Varg – Does anyone really care?

Earlier this year the infamous Varg Vikernes, of black metal fundamentalists Burzum was released from prison for the barbaric murder of Mayhem’s Euronymous in 1993 as well as the many church burnings he allegedly perpetrated and/or colluded in – he denies any such arson attacks. He has also been notorious holding some very far right political ideals and has been accused of homophobia and racism. When Vikernes, under the musical pseudonym Count Grishnackh was sentenced he was merely 19.

The man has a reputation as colourful as a Europe album cover but with a heart and mind as black as the threatening murk of Lake Vostok.

This is a man who, on day release in October 2003, was caught on a motorway in a stolen Volvo with pilfered firearms including, an automatic rifle, a handgun, as well as knives, a gas mask, camouflage gear, a GPS system, a laptop and a fake passport. A few months were added to his sentence.

Regardless of being sectioned off from society in prison he still managed to record 2 albums while incarcerated, all on synthesizers – Dauði Baldrs and Hliðskjálf, both of which brazenly flatter with a sound that has become known as “dark ambient”. The latter of those two records was supposed to be the last Burzum album according to the man himself, but as you will see that is not to be the case.

In March of this year Vikernes obtained parole and was confirmed to have been released from prison on the 22nd May, he served 16 years out of the 21 year sentence, even after his atrocious mishap in 2003. He is, however, on probation. Throughout the summer Vikernes kept a surprisingly low profile, returning to his farm in Telemark. But we’ve now learned in the latter half of 09 that a book is planned and a new Burzum album.

In the early 90s Vikernes was involved in the intrinsic foundation of Norwegian black metal, a movement that has inexorably shaped extreme metal as we know it. Musically, Burzum along with Mayhem and Darkthrone sculpted a sound that could only be described as unadulterated evil. Prior to that, Celtic Frost, Mercyful Fate, Bathory and Venom had all laid the groundwork, a foundation if you will, for the Norwegian extremists to build their malevolent and spiteful house of horrors.

Arrogance is rife in any scene, particularly if anything innovative is being carried out. Some characters stand out more than others. In the early half of the 90s Norway gave us some truly awe-inspiring inventiveness and just plain talented musicians and songwriters like Emperor, or most specifically their guitarist/vocalist (now, solo) Ihsahn.

Varg developed an annoying god complex in which he felt his music and “artistic expression” was worlds apart from his peers, he believed himself to be a visionary. But the truth of the matter is that he is not. Vikernes is a slightly below average song writer and musician. If his abilities spoke the volumes his ego does then no petty, childish church burnings, juvenile ramblings against the church and certainly no homicide would have been necessary. As being perfectly frank, they were acts of extreme attention seeking, not acting out on a “modern world gone mad”.

Thanks to Varg and his like-minded cohorts in the early 90s we had a damaged reputation for metal fans where many that simply enjoyed music with a darker edge were tarred with the same brush and dismissed as infantile hate machines. When, anyone with half a brain and some decency knew otherwise.

Moving on, after many years the egoism remains. His updates on burzum.org, displeasingly spell out that his unruly narcissism still exists within him.

He has become discontented with what black metal is considered in the 21st century as he feels, with gall in abundance, that this is his music, and that it has now been bastardised. But, that is not the case. Yes, he had a hand in the developing the second wave of black metal in Norway. Yes, he made a semi-classic record in Hvis lyset tar oss and the Aske EP. And yes, he still has some devoted fans to this day. But is it his music? The answer is a resounding and emphatic no.

Was black metal supposed to stay stationary? Was it to wait for Varg to be released and let him just pick up where he left off and continue his self-important tirade? No, it evolved… dramatically. Dimmu Borgir and Satyricon penetrated the mainstream. Shining deconstructed all templates and injected some harrowing amounts of melancholy. Emperor and Ihsahn relentlessly pushed all boundaries from sight and created astonishing works of arts. Wolves In The Throne Room have completely eschewed any preconceived notions of how a black metal band should sound. The list goes on and on

That same update posted last month divulged Vikernes’ not only his current state of mind but informed us of his new album Den Hvite Guden (The White God). He delves far into his rectal cavity to further extol himself as a visionary and belittle and dismiss the black metal genre as “tasteless and a low brow parody” and hopes that it meets its “dishonourable end as soon as possible.” Read the entire post HERE.

Supposedly Den Hvite Guden will be a polar opposite to the pop culture and entertainment of today that Varg so vehemently despises. The remainder of the post amiably describes how it may or may not sound.

Regardless of the lambasting aspects in this piece Den Hvite Guden will be greeted with open ears and an open mind. Curiosity will rein supreme, what will it sound like? Will it be a bastion for the negativity that seems to resonate from Varg? But, most importantly, will it be any good? It can be summed up in three words – time will tell. Thanks for reading and Varg, high five me brother!

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