If you are a follower of Norwegian black metal, the name Burzum and the history that surrounds this one man band should be very familiar. For those new to this extreme metal genre, Burzum, the act which is basically the musical outlet of one Varg Vikernes, were a part of the first wave of black metal bands coming out of Norway in the early 1990's, alongside Mayhem, Emperor, Immortal, Darkthrone, and Gorgoroth. Vikernes was convicted of the murder of Mayhem guitarist Euronymous, as well as being involved in some of the church burnings in Norway, and has spent the last decade plus in prison. Though he's released various albums since the mid-1990's, this is pretty much the first real Burzum album in eleven years, and a real return to form. Now that Vikernes is out of prison, he's seemingly set to once again take his throne at the top of the black metal mountain.
Belus is somewhat like a fairy tale according to Vikernes, with lyrics (in Norwegian) relating to the story of Belus as he might have been perceived by the ancient Europeans. Musically, Belus is pretty impressive, a dense combination of raging black metal and haunting atmosphere. While some of the early Burzum material was often time chaotic and dissonant, there's plenty of beauty here, as melodic guitar riffs and what sounds at times like sparse keyboards, though quite heavy, just ring with a certain majesty and charm that's often times lacking in the genre. The epic "Glemselens Elv" sees Vikernes' effects laden growls floating about a non-stop barrage of symphonic tremelo picked guitar riffs and thunderous drum blasts, while "Kaimadalthas' Nedstigning" is pure black metal at its most furious, complete with rapid fire riffs and drum fills plus screaming vocal rasps. The use of clean , almost spoken word vocals on this one is quite well done, and adds a chilling aspect. Pulverizing blast beats threaten to bash your skull in on the raging beast that is "Keliohesten", and the atmospheric instrumental "Morgenrøde" runs the gamut from brutal to symphonic. The album ends with another instrumental, "Belus' Tilbakekomst", a grand and sweeping opus, that shows just how much Vikernes has matured over the years, as it ends the CD with a surge of melodic yet frightening power.
Belus will be a refreshing release for many who feel that the black metal genre has gotten a little stagnant over the years. Though quite punishing at times, this is epic sounding material that uses guitars in many different ways to achieve all sorts of varying moods and colors. Texture and melodic thunder are mixed to great effect on Belus, signaling the return of the legendary Burzum. Let's see where history next takes Mr. Vikernes.
1. Lukans Renkespill (Lukan's Scheme)
2. Belus' Død (Belus' Death)
3. Glemselens Elv (The River Of Forgetfulness)
4. Kaimadalthas' Nedstigning (Kaimadalthas' Descent)
5. Besøk Til Kelio (Visit to Kelio)
6. Alvenes Dans (Elven Dance)
7. Alvegavene (The Elven Gifts)
8. Sverddans (Sword Dance)
9. Keliohesten (The Kelio Horse)
10. Morgenrøde (Dawn's Red)
11. Belus' Tilbakekomst (Belus' Return)