Derailed: Burzum – Belus

Burzum is the solo project of Varg Vikerness. If you are not familiar with Varg, he is the notorious Norwegian black metal musician that was convicted of burning down ancient churches and the murder of fellow musician Øystein Aarseth, whom he stabbed in the head.  He was sentenced to 21 years in prison and was released in May of 2009 after serving 15 years.

Varg is an intelligent but misguided (evil?)  individual, there’s no doubt about that.  He has been called a racist, homophobic, Nazi, Odalist, murderer and arsonist and while he might not agree with all of these labels, he doesn’t deny most of them.  A friend of mine referred to him as the Charles Manson of black metal.

When I was a kid and getting into bands like Iron Maiden and Metallica, my parents were against it because they thought these bands were evil, Satanic, etc (after further research, I realize he is not a Satanist).  Well, this guy Varg lives up to my parents paranoid assumptions.

So, why am I writing about him?  Do I support this type of behaviour or belief system?

The answer to the first question is because I find it interesting and I like the music.  The answer to the second question is, of course, NO!  I find what he says and does appalling, but I also have a morbid sense of curiosity.  The curiosity is what drove me to this album…the music is why I am writing about it.

This album isn’t like other metal that I’ve listened to recently.  It’s not really that hard.  Sure, there are a few songs, like Keliohesten, that sound a little like Kill ‘Em All Metallica.  But most of it is not hard at all.  Sure, it’s dark and it’s heavy, but it is not hard.  It’s not (or maybe it is) the type of music you would expect based on all the media coverage.

The album, with songs covering the ancient European myths concerning Belus (a white God), starts with a dark ambient intro before going into the black metal core.  The Norwegian lyrics are almost buried in the repetitive riffs…with guitar being the forefront of the album.  At times I almost feel like I’m listening to an instrumental soundtrack to a David Lynch film.

This is not an album I can listen to all the time.  The first time I heard it I was actually pretty bored.  But after a few listens I actually find it soothing.  A weird word to describe a black metal album by a convicted murderer.  But what can I say…

I’ll end this with a recent quote from Vikerness when asked what he thought of people who are not Nordic heterosexual’s listening to his music.

“And what is my message? When did Burzum ever address political/racial matters? I don’t think Burzum has ever even addressed religious matters, other than describing different European myths. Burzum is not a political or religious band, or even an anti-religious band. Burzum is music; art if you like, and the interpretation of art lies in the eye of the beholder. I might be Nordic, heterosexual and have a Pagan ideology myself, but why would I expect the fans of my music to be just like me?

I am a narrow-minded ultra-conservative anti-religious misanthropic and arrogant bigot, alright, and I have a problem with just about everything and everyone in this world, but I am not demented, and if those who are not like me are able to enjoy my music that is all fine by me. Be a Christian-born black gay feminist converted to Judaism for all I care, or worse; a Muslim. Just stay off my lawn… :-)

Oh, and I may add that I have a problem with most Nordic heterosexuals with a Pagan ideology as well.”

(from Stereogum…read the full interview here)

Another great article covering Varg, the murder and Norwegian black metal in general.