Released: 2010, Candlelight Records
Rehabilitated, rejuvenated and now finally re-assimilated into what one could only assume are the significantly cushier confines of the legendary Grieghalen recording facilities, BELUS is a record that many feared would never be. Others would argue that it should never have seen the light of day given its creator’s colorful and, let’s be honest, often unsavory past.
But for those of us who opt not to take the moral high ground, BELUS holds the promise of a rare treat; a black metal album that plays as though Pro Tools were never invented. Indeed, it should come as no surprise to learn that the music on Burzum’s seventh full length album comes cased in levels of low fidelity that would make the boys in Darkthrone wince. Yet, this isn’t to suggest that Vikernes hasn’t learned a few new tricks in the meantime. For starters, BELUS boasts a noticeable uplift in his technical skills as a guitarist, complemented by a more controlled and ultimately more striking turn in the vocal booth. You won’t find any 20-minute ambient romps here either; the album sprawls across seven tracks proper of stark, emotive black metal, reflective rather than aggressive but no less potent for it. Heck, old Varg even summons the apparently indomitable spirit of vintage thrash on “Sverddans”, although I’d bet good money on him never admitting it.
As impressive a comeback as BELUS is however, don’t be fooled into expecting anything like the misanthropic summit reached by classic songs like “Dunkelheit”. You could point to the virtual absence of synth, shutting out a dynamic which has always embellished Burzum’s music in the past. The truth of it is that for many BELUS may actually come across as slightly too subdued. Whether that’s down to a case of the proverbial ring rust or a man simply acting his age, only time will tell.