Reviewed by Gird_09
Following up on last year's Belus is no easy task, and the cover does make me a bit sceptical. It's a sharp departure from the gloomy aesthetics we've come to associate with Burzum (while still deply rooted in romanticism). Even the fonts have been changed from gothic to a simple plain font with serifs. Belus was a powerful and personal album and one of the best comebacks of all time. With Vikernes' discography in mind he really needs to work hard to stay interesting.
The first track is an ambient introductory track and sets the level of expectations high. Much higher, alas, than the album can live up to. Apart from the two neo classical albums Burzum has been consistently interesting on all the releases, and Det som Engang Var, Filosofem and Belus represent some of the best metal albums of all time, as I see it. Like I said, not easily followed, and evidently Varg Vikernes has gone off on the deep end with this album. One of Burzum's strong points has always been a direct and primitive minimalism with harsh sounds and vocals straight from the throats of a dying troll. None of this is present on Fallen, and the arrangements are even at times something more akin to progressive metal. The vocals are quite simply sad. I will never forget when I first heard Vikernes' vocals, and when Belus came out I was a bit let down by the change in style (but it still worked well) – on this album the change is complete. Melodic clean vocals are combined with some of the most boring attempts at distorted vocals I've ever heard. Very sad, very sad.
It's commendable that Burzum changes style, and I respect Vikernes' intention with this, but it ends up being somewhat mediocre. It's hard to judge objectively considering Burzum's history and legendary status, but I'm not convinced. I can see this album growing on me, but I doubt very much that I will ever grow to like the vocals (though Vikernes sings better than you'd expect). The melodies are interesting and Burzum has matured in its expression and depth, but the content doesn't really match the ambitions. I wish there was a bit more power, and perhaps a little bit more of the primitive nerve of earlier albums. It's not entirely bad, but it's not really good either.
The lyrics nowhere near approach the mythical content of the earlier albums. Varg Vikernes is perhaps one of the very few black metal lyricists with any demonstrable ability to actually write a good lyric, but the ones on this album certainly doesn't represent his best work. The mystic dark gnosis has been replaced by very obvious psychological lyrics. For the most part anyway.
Fallen is Burzum's second album since getting out of jail, and the years of near isolation has evidently had effect – as is to be expected. You might say it sounds uninspired, but I suppose unfinished is more accurate. Despite evidently having been more meticulously produced and mastered than previous efforts. I recommend this album for completists. The rest of us are just gonna have to see what he comes up with next year. I do hope he comes up with something.
Norway, 2011, CD album, Byelobog Productions
1 Fra Verdenstreet [1:03]
2 Jeg Faller [7:51]
3 Valen [9:22]
4 Vanvidd [7:06]
5 Enhver til Sitt [6:16]
6 Budstikken [10:10]
7 Til Hel og Tilbake Igjen [5:57]