Belus is the twisted son created by Varg Vikernes, the mastermind behind the black-metal, heavily-anticipated, long-winded band, Berzum. Originally sprung in the music industry as a producer of his own low-budget, ambient and deathly focused sounding records that Vikernes himself went onto stating, “wanted the worst recording quality possible”. The lo-fidelity works of art slowly marches their way into the mainstream and Vikernes found a mainstream level of attention after a controversy of murder trials, convictions, arson cases, and eventual jail time. Through the continuous ups and downs with Vikernes own personal life, Berzum has remained a statement in music history as a prime example of how one singular person can accomplish something truly daunting and inspiring.
Belus is the first record coming from Vikernes after his release from a sixteen-year sentence, with the gloves finally off and a return to more than just synthesizers, Berzum can finally flourish and become a more polished, but still impactful journey through the heavily-wooded, under cover hills of what was to become Belus. The atmospheric measures taken to enclose the sound and feeling behind Belus is incredible, and Vikernes spares no expenses when using handmade introductory instruments to create these creeping instrumentals that slither between the cracks of Belus. On the opening track, “i. Lukans Renkespill (Introduksjon)” Vikernes begins with clasping pieces of what sound similar to bottles to get a subtle, but building level of atmospheric focused layering that then leads directly into “ii. Belus Doed”, the first fully-sprung track on Belus.
The shrill of the guitars, the pounding of the incoming crash cymbals, and the relentless pounding on the percussion brings a smile to the face and sudden rush to the brain. Relentlessness is a word that Berzum focuses on with Belus and the crushing nature of the instrumentals when paired with the mostly growling vocal production, makes for a match only made in hell. Even with every single instrument, every key being played, every lyric being sung by a single person, Vikernes still manages to create both similarities in the chord progression and a distance within himself. It is almost as if he works with a gravitational pull to dissect the production of Belus, creating an album that features both old and new styles of black metal music. The constant pounding is a prominent staple in black metal, but the varied style of singing and the cleaner production feels fresh to longtime Berzum fans and newcomers alike. The sense of depth within the fifty-two-minute experience is exciting, with many morose layers to dig through, while still keeping a consistent pace of rushed thrills.
Even through later tracks, both “vi. Keilohesten” and the final track, “viii. Belus’ Tilbakenkomst (Konklusjon)”, Berzum is a conquering mess of sound that illustrates a greater sense of sinking depression and animosity with each continual step. An intense sense of dread is overcome with a fascination to hear more, to learn more, and to take the leap into the greater unknown of Berzum’s Belus. The additional pieces of the puzzle that string everything together and make Belus a wonderful album are present till the very end; the droning guitar that finally seems to take a break from the near-nonstop crushing. The percussion that finally eases its steps and allows a re-catching of the breath, and the final inevitable silence that drowns out any and all noises from Vikernes, a fitting and well endowed ending to a long-awaited return of the Lord of the Basal.