Review by Shezma for Burzum - Filosofem (1996)
Seperating the Man From The Music
Burzum. This is a difficult review to start, as an album untainted it is a necessary experience. I would have loved to go into this album entirely blind knowing nothing about what I was getting into. However I've seen various documentaries on Black Metal, the scene, and Varg (Burzum himself) and I wonder how that affected my listening experience. I can push certain political and criminal affiliations aside to a point. However, when you know how much effort he and the rest of the early Norwegian Black Metal scene put into their art you have to take notice and really dive into what they were trying to do and how they accomplished it with the way they record, live their lives, and just be black metal.
I could tip-toe around the controversy of this man and the music that came from it but I have to say for me it gives me more of an appreciation of the music. The Norwegian Black Metal scene including Varg is a Youtube/documentary rabbit hole that is fascinating to go into. I really don't know if I would listen to any black metal at all if I didn't get gripped into these stories. I have found no other genre of music to have such a definitive interesting story as the black metal scene has and can really be experienced by listening to specific albums that uniquely created a sound. Burzum - Filosofem is the last of that uniquely definitive sound in my opinion. It feels like a closing statement of a generation that lends itself to so many others.
Experience this first, unlike I did, then do yourself a favor and learn your history on this scene. This is an emotional ride, and for me I have a really hard time separating myself from the haunting slow fuzzy sounds of this album from the story. I have listened to this album many times and I am truly closing my eyes and trying to decipher every note, every screech, every emotion that fills this record. I don't understand it, nor will I try to, but I have my personal connection toward this album that works for me. 4 long tracks that just fly by but halfway through the 25 minute run time of 5th Rundgang Um Die Transzendetale Saule Der Singularitat I definitely notice it. The other songs are around 8 minutes long and I never even notice the time, but once I get half way through this one it does start to take you out of it. It's not a bad song, but after about the half-way mark you really do start to notice the repetition it it.
I can't even do a track by track review, because by doing so does not give the cohesion of this album justice including the 25 minute epic that would unfortunately be skipped midway through. It is a very particular naturally intended low-fi sound throughout. With very simple, possibly cryptic lyrics screeched through a bad microphone with fuzz. It's dirty sounding, there's nothing clean about this record. It has not been over-produced to clean out any imperfections. When you hear this and know that every instrument was delicately played and placed exactly when and where he wanted it you just let that take over. It is beautiful, and disturbing. It is warm, and freezing. A must hear experience for any music lover.