Burzum is a solo musical project created by Louis Cachet, who is professionally known as Varg Vikernes. Burzum was created in 1991 as a black metal project and would later come to be known as one of the most influential figures in black metal; especially in the Norwegian scene where it was most common at the time.
Black metal is a subgenre of heavy metal music. Generally tempos in this style are very fast, vocals are akin to shrieking, and guitars are made to sound heavy and distorted while recorded with more raw audio.
The word Burzum comes from the fictional language known as “black speech” created by author J.R.R. Tolkien in his Lord of the Rings series. The word itself means “darkness.” Burzum never played at live shows. Instead, Varg was more interested in the music rather than the energy and popularity that came with performing live and releasing the material to the masses, despite having played in other local metal bands around the time. While
Burzum’s music did live up to the general criteria of what makes black metal black metal, there was also a level of ambiance thrown into the mix, where some songs would be more calm and have a certain level of depth and sound that others did not possess. A great example of this is the song Tomhet off of the 1994 album titled: Hvis Lyset Tar Oss. It is entirely instrumental and more calm in comparison to the other songs on the album, for example, Det Som en Gang Var, which has constant fast paced riffs and vocals with an agonized screaming style to them.
Burzum’s lyrical content and imagery is often in reference to fantasy and norse mythology. While having more straight forward aspects of black metal, there are also elements of “dark ambient,” “neofolk,” and “neo-medieval” music. Despite Vikernes’ controversial political views, he was careful not to implement them into the music, afraid that they would take away from the greater meaning of it.
Personally, I enjoy Burzum because of ambient and black metal aspects of the music that it provides. Usually, the music is a hit or miss for most people; you either like it or you don’t. I enjoy the background hidden ambiance while also being able to hear interesting vocals and heavy guitar riffs at the same time. I think that in its own right, Burzum is quite unique and a one of a kind project. If I had to give a top 3 of my favorite albums, they’d go as follows, with the first being the best in my opinion: Filosofem, Aske, and Det Som Engang Var.