Something bubbles up from the ground, something dark, something intense, something that might reach under your skin and pull your face flesh right off. What could this something be? Oh yes, of course, it is the new Burzum album “Belus”, which brings Varg Vikernes back to his old solo project after eleven years. True Varg has gone through some tough times but none of that really matters here, what matters is that Burzum has a new album and by the end of its fifty two minutes the record will own your balls.
What does this new Burzum sound like? A demon migraine? A gothic feedback opera? The soundtrack of the moment between when everything is okay and you realize you’re about to die? It could be any of these things to me but when you hear it you’ll pull something new from the sounds.
That’s what makes Burzum so awesome, it’s an artistic expression that attaches itself to what you want it to mean. Technically this is an opus about the god Belus and his trip through Hell. You can take it for face value or you can look deeper and see where you fit into the music.
Sonically this is Black Metal but Black Metal made to be taken seriously. Created within a real studio with good equipment. Thanks to that the high-end, consistently driving guitars and pounding drum rhythms come through. Belus isn’t that tinny and unappealing standard Black Metal sound, something like thirty billion gnats arguing through a megaphone. Instead Belus is clean and layered so you can hear all of the various guitars sounds and small dramatic vocal elements Varg adds.
There’s also a groove to this, a slow moving wave of riffage that pulls you along. Imagine if Immortal covered Fu Manchu songs. I’m not saying it’s that but there’s a distinct vibe to the groove of Belus that gives it real weight. Sure the music slices through you like a sword but it also crushes you like a stone the Gods couldn’t lift. This is some of Burzum’s best work in a long time.
Like the subject matter the album Belus is a massive undertaking and one that must be listened to all the way through. Burzum has this ability, even at its scariest moments, to lift you up and transport you to another place. Experiencing that can’t be done if you have the album on shuffle or you try to pick the best song. Burzum demands that you listen to Belus all the way through, there is no stopping, just experience it and shut up.
Are you a better person when the album finishes? I think so, or at least a smarter person on what Black Metal can do if not squandered by make up and creepy forest pretenses. Varg and his black-hearted creation Burzum have taken what they do and elevated it in terms of songwriting and production. Belus is not only a great nod to the mystical but also to how artistically beautiful extreme music can be if handled correctly.
CRAVEONLINE RATING: 8.5 Out Of 10
HYDRA HEAD RECORDS
Remember the term “Lock Up Your Daughters”? Well that saying would never apply to the band Daughters and their new self-titled album. This music is frayed nerves, manic, and dark but with a touch of the circus that I dug. I don’t mean circus music just that same frantic energy that comes when the lions step up or a trapeze artist stars flipping around with no net. For lack of a better idea Daughters turns the whole fight-or-flight syndrome into music. None of what’s going on in this album makes sense but I don’t think it’s really supposed to.
Daughters play high pitched, piercing guitar rock that lands somewhere between grindcore and the old AmRep bands. Imagine The Jesus Lizard on speed trying to calm it down with high-end weed.
All of the instruments here seem to blend together and create waves of music that roll into one another. At times the work can feel truly emotional while at others it’s just a straight kick to your nuts. Everything Daughters plays is huge but not epic, more like a massive wall of sound.
The vocals here are interesting because they’re mixed into what’s happening musically, more of an addition than a headpiece. Do you know what the singer is saying? No, and you probably won’t care.
Interestingly enough I wouldn’t think he’d care either. Half the vocals are little sounds or screams or weird noises. I’m all for anybody who realizes maybe vocals aren’t the most important thing and just tosses into the sound of the band.
This isn’t music for the faint of heart or those looking for some kind of dynamic break. Daughters’ are consistently fast, constantly abrasive and always noodling. Half the record sounds as if the band made it up as they went along. I’m sure it takes a lot of planning to sound this fucking off the wall and hear, hear, my hat is off to these boys for doing it so well. At times what Daughters’ does becomes overbearing and drifts into self-indulgence but it always snaps right back.
I’ve long lamented for a return of the AmRep style bands. The bands that married noise, feedback, art rock and punk into an amalgam that reduced music to it’s rawest form while pushing it as far out as it could go. I don’t think Daughters are there yet but they are certainly on their way. It takes guts to make music that most people will find irritating or scary or both.
Without bands like this people can’t make headway into new arenas and music starts to decay and die. Daughters have slapped on their miners hats, grabbed picks and headed into the dark shaft of the future with great enthusiasm. They stumble, they fall, but they get right back up and start digging. Daughters may not be the future of music but I guarantee they will be listed as the inspiration to the band that is.
CRAVEONLINE RATING: 8 Out Of 10