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Burzum - Fallen

Byelobog Productions
Produced by Varg Vikernes

Most people associated with rock n' roll infamy – Ozzy Osbourne, Nikki Sixx, Axl Rose – got that way with iconoclastic personalities and crazy antics both offstage and on. Burzum's Varg Vikernes' reputation is derived instead from his anti-semitic pagan belief system and murder of his friend, Mayhem founder Øystein "Euronymous" Aarseth.

His conviction for the crime and subsequent 21-year sentence, when paired with his racism and run through the filter of his massive delusions of grandeur, has made it difficult for some people who would otherwise be Burzum fans to look past the personality and enjoy the music. Albums like Hvis Lyset Tar Oss and Filosofem are among the most essential in the history of the black metal genre, but more so than bands like Mayhem, Immortal and Emperor, Burzum has failed to find much of an audience beyond the truest of black metal connoisseurs.

Fallen could change all that. Vikernes' second studio album since his 2009 release from Norwegian federal prison, it features the crispest production of his career as well as the most prevalent use of his folk influences, something he always talked up but buried at the back of the mix. On songs like Jeg Faller and Budstikken we get huge, sung choruses from Vikernes that resemble the Viking chants that he insists influence him (as opposed to those Negro blues; his words, not mine).

Thankfully, the instrumentation surrounding these folky chants remains strictly black metal, even when arranged in a more folky manner. Strange Northern European instruments are relegated to experimental closing track Til Hel Og Tilbake Igjen and one minute album intro Fra Verdenstreet. The meat of the record is the five black metal compositions that fall between these, and each is among the best work of Vikernes' career.

Fallen also marks what is likely the most accessible album in the Burzum oeuvre, and the ease with which it can now be found in record stores (along with the fact that Vikernes has now paid his debt to society) may open this legendary one-man band up to a whole new generation of fans. They could find much worse places to start.

“ crispest production of his career ”

Tracklist: Fra Verdenstreet / Jeg Faller / Valen / Vanvidd / Enhver Til Sitt / Budstikken / Til Hel Og Tilbake Igjen

Written by Brad Sanders
More: 2011, Albums, Black Metal,

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