You Will Never Get To See Them Live: Burzum

BurzumBurzum

Burzum

The site’s latest weekly column shines a spotlight on some awesome bands you’ll likely never, ever get to see live — something we think you should definitely feel quite bad about.

Why do a column like this? We like to rub it in, folks. Plus, we figured it’d start an ongoing conversation amongst the site’s readership in the comments section and on Facebook about other bands we’ll probably never see take a stage again, and we were right. The column continues today with Burzum, who you will never get to see for obvious reasons.

WHO THEY ARE:
Burzum was one of the pioneering bands of the Norwegian Black Metal genre, and the mastermind behind the project was one baby-faced church-burning charmer by the name of Varg Vikernes.

Burzum’s music featured distorted, tremolo-picked guitar riffs, harsh vocals and blast beat techniques. Earlier Burzum albums also featured very low production quality typical of the genre at the time. However, Burzum has progressed from primitive, raw black metal to classical-influenced ambient music characterized by minimalist tendencies and dark atmospheres.

The story of Burzum — or more accurately, Varg himself — is one that could only have be borne of the grim chill of Norway.

Vikernes began making music in 1988 with a band called Kalashnikov, and in 1990-1991 played guitar for the death metal band Old Funeral, which included members who would later go on to form Immortal.

Following his departure from Old Funeral, he formed Burzum — which translates to “darkness” in the fictional language of J.R.R. Tolkien. After a couple demo tapes began circulating locally, he caught the attention of Øystein “Euronymous” Aarseth of the band Mayhem (to be featured in a future installment of this column), who had just recently formed Deathlike Silence Productions. 

Euronymous signed Burzum to the label, and Vikernes (using the pseudonym of Count Grishnackh) began to record Burzum’s self-titled debut album. The intent was to make the album using the worst recording quality possible (a then-trademark sound of the early Norwegian Black Metal movement), and the eponymous record was released in 1992.

WHY YOU’LL NEVER SEE THEM LIVE:
No one ever saw Burzum live because Burzum has never played a show. Vikernes had toyed with the idea at one point, resulting in the addition of Samoth of Emperor on bass, but his only contribution was the recording of the Aske EP. Erik Lancelot was originally to play drums, but he did not record any material.

The interest in playing concerts quickly faded for Vikernes. After stating that he “didn’t even need session musicians anymore,” Samoth and Lancelot parted with Burzum.

In 1994, Vikernes was arrested for the grisly murder of Euronymous a year earlier (whose body was found on the stairs outside of his own apartment with 23 cut wounds – two to the head, five to the neck, and sixteen to the back) along with several church burnings. Vikernes claimed self-defense in the murder of Euronymous, a story which was (and still is) doubted by nearly everyone within the scene. 

He has also denied that he was responsible for the three arsons of historic churches for which he was convicted. At the time of his arrest, authorities found 150 kg of explosives and 3,000 rounds of ammunition in his home.

He was imprisoned until 2009, when he was released on parole after serving fifteen of his twenty-one year sentence. He still managed to release two dark, ambient, synth-based albums while in prison: Dauði Baldrs (1997) and Hliðskjálf (1999).

Following his time in prison, Vikernes recorded and released Belus in 2010, Fallen in 2011 and Umskiptare in 2012.  

Sôl Austan, Mâni Vestan, the first electronic Burzum record since 1999, was released in 2013, around the same time Vikernes released a single track called “Back To The Shadows” — which he claims will be the last metal track he releases as Burzum. 

Varg currently resides in France with his wife and children under the name of Louis Cachet.

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