An 11-year hiatus from Varg Vikernes, better known as the mastermind behind the Norwegian black metal band, Burzum finally breached back onto the scene with Belus. Releasing multiple albums from confinement, Burzum controlled the immediately noticeable low-quality recording sound that was masked by the makings of well put-together and diverse tracks.
From the opening moments of the bottles clicking together on finger tips, or the final moments of ambient droning noise; Belus holds these otherworldly sounds in one complete shifted package. It is as daunting and interesting as it was when it was released back in 2010, stemming just over the 50-minute mark. With moments as crushing as “ii. Belus Doed” to the uplifting and almost silence of “viii. Belus’ Tilbakekomst (Konklusjon)”, Burzum holds a tight grip on the listener’s attention and continues to manage both the subtly and destructive nature that made him so engaging.
As all the instruments are handled and performed by Vikernes, there leaves little to no room for outside distraction or contamination. Belus is a free-flowing, stream of consciousness that works to elaborate on some of the darkness that Vikernes expressed before. It is a direct extension of the inner-senses of his creative effort that branches off and tries a similar approach to black metal. His vocals are progressively different however, reaching for more witch shrills than the standard growls of his previous music. This style change is welcome as it allows Burzum to illustrate a twisted and warped sense of his musical past.
With the following tracks “iv. Kaimadalthas Nedstigning” and “v. Sverddans”, there is a sudden dive that moves into this deep, dark water of aggression and aggravation. These two tracks capture this old spirit of Burzum that was surrounded by these overpowering movements and waves of the dead sea. But it is with that death there is a rebirth and that follows with the form of “vii. Morgenroede” which is more uplifting and features a slowed, more approachable sound. It is still as lo-fi as ever, bringing that basement recording to the forefront. But with the focus shifting on being melodic chords rather than a pit of flames, Belus shows two sides of a similar coin.
Making the way from murder, to prison, to release and now redemption, Belus is as diverse today as it was nearly ten years ago. With a focus on creating an occult and distorted grasp on reality; Burzum makes quick work on one of the best records coming from his discography to date.