First of all, I want to start the review by making it clear that I do not support the views of Varg Vikernes in any way, shape or form in relation to racism, religion or pretty much anything I have ever heard him spout. The reason I am making this clear is that I feel that it is necessary to make a clear division between Varg the artist and Varg the individual.
Varg the individual is a convicted criminal and murderer who is also a racist. However, Varg the artist makes some absolutely unbelievably beautiful music that is without equal in the metal community. It’s a pity that someone this talented could be this narrow minded, but like all forms of art, sometimes the art is beautiful, while the artist is an asshole.
It would be hard for me to believe that any metal fan in their right mind could actually say that Burzum was not hugely influential in the scene. The reason why is because the guy makes some great music. His output in the 90s inspired hordes of black metal bands and helped to make the genre what it is today. Since he was released from prison a few years ago, he has continued to make mind-boggling great music that in my opinion ranks with his older stuff.
Varg’s last album “Fallen” was one of my favorite albums last year and coming into Umskiptar I was worried that he may not be able to top the album. “Fallen” in my opinion was almost flawless at times: both hooky, yet beautiful at the same time.
So, how does this album measure up? Is it as good as “Fallen” or any of Varg’s classic albums for that matter? The answer is: Sort-of. Umskiptar is quite a departure from Varg’s earlier work: It’s metal for sure, but a different kind of metal. Varg had stated that the vocal work would be more emphasized in this album and it definitely is. While past albums focused mainly on inducing a mood and creating beautiful soundscapes with instruments, this album does so more with vocals. Most of the songs are also slower paced and not as heavy making it quite different from past albums.
As the majority of the songs are over 5 minutes long, with many approaching 1o minutes, the album may be a bit of a slog for some. The rest who stick through will be rewarded with one of the best albums of the year: A finely crafted album that can both sooth and horrify, uplift and terrify. Check the album out. I am damned impressed that even though the album is so different from his past works, it still comes off as genius.
4. Hit helga Tré
9. Surtr Sunnan
Varg Vikernes – All instruments, vocals