Myth-making is not something that Varg Vikernes (aka Count Grishnackh, the one-man band that is/was Burzum) is unfamiliar with. Oh, sure, Vikernes was responsible for a few legends of his own. That happens when you burn down churches, murder a guitarist in another band, get busted with a bunch of dynamite and, while in prison, get your guitar taken away after you get caught in a prison-break plot hatched by your mom. Yeah, that's the kind of stuff that pretty much tacks your name to the community bulletin board that is history. What's typically forgotten in the Burzum myth is the music, and behind that music -- and much of the music of Norway's black metal scene -- is a virulent anti-Christianism that, frankly, is kind of cool. To the Norwegians, mere "devil worship" was just slightly out-of-whack Christianity, and the whole idea of the Christian pantheon -- God, Jesus, Satan, devils, angels, whatever -- was anathema to a worldview that perceived the invasion of the Euro-Christian hordes as ... wait for it ... a massive Jewish plot to dilute the snow-driven purity of Scandinavia. Thus, the thematic thrust of Burzum was about glorifying the pre-Christian mythology that defined the region and what started as a dark, grinding morass of metal morphed over time into the music found on these two CDs: atmospheric and ominous goth paeans to Ansuzgarda and Beldegir. These two discs were recorded in the late '90s between bouts of prison ass-raping and, having had his guitar taken away, Vikernes had to find some way to express his fair-haired angst. Of the two, "Hlidskjalf" (1999) is far more effective, steering away from some of the more ridiculous pretension that weighed down "Daudi Baldrs" (1997). Of course, the later disc is also somewhat full of itself, telling a proto-mythical tale in broad sweeps of synth patterns and doom & gloom samples, but the restraint Vikernes shows (not a typical trait for him) benefits the album's desolate theme.
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