This Burzum Q&A is not a supporting interview to J. Bennett's excellent cover story in "Decibel" #67 (nab a copy here). Rather it's merely a set of questions posed to Burzum mainman Varg Vikernes in the interest of understanding more about the man behind the myth. Think of it as a companion piece to the "Decibel" story. Like two semi-nude toxophilites helping one another learn the finer points of archery.
We were limited to 10 questions of which Varg answered nine. So, with these parameters in mind and the fact that "Belus"
, Varg's long-awaited return to metal, is in fact an engaging if remarkably vibrant musical endeavor - some say possible Album of the Year - and not some malformed, trisomy 21 keyboard-laden ode to Manuel Göttsching we posed our questions. Here are Varg's unaltered answers to our unaltered questions. Neat when it works out that way.
Why was it significant to return Burzum to metal? "Dauði Baldrs" and "Hliðskjálf" took a different path for, what would seem, obvious reasons.
I make almost all my music on the guitars, so it was only natural for me to return to metal. It's a return to the origin of Burzum.
Would you classify, in the urgent need of classification, "Belus" as Black Metal or something else entirely?
Personally I don't see why we need to place this in the Black Metal category. Black Metal today is so different from what it was in 1991-1992, and I have nothing in common with the so-called Black Metal bands of today. To me "Belus"
is metal music alright, and if I have to classify it I would say it's Heavy Metal or maybe Thrash Metal. "Sverddans" certainly is Thrash Metal anyway.
When writing "Belus" did you set any parameters of what it could or could not be?
Not really. I just made the album the way I wanted it to sound. Initially I wanted to include an ambient track as well, but it didn't work the way I wanted so I dropped it, and that was just fine.
Lyrically, what is it about "Belus" that interests you? There also seems to be a related deity or concept in Levantine mythologies.
The name derives in our cultural sphere (i.e., Indo-Europe) from a Indo-European word, and we find several very similar names throughout Europe on this deity; Belobog ("White-God"), Belenus ("Shining One"), Baldur ("Shining Round Object") and of course the reconstructed I-E name Belus ("Shining White"). The Bel-/Bal- prefix means "white", "shining" or "shining white". The concept of a white (as in "innocent" and "pure") god is pretty universal I think, but the name should not be confused with the Semitic Baal ("Lord"), a title used on several different Levantine deities, in fact. The European – or rather Anglo-Saxon – equivalent to the Semitic Baal title exists, but is linked to a different deity, namely Freyr. The term "lord" derives from one of his titles; the Anglo-Saxon word "hleward" ("bread-warden"). (And I may add that "lady" means "baker of bread".)
You've recorded every album at Grieghallen. What was it like to record "Belus" at Grieghallen as a free man? Is there a memory of being at and recording in Grieghallen that sticks out?
Not really. I use this studio every time because I know it, and you know; if it works, don't fix it. Further, I am too conservative and narrow-minded to try something new.
Your method of musical composition relies on heavy use of repetition and alternating themes. Discuss the importance of those attributes in the music you create.
My musical roots and inspiration lie not in rock 'n roll or metal music, but first and foremost in classical music, balalaika and in underground house music. I like the music to be mesmerizing, almost ritual, and in order to achieve this you need repetition and alternating themes.
Talk about your approach to music and what it means to you to sit down, either in a room or on a porch, and compose music. Is it a cathartic or fulfilling experience? Maybe, it's a bit of both.
To record an album is cathartic, or at least it was with "Belus"
, but to make music is more fulfilling than anything else, I think.
Is there a Burzum book in the works? You've written extensively and often for Burzum.org.
No, but a few years ago I wrote a book about the Black Metal scene in Norway from 1991 to 1993, but I have lost interest in the subject and I cannot find any motivation to translate and publish it.
It is said the word "impossible" was not in Napoleon's Dictionary. Is the word "regret" in your lexicon? Do you regret the way the situation between you and Euronymous unfolded?
Euronymous was no innocent part in this. He had plans to kill me, so I don't regret killing him. The situation itself might be regrettable; it cost me 16 years in prison after all, but I certainly don't regret killing a low-brow thug like Euronymous. He dug a hole and he fell in the hole himself. What goes around comes around.
Author: Chris Dick (© 2010 "Decibel" Magazine Blog USA)