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Burzum - Sôl austan, Mâni vestan

[colored_box color=”grey”]Rating: 5
Label: Byelobog Productions
Website: Link
Author: Victoria Rullman[/colored_box]

The days of Varg Vikernes’ black metal compositions are long gone. One of the world’s most notorious musicians has willingly given up a genre that he helped to create in favor of pursuing ambient music with pagan roots. Upon listening to “Sôl austan, Mâni vestan,” it is incredibly apparent that Vikernes has taken an entirely different direction in his sound. This is not black metal infused ambient, like Alcest, Wolves in the Throne Room, or In the Woods …, but purely atmospheric, which is both its charm and downfall.

It is an understandable transition that Vikernes has made, albeit drastic. Musicians must grow throughout the span of their career and he has made it known that he is not leaving heavy metal this time out of distaste but, rather, because his “pagan spirit” has led him to write his music this way. His use of Old Norse for the titles is a wonderful addition, which plays on the Nordic and pagan themes that he is presenting. The album clearly outlines his intentions to portray more traditional and folk-oriented music but, unfortunately, it is a passive and slow-paced journey with little variation.

Vikernes has incorporated tribal elements from pagan religious/spiritual constructs and rituals to make this album an interesting experience. The soft undertones of guitar are beautifully placed amongst keyboards and soft hand drums. Synthesizer plays an incredibly big role in the music and is prevalent in each track, for the better or worse. Though there are some appealing instrument samples through the synthesizer, it still seems overdone because it is the bulk of the album. Without any vocals or guitar parts to break the monotony, the repetitive parts drone on. This is not to discredit Vikernes’ abilities with song composition. He is an experienced songwriter with a lot of talent, but that cannot save this release.

“Sôl austan, Mâni vestan” is dull and tends to run together in an infinite loop. The tracks are not particularly distinguishable from one another and, as such, lull the listener into an atmospheric haze. Outstanding pieces are few and far between and the album, instead, plays more like a single song. Within the entire Burzum catalogue, this is by far the most forgettable and disappointing.

Track List Line Up
01. Sôl austan
02. Rûnar munt þû finna
03. Sôlarrâs
04. Haugaeldr
05. Feðrahellir
06. Sôlarguði
07. Ganga At Sôlu
08. Hið
09. Heljarmyrkr
10. Mâni Vestan
11. Sôlbjörg
Varg Vikernes – All instruments