The Ways of Yore

Written by: EW on 11/07/2014 23:28:17

The train keeps rolling with new Burzum releases, “The Ways of Yore” being the sixth full-length (including ‘compilation’ LP “From the Depths of Darkness”) since 2010 following Varg’s release from prison for you-know-what. By and large his ’second era’ material has been of a good standard, devoid of the intensity and ill will of earlier Burzum recordings but possessive of their own more relaxed earthly spirit. An excursion into maturity you might say, a journey he had plenty of time to consider through the long years of incarceration. “The Ways of Yore” thematically continues Varg’s explorations of mythology, folklore and Odalism but musically the departure into acoustic and ambient territories takes the mind back to his late 90’s prison albums, “Dauði Baldrs” and “Hliðskjálf”. In spite of that the 13 tracks here (inclusive of two re-recorded versions of older tracks) feature a decent amount of variation, not least in comparison to other black metal acts who have trodden similar paths in recent times, notably October Falls and the upcoming Wolves in the Throne Room record. We have acoustic guitar intermissions, atmospheric effects, slowly monotonous percussion and a variance of clean vocal styles from Varg which provide a warm, humanist vibe to the record, a feeling which may some contradictory given his frenzied path but retains value from a historical perspective.

Early listens to the album however left me cold and distinctly bored by the closing stages of its 68 minutes as the slow drawl and lack of energy provide ample opportunity for the mind to wander and crave something a bit more, well, like the nihilistic Burzum of old. My own personal appreciation has grown through subsequent listens but I doubt that many out there will be so willing to embrace what at times feels like a personal message from its creator. I would not wish to second guess the underlying intention of the (English) spoken word passages in “Heill Odinn”, “The Coming of Ettins”, “Ek Fellr”, all of which witness Varg orate with his heavy nasal Norwegian accent, but in a similar way to Sabbath Assembly records the simplistic and spacious soundscapes are ripe for the delivery of intuition. The plethora of atmospherics are primarily focussed around individual keyboard strokes with a deep echo reverberating into a dark ether of unpredictability but through any of these it is hard to feel the same attachment as compared to the ambient tracks from previous Burzum records where their more spared usage had a strong effect. I can’t help but feel that much of the depth through these passages comes simply from standard keyboard effects as the inclusion of two rerecorded old tracks featured at the end - “Emptiness” (“Tomhet” from “Hvis Lyset Tar Oss”) and “To Hel and Back Again” (“Til Hel og Tilbake Igjen" from “Fallen”) which consume 23 minutes of the running time - show themselves to have a greater depth and mystery through their gentle melodic sweepings. Whether down to a more prolonged exposure to their wares down the years or through the space of this album, they end up highlighting that too little of “The Ways of Yore” possesses the hooks for instant gratification nor lingers in the memory long beyond the finish. I appreciate “The Ways of Yore” as a representation of Burzum’s variations in the past few years but I cannot see how many fans of the man’s fabled back catalogue will be too enamoured by this.


Download: Heill Odinn, Emptiness
For The Fans Of: October Falls, Wolves in the Throne Room, Blut Aus Nord
Info: Website

Release date 02.06.2014
Byelobog Productions

Related Items | How we score?
comments powered by Disqus


© Copyright MMXXII Rockfreaks.net.