death metal underground
The Ultimate Death Metal Resource
Death Metal Search Engine
Burzum - Det Som Engang Var
Review: With this album, the intent to make "ambient metal" pushed Burzum to replace longer narrative songs with shorter looping ones and ambient soundscapes, meaning that instead of working from a principle of telling a story through the change in riffs, the music creates a mood and then selectively alters it internally to make its final motif emerge from within. The result is both the most easily grasped Burzum album and one that falls short on much of the promise of this band.
Reminiscent of early R.E.M., songs create a sparse harmonic structure and then regulate its emotional balance with layers of vocal and guitar variations on a circular pattern of simple themes. Ambience derived from tension through repetition sustains an atmosphere of emotional darkness with internal complexity that turns the monolithic repetition of angst into a flowing narrative of imagination and desire beyond the present. Riffs extend and lull in hypnotic rhythm, like sunlight caught in dancing dust at the end of the day: a melody of chords washing over the last notes, plucking the combinatoric possibilities of the harmonic content of the chords relative to the dominant motif of the song, in beautiful contrast of haranguing noise and its lingering beauty of decomposition.
A deliberate concept album which presents in macrocosm a topography of moods much as the longer songs of the first album did, Det Som Engang Var is a hybrid between ambient metal and the narrative structures that made black and death metal rise above the popular music morass. Much as Blessed Are the Sick by Morbid Angel provided a codex to unlock the methods of constructing death metal, the second Burzum album explains black metal and the clash between the ancient (narrative) and modern (ambient) by resolving them both to a primitive outlook on life, a spiritual holocaust that eliminates our feelings and judgments and replaces them with the hard reality of a cold night in the forest.