Monday, February 28, 2011


The Boris deluge of 2011 begins with this uneartherd collaboration recording with Merzbow. Originally recorded a few years back and slated for release on the now presumably dead Troubleman Unlimited label, "Klatter" finds all the players inhabiting a much more psychedelic, open sort of spaciousness where noise becomes gentle and damn near calming, reducing the rock elements to a mere landscape upon which all the principals wander aimlessly. It's damn near pastoral, pushing away the more abrasive elements that both acts so easily summon up in their own worlds. It's fairly amazing to me that most of the Boris/Merzbow collaborations veer in this more relaxed direction; aside from the quintessential double live recording "Rock Dream" from a couple years ago (which i consider to be the absolute best Boris album) everything they do together seems to distill itself into a reflective definition of sonic terrorism. Oftentimes these are rock songs, with "Klatter" being no exception, but they're so removed from any sort of sense of danger or immediacy that they become something else entirely, a sort of noise mood music, i guess, or maybe something closer to Windham Hill for HNW fans.
Similar in presentation to 2005's "04092001" LP, "Klatter" is a tear-through of a couple Boris tracks and two "new" compositions crafted specifically for this release. The songs differ little from their actual versions other than having Merzbow shred away on some electronics and computers over the top of everything but it does create the idea of the songs themselves being ripped away from their actual structures and conceptions and in some instances i feel the version with Merzbow have been stronger than the actual "official" takes found on the albums proper. "Naki Kyoku," for instance, becomes positively oceanic in scope and mass, stretching the song's original three minute length to almost 15 and rendering it totally washed out, a hypnotic nodding trip off into the void with Wata's echoey guitar leads meandering into a shimmery burbling nowhere. "Akuma No Uta" rocks as hard as it ever did and gives way into the belching goop of "Jane," a 13 minute ride down a ribbon of caramel drone, all thick, sweet and unforgivably viscous.
This is Boris doing what they do best: constant reinvention and manipulation. What they get out of Merzbow is more texture, an ability to showcase a different facet of their sound that's always been there but often recedes due to the demands and constraints of rock-oriented songwriting (this assessment is applicable only when Boris are choosing to work in that form, obviously). While not all of these collaborations have been total successes, they're always interesting and worthwhile for any ears so inclined. Merzbow diehards will probably be disappointed by the submissive role he seems to take on "Klatter" but if you need something harsher you could always track down his onslaught with the Men of Porn (which is really fucking great). For me it's another excuse to revisit one of my very favorite bands.

Saturday, February 19, 2011


A black metal band sharing members with the hyper-prolific Thou, Barghest come from a completely different space sonically, a marriage of hypnotically fast raw black metal tinged with rusty barbs of of aching melodicism and dreary yearn. So much has been made of Thou's relation to New Orleans that it becomes difficult not to mention it in relation to Barghest as well, but whereas Thou drag their listeners through the greying mucked up waste of Baton Rouge and sour them with dumptrucks full of depressive torment, Barghest highlight the sick neon violence and drunken malicious revelry of the Big Easy, showing a city of gleaming knives around every corner and an infinite, cracking system of streets stretched out forever. This is a physical record, heightened by the simple, distant quality of the recording.
For a practice session this record is amazingly well-played, as though the members were giving it their most honest attempt at crafting a demo. Why this release isn't official in some capacity is beyond me because it's fucking amazing. Six massive, epic songs ranging anywhere from 5 minutes to near 13, Barghest come off like Gorgoroth crossed with the more melodic side of Les Legions Noire. It's raw and unrefined but possessed with an elegiac elegance and a magisterial sort of forlornness found only in the deepest French underground. These comparisons are made not for hyperbolic illustration but rather to define the quality of the music found here. This is one of the most accomplished sets of pure, raging USBM that i've heard in a longtime and while the influences are apparent Barghest rework them into something uniquely North American, with an emphasis on the feelings of decay and regret that tend to inhabit the output of bands from this side of the ocean. Perhaps we're too far into a new decade for black metal to truly hearken back to the rebellious outbreaks of Norwegian violence, and maybe USBM in particular is too infected with post-everything to really stake a claim to a piece of the true black metal legacy, but bands like Barghest are giving it a tremendous, throat-ripping effort. This is angry, haunted, devastating rage. Violence can shred time as easily as it can shred guitar strings and Barghest take that notion and lay utter waste to the concepts they're exploring. For me, this destroys everything that Thou has ever committed, or ever will commit, to tape. Maybe i'm being unfair, especially since the two embody different genres so strikingly. But if less Thou meant more Barghest i'd be all for a little less sludge in the Orleans and a lot more blood-soaked dirt and dust. Obviously this is recommended.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Latest missive from this Bone Awl offshoot, existing a mere arm's length away from the parent project both ideologically and sonically. I'm not quite sure how i feel about Raspberry Bulbs. I love the absurdity of the name when taken in context of the style of music but there's really nothing else here. Or is there? This is simple, cut to the quick ultra primal black metal that sounds exactly like Bone Awl. Fidelity is the same, pacing is the same, vocals are the same, guitar riffs are almost the same-the only differing factor here is the inaudibility of the drums. They're buried so far down in the mix i initially thought time was being kept simply by the percussive attack on the guitar.
I'm not sure i understand why these weren't just presented as Bone Awl songs. Both projects wrap themselves in obscurity and vague chiaroscuro and both seem to favor a hazy worldview enveloped in existential philosophy and a confounding elitism that speaks to black metal's distance better than many of their contemporaries. I've heard said that Raspberry Bulbs speaks to a more punk orientation, a purposeful simplicity and obvious stripping down to achieve some sort of aggression through amputation. The riffs and song structures certainly constrain themselves into a weird blur of black metal and d-beat, existing in both genres but indicative of neither, boasting an almost amateurish simplicity if they weren't so well-played. But simplicity for simplicity's sake doesn't always work. Maybe that's what's confusing me most in my feelings towards this demo. I love Bone Awl but Raspberry Bulbs don't really do all that much for me. I like hearing drums on a black metal record. There's more than that, but when your music is composed of two main brutal elements it behooves you to make sure both are audible. Force is necessary to a project like this and while the fidelity conveys some of it, the admittedly thrashing guitar abuse isn't enough to push everything through. In the back of my mind i wonder if i'm missing something about this project. Maybe the emptiness i'm feeling is the intent. Maybe this ambivalence i feel towards the three songs here is indicative of Raspberry Bulbs' extension of Bone Awl's removal. My interest is piqued and further exploration of the catalogue is warranted, if only to understand what's all going on here. I can only hope the upcoming LP on Hospital will illuminate this band's murky transmissions. Recommended...?

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Endurance testing 74 minute wall of noise by an ensemble boasting two drummers, three guitars and a swarm of electronics. This is the same line-up that recorded Jazkamer's epic forays into progressive black metal (at least i think) but it's metal in an interpretative sense only, and then very loosely if at all. It's fucking heavy, and it has a bleak aura of punishment buzzing around it like flies to a putrid mountain of discarded flesh, but it's utterly without form and structure. It's one hulking, stinking mass of sound meant to willfully dominate and force understanding.
There's two major touchstones here. One is Skullflower-the eruptions found within are distinctly Bower-esque in nature but the relentless onslaught of drums forces some sort of detachment from the influence. A keener sense of appropriation is felt by considering the recent box set by Merzbow, "13 Japanese Birds." Here Merzbow went right for the throat and unleashed not only the typical torrents of tape/feedback decimation but also a battery of free drums, creating an atmosphere of heavy metal meltdown. Jazkamer have taken this sound to heart and turned in what may as well have been the 14th installment. It doesn't make it any less enjoyable in my eyes, nor does it diminish its impact-it's just where this music is coming from.
Two untitled compositions, a blasting inferno of noise grandeur and pure electric self-indulgence. The drums on this record are insane, flying everywhere, placed in all sorts of places in the headphone mix. You are completely surrounded by percussion. Layers of crust and grit and belched up free-form detritus surface incessantly but it's the drums that dominate, forcing you to pay attention and eliminating any hope for subtle transcendence. This album exists only in the now, its immediacy rivaled equally by its ferocity, demanding your engagement. This is the focus for the entire time you've got it on. Everything else disappears, recedes, decays, drops away. This is nullification. This is purification. These are the cleansing flames of rebirth and a whitewash of memory. It's a seventy four minute sonic lobotomy. I'm looking to get my hands on the second album of metal theatrics from this lineup to see the contrast but for now this is as metal as it can get, really. The idea of metal is sometimes more important than the actual sound. You've got to truly appreciate the genre to make it work, but for the few capable hands constructing it (for the few ears capable of really getting it) this is total worship and dedication. Jazkamer are one of the few noise projects able to dip this deep into the fetid pools of rock and emerge with consistently worthwhile material. Call it blackened prog-noise, call it sheer thrash abstractionism, whatever- this shit is awesome. Heavily recommended for anyone into Merzbow, Kevin Drumm or Abruptum.

Monday, February 7, 2011


Third album from Quebec's premier trance-inducing black metal nationalists. On their last two records Forteresse used blinding speed and a heavy cloak of obfuscating foggy atmospherics to create a feeling of time being slowed to molasses like viscosity, a juggernaut of blurring motion that totally overwhelmed the listener and whisked them away to some farther and age and place. The tasteful interjection of old Quebecois folk music recordings betwixt the icy blasts of black metal only heightened the sense of removal from the now and put forth an obvious ideology, a reverence for heritage that was both austere and alienating.
On the new record Forteresse take the exact opposite approach and slow things down to a plodding outer space like tempo, taking all the time they need to reach the exact same mind-wiping astral plane that speed has always achieved. This is some truly cosmic stuff, blessed with a vastness and a near infinite level open-ended expanse that seems to stretch on for a thousand eternities, constantly unfolding and opening as it hurtles towards the frigid ends of time and physicality. It's similar in sonics to other winter waste acts like the mighty Paysage d'Hiver or, from a strictly atmospheric perspective, Wold-this is the center of a blizzard, replete with all the violence and whipping wind you'd associate with the coldest Canadian nights. Guitars and keyboards blend seamlessly into one thick, mighty river of swooning melody, rolling in like storm clouds over the pastoral fields, drowning the lands in a yearning, mournful sorrow, an elegiac lament for times long since past, a call for recognition and reassimilation of older values into the void of modernity. The drums hold back for the majority of the record, content to drive the songs slowly towards their majestic conclusions. Blast beats and the endless parades of double bass that Forteresse have always used so masterfully are kept to a minimum throughout, unleashed only at key moments to maximize the brain-hammering drop out of this record. The folk recordings are replaced by smaller windows of ambient filler serving as stopgaps between the tracks proper and therein lies the record's one weakness when compared to the previous two-those old field recordings were magic, a dust from the past that totally dragged the listener into their world and helped magnify the point Forteresse were trying to make. The quality of the music hasn't diminished in the least on "Par Hauts..." but the interjections of heritage history are sorely missed.
Overall this is another epic piece of black metal symphonics, a crushing wave of bitter nostalgiah and an ode to callous winter midnights. Forteresse absolutely crucify these pieces, showcasing the best Quebecois black metal has to offer and easily standing next to contemporary masters of the time-warp like Epheles, Weakling and Fanisk. This is total obliteration rendered with temperance and thought, floating on poisoned wings to deliver portents of decay to a technologically opiated mass. There's a cost to modern existence, a steady growth of narcissism and the slow death of common sense and decency that accompanies full immersion. Forteresse and other bands have chosen to combat this by removing themselves as much as possible from society and issuing transmissions for those few ears still able to receive them and process the anti-assimilation messages they contain. For those tuned in it's a glorious, heavenly sound.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

I'M IN A COFFIN "ONE FINAL ACTION" (Self Mutilation Services)

This is a weird one. I'm not sure whether to take this seriously or not because everything about it seems falsified, blown up for maximum illustration and beating you over the head with its obviousness. This is suicidal black metal in every regard, and it's a perfect example of bedroom black metal, but it's also very hard not to look at this as a joke played on the genre because I'm In A Coffin are so over the top and embody every cliche that i'm left wondering if there's anything really here.
The music is certainly appropriate to the style. It's dirging, mournfully melodic, incredibly lo-fi and weaves an atmosphere of extreme depression around itself. It's very blown out, particularly the bass, which more often than not becomes the lead instrument on these songs, leading the rest of the composition down its twisting tar-drenched path to sublimation. The vocals too are given over to howling extremities, bearing all the hallmarks-banshee wails, sections of weeping and sobbing, otherworldy screams from far distant places-yet i just get the feeling this isn't meant to be received in any serious sort of way.
Mostly it's the lyrics. They're just too insipidly stupid, blunt and prominent for me to think they're anything other than some guy who knows this music taking the piss out of it for fun. No matter how depressed you were, i think you'd be just a tad more poetic in conveying your sorrows. Here are a few examples: "i stand at the edge and weep...until i'm wrist deep in depression," "my only companions are mourning and self-hatred, my lover misery," "i must die today, tonight i will be gone, alone and dead," "i want to die alone and cold." And on it goes. The best projects working in this subgenre wrap the feelings up in something a little cloudier, leaving room for both empathy and interpretation. The shit here is something a fifteen year old would write, and given the relative maturity with which the music is executed i see something a little more tongue in cheek going on with I'm In A Coffin.
The record is also put out by Self Mutilation Services, a difficult label upon which to affix any sort of ideological intent. Everything they release straddles the line between grimly serious and ridiculously comical, embracing both suicide and self-parody in equal measure. I'm In A Coffin exists as a perfect illustration of that dichotomy, exuding something equally repellent and attractive. So do i like this? The easy answer is yes. Even though it forces me to look at the absurdity of the genre and therefore devalues previous contributions by other artists through able mimicry, i enjoy the actual sounds the band has vomited out. There's something eerie here, as though perhaps by so fully immersing themselves in the genre I'm In A Coffin can't help but take on some of the more subliminal characteristics of suicidal black metal. They're familiar with it, most certainly, and the samples they use to punctuate the admittedly obvious themes of the work are well chosen and at times a little flesh-crawling. It's a creepy ambience, and i think anyone deeply into suicidal BM needs to at least here this record to make their own assessment of it. Whatever else it is, it's a challenge and it's thought-provoking-both qualities missing from a lot of music, regardless of genre. Recommended.


Incredibly short (32 minutes) 2010 album from Celestia, purifying their romantic yearnings into a melancholic and ultimately bittersweet sojourn to the dripping broken heart of black metal. Celestia was one of the very first projects to embrace what could be thought of as a shoegaze sound and i feel that much of the modern black metal enjoying crossover success and critical claim (i.e. Alcest, Woe, etc) owe much to Noktu's baroque and weeping interpretation of BM art.
Unabashedly melodic, Celestia turn in another example of what they do so well. I found 2008's "Frigidiis Apotheosia" to be a somewhat distant record, more clinical in its delivery with little of the rawness that characterizes Noktu's best work in any of his many projects. "Archaenae Perfectii" is a return to form, a flowery bloom of gorgeous rotting riffage and near post-rock levels of guitar grandeur. This isn't Mogwai by any stretch but it's quite lovely, and the simple juxtaposition of all that melody played against Noktu's poisonous rasping vocals paints an incredibly effective portrait of aristocratic disdain and removal, a slow and airy walk through all the blackened mists of time's end and the garden of regret. Celestia trades on nostalgia both musically and aesthetically, referencing ruined loves of the past while forcing black metal's ongoing war with/embrace of melody to the forefront. The viciousness and raw delivery scream out to black metal's embryonic stages even as the songwriting pushes it away. It's an extreme duality that Noktu exploits to its utmost. This is black metal by and for purists-you either get it or you don't.
That elitism is what's always made Celestia such an underground phenomenon. This is the guy that owns Drakkar Productions and if that name doesn't mean anything to you then Celestia is always going to be a bit elusive to your sensibilities. The only really bad thing thing about "Archaenae Perfectii" is that its composition seems to have taken a lot away from Noktu's other (and in some instances better) projects. I can only imagine the utter mediocrity of Mortifera's latest was largely because Noktu's been concentrating more on Celestia at the moment (or maybe Neige had a bigger hand in Mortifera than Noktu would care to admit.) So it goes with Gestapo 666 (all but disappeared), Genocide Kommando (broken up) and Sick (also broken up.) All of these projects had merit and a distinct viewpoint while remaining obviously tied to one underlying aesthetic-an unrelenting sorrow and a vampiric yearning, violence tied to bruises tied to a beauty both wonderful and pornographic. Celestia summons all of that dizzying sadness effortlessly, but it's cost seems to be the artistic bankrupting of its sole creator. I'd sacrifice all of Celestia's back catalogue for another Mortifera album as heart-breakingly gorgeous as "Vastiia Tenebrd Mortifera," but that's romance of a different sort altogether.


Shredding dusty orthodox black metal. The personnel behind this project wish to remain anonymous but the rumour is that Ascension contains one or more members of the mighty German Katharsis and the music on "Consolamentum" more than bears the mark. Like Katharsis this is extremely thrash inspired black metal, like a fusion of primal Slayer and early Gorgoroth resulting in a potent mix reminiscent of the earlier days of Deathspell Omega or Antaeus. Such comparisons may seem lofty or biased but this is incredibly accomplished black metal, emerging from a deeper, festering place both musically and philosophically, allowing Ascension to easily step into the circle of black metal's obliquely elite and hold sway.
As crusted over as the sound is it's ultra-fast and played with fiery precision. Everything is chromaticism and trills and the pace rarely becomes anything less than blasting. When it does it's more to lend an introspective air to the song rather than any sort of reprieve. Everything follows the previous thing, every statement made succinctly and with economy. The whole affair has a heavy death metal vibe to me even if the music doesn't agree; i simply could not shake the atmospheric similarity to the early '90's Florida scene. The obvious touchstone would be Deicide's "Amon-Feasting the Beast", with both records reveling in hyper-speed hymns to the fallen angel, drenched in reverb and crackling over with dirt and ghostly echoes. Both bands also treaded a thin line between serious insight and self-parodying hyperbole, but while Deicide have fallen hard into the latter category with a spate of uninspired releases across the last two decades Ascension come across as both deathly frightening and eerily prophetic. There's an air of mysticism to this record that goes beyond its interest in satanic pontification, a questioning of all religious philosophy and belief shared amongst most of the better othodox black metal bands. This isn't evil for evil's sake-these guys know their shit and want you to start thinking about it in a more intellectual way. It isn't just "fuck god"-it's everything past that.
The violent approach of the music is a mere conveyance for the delivery of the philosophy. I'm reminded heavily of the credo adorning the back of Hell Militia's first album: mutilate your flesh to widen your sight. It's an idea i fell in love almost immediately, for both its graphic suggestion as well as the inherent truth in that suggestion. Pain and violence are the simplest tools we have at our disposal to begin to reach into the beyond. Tapping into pain, be it physical or emotional, yields an insight and a level of reflection that we're mostly incapable of when we're in our natural state. Ascension's choice to destroy at 1000 mph is the sonic equivalent rendered into black metal form. The production value adds to this by creating an extra layer of strain to work through in order to appreciate and understand everything that's being thrown towards you. The violence is the vehicle, the music is the truth.
While Katharsis are more or less orthodox as well, they don't take it to this level of seriousness. Katharsis also extol a number of radical stances regarding nationalism and substance abuse, distilling whatever subconscious message they might hope to convey through their music. Ascension succeed by delivering the questions, using the velocity of the music to inspire an aura of inward reflection, a rapid fire blur of punishment designed to invoke something transcendent in the listener. Katharis operate on a much more base (but no less enjoyable) level, using violence and speed to approach a level of hypnotic less-ness, a separation from consciousness and thinking owing more to an altered state than an altered way of thinking. Ascension are not for the close minded, either musically or ideologically. "Consolamentum" stands as a triumph of BM orthodoxy, as well as one of the most violent musical frenzies of the year. Recommended for anyone into Antaeus, Aosoth or the whole Norma Evangelium Diaboli camp-simply excellent.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


Having to live in the shadow of another band you're in must be terribly difficult, especially when the other band garners ridiculous amounts of critical acclaim. Clandestine Blaze is the more personal project of Deathspell Omega vocalist Mikko Aspa and is worlds away from the blackened prog insanity of Deathpell's existential religious inquiries. Clandestine Blaze also dates back much further, boasting a ridiculous discography and a number of excellent compilation appearances, mostly curated by Mikko himself for his outstanding Northern Heritage label. The label name is as good a summation as any for what Clandestine Blaze have been trying to accomplish across their low profile existence-crude and simplistic black metal heavily indebted to Darkthrone and ideologically aligned with the nationalism of Burzum or Nargaroth.
Clandestine Blaze's albums have always been about half and half for me-on every record you're going to get about four great songs and four subpar pieces of filler. I'm usually okay with that ratio because when Mikko's on he's fucking on, tempering fury with melody for maximum efficacy and righteous headbanging rock and roll action (seriously, some of Clandestine Blaze's stuff is incredibly anthemic-just check out 2004's "Deliverers of Faith".) Unfortunately the reverse is unavoidably true as well-the filler material is pretty fucking awful which makes me all the sadder to report that "Falling Monuments" is probably the weakest effort i've heard from this project in about a decade. There are maybe five good riffs spread across the album's 42 minute runtime and it makes you wade through some serious songwriting muck and self indulgent abstractionism to find them. The worst parts are Mikko's attempts at slowing things down, using chromatic bludgeoning power chord riffs that would make Tony Iommi vomit all over his SG. It's just laughable and i struggle to find any sort of explanation as to how the quality could veer so far into the black. Maybe it's the compositional intensity that Deathspell Omega demands from all of its members, maybe it's that Mikko's just spread himself way too thin these days (playing in nine different bands is going to stretch anyone's creativity) or maybe it's just that Clandestine Blaze has run out of ways to say they're proud of being Finnish in any sort of meaningful manner. Either way, this is completely subpar and best avoided.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

BURZUM "FALLEN" (Byelobog Productions)

Appearing barely a year after the majestic "comeback" album "Belus" Burzum returns with the equally stunning "Fallen." One look at the cover art should give you an indication of where Varg's headed at this point: this is romantic, aristocratic black metal as far removed from the austere frigidity of "Filosofem" as it is from the primitive shadowy murk of "Aske." Easily standing as one of Burzum's most sophisticated and accomplished efforts musically, "Fallen" pushes Varg's vision into a new prism of hypnotic lull, emerging with something truly introspective and meditative.
This is still black metal in its truest form. All of Varg's trademarks stand up for appraisal and recognition, from the baroque minor key guitar arpeggios to the blinding emphasis on repetition and trance induction (all of the songs hover in the seven to ten minute range, allowing for maximum immersion.) What's gone is the idea of violence, replaced with a drawn out sort of musical contemplation. I'm tempted to use the word "pastoral" to describe "Fallen" as a whole because for me this record speaks of a journey across a vast and colourful, hyper-washed out stretch of flatland, like a highway that vanishes into itself as you gaze as far out as possible. As the record draws you in it completely envelops you, pulling you down deeper as it reveals its many, many layers. Guitars ring and drone in complex overlaid patterns, circling in on themselves in much the same manner as Jozef Van Wissem approaches his lute compositions. Backwards and forwards, ending and beginning, circular motion as an infinite allowance for interpretation. As Burzum progressed the idea became more about time-stretching, maybe even time obliteration, and on these tracks Varg succeeds in bending the constructs of headspace to a near breaking point. This is simply ultra-intense focused music for the mind fused to a black metal template.
Varg stated that for this record he attempted to give it more of classical feel and the songs seem to reflect that dedication to lengthy, referential composition and wholeness, standing as part of a longer 47 minute symphony than as individual songs. Each piece flows into the next. There are few jarring tempo changes, rather a methodical pacing supplemented by Varg's relentless, simplistic drumming. Even the blasting parts come across as hypnotic, their inherent fury tempered by the record's desire to caress rather than bludgeon. Whereas "Belus" was a hodgepodge of songs written across a space of ten years or more, "Fallen" is a complete, enclosed work obviously composed in a set time frame with a set mind of influence. This is Burzum now, the future obliterating the past, with Varg beginning to truly work off of the ideas put forth in "Filosofem" even as he pushes that record further and further into the background. There's a beauty and gentleness here that has never surfaced in Burzum's work. Varg explored some of these textures on "Belus" but here the loveliness is allowed to surface more prominently. A goodly chunk of the vocals on "Fallen" are spoken or sung clean, creating a deeper feeling of intimacy and weariness and, at times, eeriness. Varg's melodies are still weeping and wistful but surrounded by the romance of the arrangements they are transformed from black metal traditionalism to something much more contemporary and elusive (i'm reminded mostly of other "romantic" black metal ala Mortifera, Alcest and, in a composition-only way, Grand Belial's Key.)
It's exciting to me to see Varg working so quickly and masterfully. So many thought the new Burzum wouldn't be able to compete with the old, that the victories and triumphs of the past could only be a product of their time, that the fires would burn out during Varg's imprisonment. To me Burzum is as vital now as it was in 1993. This is a stunning piece of work, trading on the conceptual success of "Belus" and warping it into something completely new and tremendously effective. Listening to "Fallen" makes me feel that black metal is still a force of near magic strength and vitality, as much a philosophy and a way of thinking as a form of music. This will easily stand as one of 2011's best albums, as well as a landmark statement in Burzum's storied discography. Totally recommended, utterly masterful and simply gorgeous.