Burzum - Umskiptar
For English speakers, the lure of a new Burzum record is
easy to see: massive, icy but gritty black metal by one of the originators of
the genre who has only continued to produce great records since his release
from prison. Not knowing how to speak Norwegian lifts us from the
responsibility of grooving out to songs whose lyrics are probably as antisocial
and sincerely sociopathic as any music ever made outside of Spahn Ranch. But
maybe not this time. "Umskiptar" uses words and ideas from a Norse poem called "Völuspá," a word meaning Metamorphosis. As
such Varg Vikernes' rage at and cold assessment of all things not Nordic are
expressed through a classic tale of heroism and honor.
The power and breadth of the poem inspire Varg to elaborate on his
signature sound, giving it extra nuance and chilling evocation. "Alfadanz" (Elven Dance) features massive, abrasive
guitars, thrashing rhythm and some of Varg's best throaty vocals ever. "Hit helga Tré" (The sacred Tree) likewise ups the power
and the almost prayerlike vocals are disturbing and uplifting at once.
"Heiðr "(Esteem) mostly spoken
poem with a jittery riff that can legitimately be called Dark Surf. In the same
vein, "Gullaldr" (Golden Age), a half-spoken word, minimalist brooding ballad,
is one of Burzum's more soulful tracks.
Say what you will about Varg Vikernes' often troubling ideas (and actions), he has managed to
ground his artistic aesthetic in an understanding and deep admiration of the
violence and grandeur of Nordic mythology. "Umskiptar" is one of
Burzum's most explicit connections to that heritage, and rightly one of his
most inspired records.
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