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Burzum - Burzum/Aske
Review: The first Burzum album helped black metal outgrow popular music by adding complex narrative song structures, advanced phrasal riffs that developed melody over multiple iterations, and a mood that wrought from despair a desire to destroy all false beauty and in its stead, dream what of might be preferred. It creates this outlook through simple, often suffocatingly feral music that communicates the dissatisfaction, misery and anger of a generation trapped in a world where what is claimed to be "good" may be bad, and vice-versa.
As a result, Burzum functions through inversions. Throughout the album, riffs that are borderline simplistic unfold into motifs that grow through time to reduce complexity to the bare minimum, like a traveler paring down luggage and his mental state for an arduous journey. The two centerpieces of the album, "My Journey to the Stars" and "Feeble Screams from Forests Unknown," emphasize a type of deconstruction to literal reality that then flowers into complex, cosmic visions as channeled into through-composed lengthy compositions with a melodic base accentuated by the power chord phrases that comprise its riffs.
Songs repeat simple patterns as part of an enveloping phrase that uses repetitions of its components to project an ambience of the whole, resembling the way William Burroughs wrote Naked Lunch: cutting up a vision into fragments spreading throughout a random landscape, depending on the consciousness of the reader to re-assemble them. Riffs of elemental power chord patterns inject additional notes strummed between chordings to build simple harmonies for biting contrast, as chord voicings vary to embed multiple melodies in harmony.
Vocals are lengthy screams that spread the hoarse demonscreech over several notes, often accentuating the rhythms of the riffs (dominant rhythm of each song, lulling hypnotic strum of seething distortion). Like most black metal, this is contrast-counterpoint material that illustrates isolation and despair in the isolated, weeping, enraged howls and the riffs that form a landscape beneath it, as if crafting an opera from industrial noise and vast emptiness. From distortion, machine noises, hatred and morbidity comes a sense of what does have potential bleeding through the wasteland of the abraded.
Yet this violent, obscure ambient metal projects into our consciousness a stimulation of fantasy and from that, a sense of what we would prefer, creating in turn an ugly desire to destroy the ugly and find within beauty. This is the mocking spirit of nihilism that lets us reject calcified social convention and reach for the transcendent, even if it means committing ourselves to warfare so that we might discover real beauty instead of the false self-declared beauty imposed on us by a moribund civilization.