Well just in case you were pining away for it, here’s the latest annual release from black metal’s poster child, now predictably seeming to come out towards the end of Spring each year. What is rather odd though is his use of a different logo style with each subsequent release, kind of making my “Aske” shirt now appear obsolete. What goodies does our knife-wielding, nature and fascism-loving hero to hipsters have in store for us now?

Meaning “East of the Sun, West of the Moon” in old Norwegian (I’m guessing pre-Christianity, before much Latin and Greek vocabulary permeated European languages), the new album is another ambient effort by Varg. So if that immediately turns you off, stop reading right now. If however, you are a fan of darkwave and ambient soundscapes meant to induce feelings of relaxation or a trance-like state, this will surely have tremendous appeal to you. While previous ambient releases “Daudi Balders” and “Hlidskjalif” were limited by what means Varg had to record with while incarcerated, “Sol Austan, Mani Vestan” sounds more advanced in terms of production quality and overall execution, for the obvious stark contrast of recording a similar album as a free man. There are plenty of “DRRRRRRRRRRR!” and “NEOWWWWWWW!” sounding moments from holding the key down for long periods time to give you that cosmic free-floating-through-space-transcendental feeling just about any ambient side project from veteran black metallers seems to shoot for (Neptune Towers, anyone?). Highlights (as in the tracks that I played repeated because they gave me the best massage parlor deep relaxation-sounding feeling, and no, not from when I was in Bangkok, you ass!) include “Hid” and “Heljarmyrkr” while I must say the entire album satisfied as a whole.

Varg seems to get a kick out of being unpredictable and erratic with every single thing that gets him a shred of publicity, be it an interview (which I gladly did back in 2011 for Forbidden with his Public Relations person as a go-between) or a new release which may or may not sound like anything he’s ever done before. This album was recorded as the soundtrack for a film Varg co-directed called “ForeBears”, a documentary about theories on the Neanderthals and Homo sapiens of prehistoric Europe that I may or may not see in this lifetime. In the meantime, I might use any number of the tracks on here to Shavasana away, and they’ll serve that purpose divinely! (FA)