Burzum Belus

Burzum Belus
What began as a primitive assault on the tenets of modern music and culture, and climaxed with an incarceration that lasted 15 years has now come full circle. Varg Vikernes' latest release, and first guitar-based record since 1996's Filosofem, is a successful return to the formula that made his early efforts so arresting while displaying a newfound sense of maturity and depth that somewhat tempers the foreboding tone his work is generally acknowledged for. While not quite as desolate or fast-paced as Hvis Lyset Tar Oss or as outright memorable as the debut, where Belus shows its strengths is in the tastefulness of the guitar playing and the general arc of the album's structure, which hints at a mythological concept both obscured and enhanced by the exclusively Norwegian lyrics. From a technical and production standpoint, it is by far his most accomplished release, featuring expansive, hazy textural nuances and a robust mix that highlights the guitar-oriented approach he has adapted since his return to free society. The formerly prominent synths are strangely, but effectively, absent and the vocals are more consistent, if a tad less emotive. Belus isn't his finest work, but both fans of Burzum and newcomers alike should be able to look past their expectations and appreciate it for what it is: a strong entry into his catalogue and an eerily beautiful look into Varg's perception of the past, both ideologically and musically. (Byelobog)