Burzum - Sol austan, Mani vestan
Byelobog Productions
11 songs (58:05)
Release year: 2013
Reviewed by Goat

If there’s a word that I keep coming back to when considering this, the tenth full-length released under the Burzum name, it’s ‘boring’. Boring. Boo-oor-ing. Which it shouldn’t be, being part of the latest project from Norway’s craziest black metaller – an artsy documentary about ancient bear cults called ‘ForeBears’ that Varg put together with his wife. Yet somehow, Sôl austan, Mâni vestan (‘east of the sun, west of the moon’) manages to be painfully dull. Electronic with acoustic strums and gentle percussion, the music is sweeping waves of ambience with simplistic backing beats. In other words, this is a return to the days of prison Burzum; fans of Dauði Baldrs and Hliðskjálf, eat your heart out. It’s not as amateurish and dull (word to the wise; I am not a fan of prison Burzum) as those albums, fortunately, but it has the same structure of simple themes repeated ad infinitum.

Moments here and there are likeable enough, mainly because Varg now has the resources to make this sound half-decent. The opening Sôl austan’s echoing tolls and spacey-sounding effects sets the scene nicely and would have made for a decent intro piece on a different album, for example. Rûnar munt þû finna focuses more on percussion with a bassy heartbeat and simple new-age-y melody, and nearly works as a folk-tinged piece of ambience. Sôlarrâs, on the other hand, sounds and feels like filler, and from then on you’re caught between half-hearing snatches of brilliance (I’ll be very generous and say that Heljarmyrkr’s Hawkwind-esque swooshes were interesting for a few seconds…) and gritting your teeth through the rest, like all bad ambient music. The genre walks a knife’s edge between boredom and brilliance at the best of times – and given the already patchy reputation of Varg’s electronic music, few will be excited to hear this, or indeed excited by it. It falls flat, repeating pointless melodies that seemingly all lacking the stirring spirit of his best ambient moments, let alone the hypnotic quality that makes you sit and listen to them rather than skipping forward (Rundgang um die Transzendentale Säule der Singularität, take a bow).

Obviously, that this is the score to a film and that I’m not watching Varg’s family pretending to be cavemen means that I’m missing out on the intended visuals meant to go along with the music. You’ll note, however, that the title of this album is not ‘ForeBears – Official Score’ but ‘Sôl austan, Mâni vestan’. Varg has released this as a Burzum album in the knowledge that it will be placed alongside the previous Burzum albums and judged accordingly. He knows full well, and probably doesn’t care, that people are going to be listening to this expecting a follow-up to Fallen and Umskiptar, and are going to be disappointed. There was even a recent statement from Varg that he’s done with metal, and after the tired-sounding Umskiptar, I can well believe it. Whatever I, you, or anyone else says, the man is going to do his own thing and to hell with everyone else, and that’s his right. All we can do is judge the results, and when faced with Sôl austan, Mâni vestan, all we can really do is feel disappointed. Disappointed, and bored.

Killing Songs :
It’s a stretch, but Sôl austan
Goat quoted 40 / 100
Other albums by Burzum that we have reviewed:
Burzum - The Ways of Yore reviewed by Andy and quoted 69 / 100
Burzum - Umskiptar reviewed by Goat and quoted 68 / 100
Burzum - From The Depths Of Darkness reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
Burzum - Fallen reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 100
Burzum - Belus reviewed by Goat and quoted 81 / 100
To see all 12 reviews click here
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