BURZUM – Thulêan Mysteries28th February 2020 0 By Mark Booth
BURZUM…a band that are forever steeped in controversy and all due to one man… the notorious Varg Vikernes. The man who infamously burnt churches in Norway and murdered Euronymous of MAYHEM, although he states it was self defence and in a recent interview MAYHEM bassist Necrobutcher admitted he wanted to kill Euronymous! Then we have Varg’s belief which were heavily in the neo-Nazi camp, although he has always also favoured Paganism and Odinism beliefs. He did come out in the early 2000s and state he “occasionally used the term ‘nazism’ to describe his ideological foundations, but no longer describes himself as such”. In fact he says the only group he’s ever been apart of is ‘Riksmålsforbundet’, which is the “Society for the Preservation of Traditional Standard Norwegian (language)”.
Varg just seems to be content now with social conservatism, simple living and self-sufficiency, including survivalism. However some of his views are still skewered, such as his antisemitic messages he posted on YouTube (which have now been removed), however these are his views and he doesn’t force them upon the listener in his songs (this isn’t National Socialist Black Metal).
However to just dismiss any BURZUM release due to Varg’s beliefs or past is deplorable, this is a band that shaped black metal with classics in the genre such as ‘Det Som Engang Var’, ‘Hvis Lyset Tar Oss’ and ‘Filosofem’ and even some of his post prison releases such as ‘Belus’ and ‘Fallen’ show the talent Varg has and can still offer to the scene. People who dismiss BURZUM music because of Varg I assume must surely also dismiss and despise all bands who have a chequered past?
However I know from personal experience this isn’t the case, I’ve been labelled a fascist for liking BURZUM, yet the people who labelled me that love PANTERA? Now this is a band were Phil Anselmo, the lead singer if you didn’t know (shame on you if you didn’t) , has been filmed numerous times spouting white power beliefs and doing nazi salutes. Even Dimebag Darrell (the guitarist, and amazing he was) played with a confederation flag guitar…yet if you listen to PANTERA you’re not a fascist nazi, only if you listen to BURZUM? Double standards it seems in the metal community? (for the record I love PANTERA as well)
Anyway back to the review of “Thulêan Mysteries” which is an album that’s come out of nowhere and wasn’t really intended as the statement below from Varg confirms:
“Thulêan Mysteries was made passively, in the sense that I never intended to make a new album; I just made music every now and then and at one point realized that I actually had enough to release it all on an album. When asked to do so I figured: why not? It was a good idea. The music is a little bit of this and a little bit of that, transcending any genre, and perhaps belonging to many different genres. The intention with it was always to create a certain atmosphere, often related to an idea or a situation. Since my true passion has never been music, but actually tabletop role-playing games, I figured I should make this an album intended for that use; as background music for my own MYFAROG (Mythic Fantasy Role-playing Game). Hopefully you will get a sense of Thulê when you listen to this, like always with Burzum, ideally when on your own. I hope you will enjoy this soundtrack to Thulê, to Mother Nature and life itself” – Varg Vikernes
Now I’ll be honest, I don’t follow the exploits of Varg that closely and didn’t even know he had released a role playing game until the statement above. So this release piqued my interest as in my younger days I loved role playing games (just don’t have time nowadays to immerse myself in a campaign!) and was looking at what BURZUM would bring to the table(top).
I’ll admit upon pressing play am underwhelmed…I was expecting the black metal to be non-existent as BURZUM have been leaning more towards a more ambient and folk inspired sound. Which when done well can be entrancing and bewitching, however the first two tracks are non-existent and I had to keep checking if the album was playing. They are 4 minutes of silence with interspersion of soft noises every so often, however on the track ‘ForeBears’ the strings are added and lift the album up to the ambient folk music we are expecting. From this track onwards the songs vastly improve and are the melancholic soothing tunes we were expecting and when the vocals are added they lift the tracks. Whether that be by the soft tranquil harmonies or the insistence chanting that enthral the listener.
Fans of BURZUM back catalogue will also be familiar with the song ‘Skin Traveller’ as its an decomposition and stripped back version of the song ‘Han Som Reiste’ from the album ‘Det Som Engang Var’. Although “Thulêan Mysteries” can be mesmerizing at times, especially on the longer opuses on offer, some of the shorter tracks seem like fillers and disrupt the album flow. However I suppose this could be expected as the album wasn’t recorded and planned as a release and is just an accumulation of tracks recorded over numerous years. The other negative I suppose some might draw from this release (myself included) is that the ambience never changes from melodic and soothing, no dramatic increase in tempo or sonic landscape. It’s as if your character in MYFAROG never encounters danger and just meanders around the landscape in a stupor, oblivious to the world around them.
Some will argue that’s the point of the release as its meant to be the accompanying music to your MYFAROG game (or any other role playing game) however the album doesn’t change and listening to it in it’s entirety in any other context apart from background noise just becomes tiresome and repetitive. Although BURZUM showcase they can still be a tour de force, no matter what the genre, this release really is meant to be a complement to a RPG session (although personally I like a bit of tempo change in my background music).
SCORE – 5.5
1. The Sacred Well
2. The Loss of a Hero
4. A Thulêan Perspective
5. Gathering of Herbs
6. Heill auk Sæll
8. Spell-Lake Forest
9. The Ettin Stone Heart
10. The Great Sleep
11. The Land of Thulê
12. The Lord of the Dwarves
13. A Forgotten Realm
14. Heill Óðhinn
15. The Ruins of Dwarfmount
16. The Road to Hel
17. Thulêan Sorcery
18. Descent Into Nifelheimr
19. Skin Traveller
20. The Dreamland
21. Thulean Mysteries
22. The Password
23. The Loss of Thulê
13th March 2020
To purchase the album, click HERE
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Devotees and followers of the Cult of Cletus, I am your true God and my word is law! I come forth to spew daemon loving music at your ears and to corrupt your little mind. My words maybe harsh but I want only the best for my minions! So when I discover a new deadly spawn of music take heed and purchase...