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Burzum is a one-man studio project by Norwegian black metal musician Varg Vikernes, notorious within music history for church burnings, the killing of Mayhem's guitarist Euronymous, and being a white nationalist. Burzum is also the Trope Maker for ambient black metal.
Founded in 1991, Burzum initially played raw black metal, and quickly became prominent within the Norwegian black metal scene. Burzum was signed to Deathlike Silence Productions, the record label run by Øystein Aarseth (aka Euronymous); Vikernes released four albums before his arrest in 1994 for the murder of Euronymous (whom he stabbed, allegedly over a contract dispute), as well as the arson of several churches in the area. While in prison, Vikernes recorded two dark ambient albums, which had a more mixed reception from the metal community than the rest of his albums.
Vikernes was released in 2009 on parole, and started recording the album Belus, his first metal album since his arrest.
- Burzum, 1992
- Det som engang var, 1993
- Aske, 1993
- Hvis lyset tar oss, 1994
- Filosofem, 1996
- Dauði Baldrs, 1997
- Hliðskjálf, 1999
- Belus, 2010
- Fallen, 2011
- Umskiptar, 2012
Varg Vikernes and his music provide the following trope examples:
- Artist Disillusionment - Varg really doesn't like the modern Black Metal scene, going so far as to compare them to homosexuals and "stereotypical Negroes." Stay classy, Varg!
- Black Metal - Dauði Baldrs and Hliðskjálf are straight-up electronic albums, but the rest of Varg's material is black metal.
- Brown Note: The music is intended as a real life example of this trope - Vikernes envisions each Burzum album as a kind of "spell" to be listened to while the listener is lying in bed, such that by the end of the album they will be sent to sleep. YMMV as to whether he succeeded in this goal.
- Cloudcuckoolander - This is particularly evident at his trial. The faces he makes in the file photos don't look like he's taking it very seriously.
- Epic Rocking: About half of the songs he's recorded. Hvis lyset tar oss, for example, is comprised of four tracks, the shortest of which is nearly eight minutes long.
- Genre Shift - From black metal to dark ambient. And back to black metal again with Belus.
- Harsh Vocals: For the most part. Clean singing/spoken word is used sparsely.
- Heavy Mithril - Quite frequently.
- I Am the Band - As stated in the opening sentence, Varg Vikernes is the only member of Burzum. Considering how well his last attempt at playing in a band with other people went, this is probably for the best.
- Indecipherable Lyrics: As a rule when the lyrics are screamed (although a Norwegian speaker might face less difficulty).
- Leave the Camera Running - "Rundgang um die transzentale Säule der Singularität" is the most obvious example. Some of his other songs probably qualify as well.
- Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness - The black metal material mostly sticks to a 9 or a 10. The dark ambient material can't really be measured on the scale due to being purely electronic.
- Multiple Choice Past - He changes his story nearly every time he recounts how he killed Euronymous.
- One of Us: Vikernes's pseudonym, Count Grishnackh, comes from a character in The Two Towers. The first band he played in was called Uruk-Hai. There's an instrumental piece on his first album called "The Crying Orc". He met many of the individuals that would make up the Norwegian black metal scene through their shared fondness for spirited LARPing. Hell, even the name of the band means "darkness" in the Black Speech. Need we say more?
- Real Life Writes the Plot: His Genre Shift to dark ambient came about because for the duration of his sentence the prison guards refused to allow him record with guitars and basses, only allowing him a keyboard. Yes, prisons in Norway do allow inmates to record dark ambient albums.
- Refuge in Audacity - Varg claimed to have stabbed Euronymous in self defense at his murder trial. Euronymous had 23 wounds on his corpse.
- Although he claims that many of Euronymous's "stabwounds" were actually inflicted by broken glass he threw him down upon (not entirely implausible, considering several of these wounds were on the soles of his feet).
- Self-Titled Album
- Stage Names - Originally, Varg was known as "Count Grishnackh".
- Surprisingly Gentle Song - The ambient instrumentals.
- Three Chords and the Truth: All of Burzum's music is extremely minimalistic, stripped-down and repetitive - most songs are just cycles of two or three recurring riffs. The same principle extends to the production quality, which is deliberately bare and lo-fi - for the recording of the Filosofem album, he even forwent using a guitar amp, instead plugging his guitar into the speaker of his brother's old hi-fi.