bootleg versions, which some fuckers released to earn easy money, so again I am not bothered about these two LPs (they even made these bootlegs look like the legendary Deathlike Silence editions). Well, for that they’ll surely get impaled on the unholy cock of jesus the jew – as this is the only faith they deserve… but where am I going with all this? Well, I just try to say that while the separate first press vinyls of “Burzum” and “Aske” are so expensive and risky, then I am just happy to have them on this 2005 Back On Black vinyl version, where both recordings have been compiled on a double vinyl. OK, for some collectors this version may be as worthless as the Greek bootleg, but honestly I don’t care… at least this is an official release, I didn’t have to pay too much for it back in 2005 and more so, I also didn’t make one Greek asshole more reach. All positives…
But there’re couple of things, which I don’t like about this Back on Black edition of “Burzum / Aske”. First and foremost, I hate the fact that they dropped the “Burzum” version of “A Lost Forgotten Sad Spirit” on it, leaving only the version originally featured on “Aske”. This obviously makes this vinyl very incomplete and it is something what should have been done differently in my opinion… Also the fact that the layout for the LP hasn’t got the “Aske” famous cover of burnt church (it only can be slightly seen under the lyrics in the inlay card) nor any of the early 90’s Vickernes’ photos is also something what I would change personally. Other than that the vinyl is released well enough, plays fantastically and is all good. And I do love that original artwork of “Burzum” LP – even if it has been taken directly from "Dungeons & Dragons - The Temple of Elemental Evil" (just as the artwork for “Det som engang var”) – it looks awesome on vinyl format.
Musically both “Burzum” and “Aske” are not my favourite Burzum releases, but for sure I like them – for both their musical and historical values. The biggest problem with “Burzum” is that the album is very uneven and together with some exceptionally brilliant songs like “Feeble Screams from Forests Unknown” and “Ea, Lord of the Depths” it also contains some useless fillers and songs, which simply don’t match the quality of the songs which I have just mentioned. I’m talking about such “War”, which is a song similar to Bathory’s “Bathory” and early Mayhem, but it’s just nothing truly special… Or let me put it this way – musically and atmosphere wise it just doesn’t fit to rest of the album, in my opinion. And then we have such “The Crying Orc” (what a hilarious title… what was he thinking?) and “Dungeons of Darkness” – which both are simply fillers, which I consider to be utterly useless… Yeah, “Burzum” doesn’t have the flow and doesn’t hold the same quality, feeling and atmosphere through its entire tracklist and too often everything is interrupted by such forgettable songs. I would be OK if it only had “Channelling the Power of Souls into a New God”, which is actually really nice dark ambient song (or intro, whatever you call it). But more such songs are just a little bit too much for me.
I think that this album will still be pretty unlistenable for many, due to its utterly harsh, primitive and obscure production and playing… and more so, due to the agonizing screams of Varg, who sounds like possessed, tortured person. But once you get into the sound and style of Burzum’s music you will like its feeling, that cold and inhuman atmosphere and catch some really awesome riffs. Like that opening theme for “Ea, Lord of the Depths” – OK, the drumming may not be the most impressive (to say at least hehe), but that riff is just killer! And there are more great songs like “Spell of Destruction” (when I listen to it now, I can see where Behemoth took their main influences from when recording “Return of the Northern Moon” demo hehe) – which is a great epic song and “My Journey to the Stars”. Yeah, I do love all these songs I mentioned, although the best Burzum recordings were yet to come with “Filosofem” and “Hvis lyset tar oss”.
And as for “Aske”… It contains just three anthems: “Stemmen fra tårnet”, “Dominus Sathanas” (yet another instrumental…) and new version of “A Lost Forgotten Sad Spirit”. And well, this may be the least interesting recording of all, which Burzum did in the early 90s. “Stemmen fra tårnet” is OK, but nothing more than that and “Dominus Sathanas” is as useless as the song about crying orc. “A Lost Forgotten Sad Spirit” is the only really worthy song from “Aske” - even if I don’t think it’s been necessary to re-record it for the MLP, when it has already been perfectly played on “Burzum”. Anyway, summing everything up – “Burzum / Aske” is not my favourite piece of Norwegian black metal; I prefer some other albums much, much more… but for sure “Burzum / Aske” is also worth a lot; for both historical and musical matters. I cannot imagine a black metal maniac without having this album in his collection.
Standout tracks: “Ea, Lord of the Depths”, “Feeble Screams from Forests Unknown”, “My Journey to the Stars”
Final rate: 80/100