Released: 2012, Byelobog Productions
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
As a Black Metal fan one is expected to be at least slightly elitist. To slag off Dimmu Borgir for "selling out" but hurry to reassure how much you like their earlier work. To go into lengthy discussions about little known bands and proclaim how trve they are and feel happy about agreeing which Mayhem album is best. When it comes to Burzum, it is standard for people to praise Varg Vikernes pre-prison work and have mixed opinions about his later releases. Anyhow, elitism is only healthy to a certain extent and I am yet to come across a Burzum fan who is not chuffed about the release of this album.
Burzum, or more so the frontman of this one man band, Varg Vikernes, needs little or no introduction and has undoubtedly earned a status as one of the forgers of Black Metal. Over two decades of producing some of the most remarkable sounds in the genre and with no indication of ceasing, we are presented with Umskiptar (2012) as his latest demonic spawn. Being released
in May 2012 it is already causing waves of sheer excitement that always follow any new Burzum production. And for a reason.
As with every album, whilst maintaining unmistakably distinct and unique sound, Varg creates a theme particular only for that specific set of songs, making it a too enticing combination for any Black Metal fan not to appreciate. Umskiptar is no exception and bears a very much unearthly sound,
extraordinarily eerie, doused in the perfume of Scandinavian gods reaping victories with their swords held high and dark clouds gathering above their heads, in the forests of the density untold. With lyrics being taken from an old Norse poem, Völuspá, I could not be closer to the truth. As a matter of fact, the lyrics can be heard very clearly and anyone familiar with any of the Scandinavian languages will be able to understand at least a word or two. Actually, gently and softly spoken/sung Norwegian is an integral part of Umskiptar and rather than just allowing you to be a passive listener, it draws you in and enhances the feeling of being really connected with the floating sounds of the melodic heaviness.
In its entity the album is a strong mix of atmospheric, ambient and black metal nuances. 4th, 6th, 7th and 10th tracks, Hit Helga Tré, Heiðr, Valgaldr and Gullaldr respectively, are particularly atmospheric, with Hit Helga Tré probably being my favourite. One even does not have to look up the
English translation of the lyrics to feel Nordic mythology seeping out. Intro and closing songs only reinforce a feeling of this album being a one long Viking tale. It is beautiful, simply beautiful.
On a concluding note, I think it takes to be a hardcore fan to ignore all the debates and statements about pre- and post prison Varg Vikernes work. Opinions may differ but objectively though, Umskiptar is really a scrumptiously nostalgic Nordic ballad, very black and folk/doom-laden in its texture, a must have dish for any Black Metal fan. It's like a journey full of attempts how to express the beauty and the pain of Metamorphoses (=Umskiptar). Compared with previous albums, Umskiptar is probably as close as it gets to the return of old school Burzum, therefore Belus (2010) and Fallen (2011) could be seen like a gradual shift towards that direction. 4.5 out of 5 for as brilliant as it is, for a Black Metal album it just was not…heavy enough.
Dominus Sathanas. m/
Review by: Öna Helveti