When I first reviewed ‘Belus’, I had only heard the few tracks that were leaked and available on Youtube. As simple and commonplace as it may be to simply download a torrent of this highly anticipated album would have been, it would also seem to be rather unceremonious. ‘Belus’ could be the most anticipated black metal album ever to be released. It seems rather redundant to review this release again, because if you don’t have it or have yet to hear it, then really, what the fuck are you doing?
Does it live up to the hype? If I had to give a simple, one word answer, it would be ‘yes’. The album has its pros and cons but the delivery of its message is fluid and visionary, overall.
Having spent nearly 16 years in a Norwegian prison for murder and arson, Varg Vikernes shows us his aptitude yet again for mood, patience and atmosphere amongst the 9 tracks that make up ‘Belus’. The two guitars and bass combine to form a dense fog full of texture and dark, complimentary tones. The vocals are rather buried, not nearly as ‘up-front’ in the mix as one might hope to find. The lyrics are entirely in Norwegian, full of energy and contain the occasional spoken word snippet. My only complaint about the recording quality is the dry ‘tink-tink-tink-tink’ sound of the closed hi-hats. The sound is prevalent throughout the entire album and not only does the repetitive sound lack dynamics it horribly contrasts the otherwise epic soundscape.
‘Belus’ has only one track that I would call upbeat, as far as traditional headbanging goes, ‘Sverddans’, which clocks in at a mere 2:27. The opening track, ‘Leukes Renkespill (Introduksjon) is nothing more than the sound of coins being dropped on a table or something simliar…not exactly musical or impressive as an opening track but I’ll trust the Count has his reasons for this odd intro. The strangest track seems to be ‘Kaimadalthas Nedstigning’ which opens aggressively and has the potential to be the strongest track on the album before turning into a pop sounding almost new wave dance number. Its not that it isn’t good music it just takes black metal to a different area. ‘Belus’ is also the first album from Burzum to feature a new logo other than the plain Old English font, for those of you keeping score. The album is deeply rooted in European mythology and was originally titled, ‘The White God’, one of many names commonly associated with the god Belus.
All in all, I enjoyed this album, though not as much as say, ‘Filosofem’. Expecting the Count to release something that mirrored his earlier, pre-murder conviction releases would be ridiculous. ‘Belus’ does a great job of sounding fresh and alive while still retaining a familiar sound and vision. New skin for old bones, in other words. When the album captures you, it takes you into the mind of black metal most notorious maniac. ‘Belus’ requires a patient listen and definitely calls for the right setting in which to listen because if unprepared, the listener will easily be bored and find the album mostly repetitive.