Varg Vikernes has been especially active since his release from prison in 2009: This Spring he’s unleashing Fallen, Burzum’s second post-incarceration collection, and eighth album overall. (It’s the first to have a proper North American release.) Because of his much-discussed politics, Vikernes will always have detractors, but it’s difficult to criticize his music. Fallen showcases excellently well-paced, idiosyncratic, mature, raw but refined black metal: He pushes his voice in new directions, uses more progressive song structures and melodies (on “Jeg Faller” he layers his voice like a Heathen youth crew); the guitar sound’s beautiful, the ambient pieces full of expressive textures and real emotion (closer “Til Hel og tilbake igjen” is like old Japanese psych folk crew Ghost haunting the Norwegian countryside). It’s maybe even better than Belus, Haunting The Chapel’s No. 10 album of last year, though I need more listens before I start making those sorts of claims. In a statement about Fallen‘s sound from earlier this month, Vikernes said:
Musically Fallen is a cross between Belus and something new, inspired more by the debut album and Det Som Engang Var than by Hvis Lyset Tar Oss or Filosofem. The sound is more dynamic. We mastered the album as if it was classical music and I was more experimental than I was on Belus in all respects. Lyrically it is similar to the debut album, in the way that it is more personal and focuses on existential issues. But the mythological undertone known from Belus is still there. I have also included some ambient tracks, a short introduction and a longer conclusion.
The guy’s always good at describing his own work, so I asked him for additional background on standout track “Vanvidd.” Read Varg’s explanation before you listen:
“Vanvidd” translates as “madness,’ or better “lunacy,” and is a song in praise of all those who have the guts to stand out and break from conformity — and who are seen as lunatics and losers by the vulgar masses for doing so. These “lunatics” are also, in some sense, fallen individuals. In addition to that I want to say that lunacy is not (always) a bad thing. Most innovative men in history were lunatics … like Leonardo da Vinci, Alexander the Great, Richard the Lionheart, to name a few.
01 “Fra Verdenstreet”
02 “Jeg Faller”
05 “Enhver til Sitt”
07 “Til Hel Og Tilbake Igjen”
Fallen is out 4/5 via Byelobog (and Candlelight in North America). The cover, featuring a painting by William Adolphe Bouguereau, is obviously different than Burzum’s previous art design. Vikernes said of it:
[T]he cover is part of a painting called Elegy. I used it in this context because the album deals with the concept of falling, not least in a metaphysical sense. By definition, ‘elegy’ means a mournful, melancholy, or plaintive poem. It is a funeral song or a lament for the dead. It is a poem written in elegiac meter or a sad or mournful musical composition.
If you want additional information on Burzum, along with my thoughts on his beliefs, I spoke with Varg at length last year.