Review: Burzum "Fallen" 2011 by Metallus Maximus
Last March, "Belus" solidified conjecture that under Burzum Varg Vikernes remains one of the scene's most compelling and eloquent creative forces. After much hype and media spin, it was satisfying to observe upon its release that "Belus" not only justified the incredible attention, but also exceeded the aural expectations of Burzum's underground followers. Forget the drama and history associated with the band - "Belus" on several artistic accounts scored justifiably as a modern-day pinnacle relevant to dark and Black Metal, and as such was indicated prominently throughout several renowned lists of 2010's best (and my own un-renowned list). A year has not yet elapsed since the triumph of "Belus", and already Vikernes' follow-up album, "Fallen", has arrived. This speaks highly of his ambition and imagination, but after such a victory is the timing too early for major output?
Commendably, "Fallen" avoids the posturing of a follow-up. While this record possesses many similar traits of other Burzum releases, it pushes away from those recent or otherwise familiar landmarks. Where "Belus" and past efforts have succeeded through enthralling black atmosphere, "Fallen's" advance is fresher; an attic's open portal to clean natural air. Harmonies on the album are bright and conducive to the organic character heard throughout, and the album's tone comfortably suits the rawness of each composition. While refined, Vikernes has taken care to preserve the integrity of his music by not over-embellishing the recording process. However enjoyable the listen though, slightly off-putting are various repetitive aspects (such as reoccurring rhythms) between songs. Also, the lack of diversity in the record's pace overall can at times emit an air of redundancy. But even considering these shortcomings, "Fallen" remains an adventurous undertaking of raw pagan energy, natural structure, and ancestral homage.
Given the inflexible and at-times-questionable tastes of the demographic this album petitions to, it's impossible to determine where "Fallen" will rest in the hierarchy of Burzum's continuing legacy. Ultimately, the album's greatest strength is its distinction from peers. It comes as a refreshing breath from an artist persistently on the verge of transition, and who's artistic importance outweighs the controversy surrounding him. 4/5
Carl Wood (© 2011 Metallus Maximus)