Burzum features arguably the most infamous figure in Norwegian black
metal, that being one Count Grishnach (real name Christian
The band evolved from an early band called Uruk-Hai, a band that
broke up in 1990.
After playing in some short-lived projects (one of which featured
future members of
Vikernes resurrected Uruk-Hai, renamed it Burzum, and continued
as a one-man project.
Along the way he became one of the leaders of the Inner Circle
of black metal musicians and friends, who were responsible for
various church burnings and the like in the early nineties.
Then came the famous murder of then-bandmate Euronymous of
Mayhem (whom Vikernes had recently joined) in 1993,
and Vikernes was
convicted for the crime and sent to prison, where he remained until
the spring of 2009.
From a musical standpoint, the opinion here is that the legacy
of Varg the person will always be more lasting and noteworthy than
that of Burzum the band.
This is not to say that the music is inconsequential, as it is clear
that much of the early work was enormously influential to the
black metal scene that would blossom in the nineties (the post-jail
Burzum recordings are mentioned a bit later below),
and in some respects very interesting on its own merits.
Burzum relied less far less on blastbeats and raw speed than most
black metal bands, but instead focused on midpaced, drawn out
riffs with a decidedly haunting tone, with Vikernes' vocals (harsh
and tortured even by black metal standards) adding a measure of
evil to the mix.
Varg's personal life will seemingly always keep the Burzum name
in the spotlight, but there is no denying his
musical influence on the
black metal scene.
Though Vikernes was imprisoned in the early nineties, he continued
to release music as Burzum
(Filosofem was the last pre-prison album, recorded before his
imprisonment though released afterward),
but confined to keyboard arrangements.
As such, albums such as Daudi Baldrs have nothing to do with
metal in any regard.
At best, some songs have an interesting new age tone, while
other songs come across as quite simplistic arrangements that
really don't go anywhere.
Now that Vikernes is out of prison, Burzum is
active once again, and albums such as Belus apparently show a return,
at least in some part, to the pre-incarceration-period output.