Burzum SUCKS – The Yoko Ono of Black Metal

Good title, eh?  One of the writers was like “what’s this whole Yoko Ono thing?”  Maybe we should have said “of metal” and been less specific with our symbolism, because this guy pretty much covers the required ‘general idiot’ persona for the entire community.  There, we said it.  And we’re going to say more, a lot more.  Burzum, what’s the point of going over the biography of the guy or his “music”?  You know it all, maybe you’ve even scratched your head at the plethora of average and/or negative reviews on Metallum.  If you’re here you’re likely already angry about this article before we even discussed anything of worth, so what’s the point of opening with a biography?  For the two people who don’t know about him?  Please, even if you are reading this and don’t know who Burzum/Varg Vikernes is, you can find out by just doing a general internet search.  His damn name alone will bring up more sites than the letter E.  And that’s  just sad.  Why?  Read the damn title of this article again before we get started, because it’s a nice summary, and that’s why we’re using it, because he’s as pertinent as she is/was.


See, Burzum gets a ton of street cred as one of the most recognized forces in metal, but the problem is there’s no damn good reason for it, only stupid ones.  “How could you?” you already called out before you even clicked on this article to read.  It’s simple, Burzum doesn’t deserve it.  Varg’s one of the most overrated and irritating presences in the music world today, and we’re comparing him to the mainstream now, because that’s pretty much what he’s become in terms of the underground and all things kvlt.  To his credit, he sucked all you fools dry for some cash flow, but let’s be real.  If black metal was The Beatles, it got married to Burzum years ago while having Mark Chapman’s baby and naming it Holden Lennon.  Let’s explain our reasoning here with a nice, succinct list for easy-reading, for those of you who still can’t believe we’d say such a thing and who like stupid lists.  Even stupider is that this doesn’t have a set number of things to talk about, so if it comes to be ten, so be it, if nine, whatever.  Let the threats begin (please save those for comments and not email, if you don’t mind, we’d rather you visibly make a fool of yourself).


badass1. Ridiculous early image.  Of course, we’re referring primarily to the old times, but there’s a reason.  That famous image of Varg as a teen in armor while holding a mace is about as brutal and legit as seeing a seven-year-old Aussie lad holding a BB gun (see left).  We all went through that phase.  The one where you latch onto ideals you don’t have a clue about, generally because you think the image alone is cool.  Burzum had a focus on verifying pagan culture through his music, still does to some extent, and though the studying of such ideas can be rewarding, it’s simply not possible to live that kind of life any longer, and using the image at face value is stupid if you pretend to believe in it without really knowing what it means.  The culture, its Gods, all of that, is dead, it had a context in which to function.  One that no longer exists.  So how to make this relevant, by taking a picture in armor with a mace you could barely hold in the air?  Looks like his limbs are about to shake off in the damn photo.  Go lift or something so at least you look something physically like a Viking instead of a Hot Topic Goth.  Please.  The big reason for making a deal out of his past is this is really the only time he was releasing anything of worth, and it was all tied into images like this that were completely ridiculous.


2. Lord of the Rings references.  If there’s one thing stupid in black metal, it’s references to anything by Tolkien.  Crebain did it, and yes, Burzum has as well.  When was this ever a good idea?  Take the song entitled “The Crying Orc“, for example (and enjoy a further reference on the right).  Does that really sound awesome to any of you out there?  Now, this is certainly not a tirade against the writing of Tolkien; everyone enjoys his fantasy or has at least seen the films based on his most famous works.  No, this is a tirade about how stupid it is to discuss it in black metal.  It’s fantasy people, you know, a form of fiction.  Burzum, as a word, comes from the series itself, from one of the fictional languages created by Tolkein.  For an Odalist who’s trying to go off about how great it is to bring back Scandinavian paganism, WTF are you doing using symbols that are literally fake to begin with?  Yeah, we know, it’s based on ancient myth, but it itself is not ancient myth.  What kind of starting point is this to begin with something fake based on something real that isn’t even native in essence?  You know what I want to do?  Start a black metal band that sings about Dune, the band itself to be called Fremen.  Get it now?  It’s also so overdone the cheesiness has become mummified.


3. Lack of mythological and symbolic consistency.  Burzum has this whole “philosophy” going on, which you can read thoroughly about on his enlightening (sarcasm) website.  Problem he had, at least earlier, and to his credit he’s more consistent now, was the image of the pagan lord of black metal he was trying to portray.  We’ve already laughed at some of it above, but let’s continue from the last points.  Since Burzum criticizes the authors of Lords of Chaos because they made up “lies” based on the “truth”, why does he think basing some of his concepts off of fantasy and other myth isn’t frikken contradictory?  One song, for example, is about the Sumerian god Ea.  Now why in the Hell are you singing about that?  Isn’t that a bit removed from Scandinavian myth?  And wasn’t the album Fallen endowed with an image from a French painter of Christian Europe that depicted a cherub below (see left for full art)?  This whole confusion would be similar to a Estonian folk metal band calling themselves Sith while singing in Maputhungun.  Yes, it’s that stupid.  And hey, if you’re going to go with proper symbolism, how about you don’t use the blackletter font for some of your logo designs, hmm?  Isn’t it further contradiction to use a hallmark of Christian Europe?  Might want to go a little tribal for that one, buddy, some of that ‘Viking font’ perhaps.  Do ye bow to the English, knave?  Speaketh in thy native tongue.  And why’d you move to France with your wife and kids?  Pretty Norse right there, yep, run away from your problems.  Enjoy the Louvre.  Now we know why you chose such a painting for black metal.  So effay.


4. Literal murder and lies for image are not cool.  Everyone makes mistakes, but some people celebrate them instead of learning, growing, and moving on to become a human being.  One of the things that drove black metal in the early 1990s outside of Norway and surrounding countries was all of the media attention, primarily utilizing many unfounded claims of murder, Satanism, and the like.  Part of this actually stemmed from a notorious, and staged, interview by Varg and Euronymous of Mayhem (read Lords of Chaos for the details), in an effort to promote black metal and generate revenue for Helvete, the store where all the kiddies could come for their evil, even though they tried to make it seem like it wasn’t for that reason.  Many statements made during the interview were, admittedly by Burzum himself, fake, and whatever the cause, which is still debated today, this eventually led him to the house of Euronymous (see him at right in the most pathetic, teeny-bopper Burzum photo ever taken), where he stabbed him to death, later claiming self-defense.  Regardless of what really happened, the essence of it boils down to music, he killed someone over music that was practically fake to begin with.  What a world.  And people celebrate this like it’s cool.  Guy was also stashing explosives and ammunition at the time to attack a local anarchist group with anti-Nazi ties, so the whole self-defense thing is likely just as full of crap as almost everything else he’s ever said.


5. The stupid white power thing.  No pictures for this one, it doesn’t deserve it.  Let’s get this straight, Burzum, the man, has never been entirely clear exactly what he believes about race, and he’s contradicted himself several times, or at least made it seem this way to save face.  So right there he’s already destroyed his image of manly Vikingness.  Can’t even be honest about yourself?  Come on, man.  Earlier, he identified with white nationalism, and even mentions his usage of terms like ‘Nazism’ on his own website.  He eventually stated he stopped using such references, because the “confusion” was that he was supportive of the idea of “blood religion” as it was found in groups like the German Nazi Party, but not some other things.  What he meant was the support of old, pagan traditions and national traditions, which in essence isn’t necessarily a bad thing unless in the wrong hands.  Unfortunately, this would be the wrong hands.  Burzum stated he believes in “supporting one’s race” and he’s frequently engaged in discussions about the issues of  “race mixing” or “Americanization” and has had posts on blogs that are clearly racist.  Hate isn’t good against hate, so please, don’t get us wrong, this isn’t hate, it’s laughter.  Laughter that anyone in this day and age can seriously consider violence or negative discussions against other races a good thing.  World needs to move in the direction of unity, sad to say it black metal fans.  You can still sing about hating everything, though.  Funny that this guy despises things like “Americanization” when the US is one of the biggest Burzum consumers.  At least he runs his own label and distribution now.  We’ll give him that.  But that kind of thing is kind of negated by disgusting, outdated Antisemitism.


6. Celebrating moral corruption.  Hey, we get it, it’s black metal.  We gave Black Hate a perfect score in a review this year, so we know what that sort of image is about.  But that’s the thing, it’s an image, it’s there to make you introspective.  This becomes an incredibly fine line with black metal.  Where does the image end and reality begin?  With something like, say, hip hop, where misogyny is frequent, if said artist engages in infidelity with multiple partners, though it may not be morally right, it’s not necessarily something legally wrong.  But Varg is a legit criminal in the legal sense.  He killed someone over music for Christ’s sake.  It wasn’t even for a particularly good reason, it was for no reason, and that’s the worst kind of crime.  Then we have, of course, the famous church burning incidents, which are sometimes even visible in some of the artwork he used in various releases and bootlegs.  Yes, we know, anti-Christianity is common in black metal.  But there’s a difference between blaspheming using imagery like upside-down crosses, and actually burning down historical artifacts, regardless if you believe in them or not.  Maybe Christianity has done a lot of bad things, sure, it’s done some of the worst things even, but in their process of destroying old culture why do the same to them?  Does that really accomplish anything?  In our opinion the only thing it accomplishes is a furtherance of how stupid we all really are.  Do you really want to support a man who’s done things that are morally corrupt and completely infantile?  He could barely do crime right, he was literally just a teenager with too much time to think.  Go mow the lawn or something.


7. Horrid discography.  Now let’s move on to the actual music since we’re past the image phase.  This is one of the thing’s that surprising about Burzum fans, casual or otherwise.  They’ll go on and on about how revolutionary he was, how unique, how simplistically evil, how blackened crust metal ambient shoegaze, all of that, but what they fail to grasp is they always seem to focus on two albums, Hvis Lyset Tar Oss or Filosofem, which are unfortunately only two samples out of a list of like 20 or so unique albums.  2 out of 20 ain’t bad?  No, it’s real bad, be honest here, that’s like getting a 10% on an exam, or what is, we guess, roughly a K-.  It would be like Iron Maiden having only two good albums out of the million they’ve released over the years.  Think they’d still hold their fan base if that were so?  Wouldn’t a good musician/band have a discography that was largely good?  Two rights out of more wrongs don’t make a good around here, sorry, kind of need to be consistent over the years, not just one or two good releases.  Said two albums aren’t that great anyway other than a handful of songs in totality, and even that’s being generous, as it’s more like three.


8. Those prison albums.  God damn, can you believe Varg in prison is wearing a Burzum shirt over there?  Even the most rabid of Burzum fans will admit, yeah man, those prison albums…  Very few “fans” of the guy actually claim to enjoy them because of how dreadful they are.  They’re often referred to as “dark ambient”, to the occasional chagrin of the dark ambient community.  In addition, the fact that anyone let someone release albums and make money off of an image of honest to goodness, old-fashioned hate speech and murder is disgusting.  It’s more disgusting that they’re actually referred to as albums.  The limited access he had to anything other than cheap synths makes one wonder why in the hell he bothered.  The point of these?  Who knows, to make sure his “fans” still knew he was around to keep them awaiting the return!!!!  Thing is, if he did have a purpose other than that, he probably would have had something more substantial to release.  The only good thing about these pieces of waste is you can hear Burzum stripped down to just his “atmospheric” keyboards, which sound so terrible you’d expect more out of a two-year-old without arms or probably even a brain, maybe even a head.  The structures are pathetic, written by someone with literally no knowledge of proper technique, scales, or probably even what a piano is.  As a classically trained pianist, these particular releases instill nothing in me but pure hatred, which is, I guess, a good thing for black metal, so job well done there, buddy.


9. Simplistic music, but not original, nor good. This is one of the “hallmarks” of Burzum, and apparently good black metal according to people who enjoy him.  Burzum relies heavily on simplistic, minimal patterns to achieve his overall sound.  This can be good, if done right.  The best evidence of this kind of thing is Det Som Endgang Var, which is probably the best song he ever created, if not really the only one out of anything’s he’s done that’s worth hearing.  The atmosphere is there, with Varg relying heavily on minimalist keyboards and fragile, frozen chords similar to Bauhaus, which then moves into a grinding chord progression and thrash-style drums that then goes back into the black metal and back again, and again, and again…  See, yeah, it kind of has this decent sound for what it is, but it’s too damn long and lacks development.  And if you think he’s interesting because this was “new” you can forget it, because Bathory’s first album, self-titled, was released almost a full decade before anything Burzum actually released, including demos.  Check out the track “Raise the Dead” or almost anything else from that one if you think simplistic minimalism was something new for black metal, because it most certainly wasn’t.  Other fans have referred to him as playing for a “niche” audience, which is a joke because there are plenty of minimalist black metal bands doing much better.  Thantifaxath, anyone?  That’s them in the picture.  Please, to call anything Burzum’s done groundbreaking causes a flux in the essence of bands who really do it right.


10. Lack of overall quality.  Does Burzum have some good songs?  Sure he does, most bands do.  But it ends there for him, unfortunately.  One of the issues with Varg is he doesn’t know when to sit back and let ideas stew before releasing them.  Want to know why?  Because Burzum is his cash cow, and he’s laughing at the bank while you try to pretend to make sense out of it.  The prison albums we already commented on, everyone knows they’re worthless, probably even him.  There are plenty of dark ambient bands who can take a single keyboard and make it sound like a million, but not Burzum.  So?  Didn’t you talk about that already?  Yeah, but here’s the point for this tidbit, he should have stopped.  He should have stopped, sat back, got together ideas, did his time in the air-conditioning, and then released a quality album.  One of the issues you’ll find numerous critics have had with his work over the past four years is that he keeps dishing out album after album without much consideration for the actual content, and it ends up sounding like “middle-age metal,” meaning stuff that’s in the throes of a crisis.  To quote a reviewer from Sputnik, “Come on, Varg. Seriously? We don’t hear from you for 11 years and now you’re popping out two albums within 12 months? You’re smothering us, man. At least the intro this time doesn’t sound like Charlie Sheen’s breakfast table.”


11. Loss of relevance.  Viking metal, black metal with a “purpose”, bringing back Odin, it’s tiresome, and it’s practically meaningless in modern society.  Trite in legit black metal.  Unless you’re going around via boat and taking the Rus’ to the Russians or really, like seriously living your beliefs, you’re kind of a cardboard image.  And if you keep going with it, you’re no longer going to be relevant, and he’s finally reaching that point, but sadly that probably isn’t the end of him.  There’s only so many times we can hear the hate speech, hear the stories of the churches burned, blah blah blah, that kind of thing is only relevant the first time.  Sadly the only reason Burzum continues to be any sort of presence in the metal community is there’s always a new generation who hasn’t heard about him and thinks they need to, and that alone keeps him chugging along.  And then you get stuff like the right, where imagery becomes utilized in new ways.  That has its own problems.  For true fans of the underground it’s the death sentence.  But that’s not all, as for the image and stories we’ve heard it all.  What else do you have?  Can you grow as a musician?  Can you define yourself in new ways?  Can you write music in new ways?  Not really, no?  Screw you, then.  What’s funny is that Burzum is more clearly defined of an entity now, in terms of his image, but his music was better when he didn’t have a clue what he was talking about.  Hahahaha, what a joke…


12. His fans.  But, unfortunately, Burzum persists.  The reason why he persists is simple, there’s always someone just discovering his work, so there’s always someone to think they’ve become part of something unusual so they can define themselves as “other”.  It’s sad, really, there are so many more interesting acts in black metal, so much more to learn, that sticking with Burzum is something like a child who’s been living at home in a room next to his mother’s for over 30 years.  Just can’t take that step out of the front door to his own place…  Those who love Varg and his crap music are just like that, they defend it to the death because it’s so comfortable to them, it’s something they’re almost scared to deny for fear of actually having to think for themselves.  It’s so cutting edge, so defining.  It’s so black and evil to listen to someone who’s literally murdered someone and burned down churches.  And they never shut up, either, they’re worse than an Avenged Sevenfold fan telling you why Ghost is so evilly awesome after they just saw them together on tour.  They never get it, and they’re always there to annoy.  Nearly every genre has someone/something like this, a thing latched onto because of the general opinion it carries, which is never entirely justified most of the time.  Here, not at all.  At least eBay got the hint before we published this.  Hopefully, all of the above will make some sense for you out of why he’s so pointless.  It’s surprising, again, that this sort of thing has never been written, and we could certainly say more, but we’ll leave that up to the comments for more ideas to add, and we’ll certainly credit your original ideas.  If you’re just taking baby steps into the underground, Burzum’s a start, but it’s not an end, keep going.


Written by Stanley Stepanic