Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Burzum began in 1987 as a prominent Norwegian black metal solo project. It was formed by Varg Vikernes (born Kristian Vikernes), under the name of Count Grishnackh. Vikernes is currently serving a prison sentence in Trondheim, Norway for murder and arson. Vikernes and his project were instrumental in the crystallization of early black metal, much of which is due to the infamy attributed to Vikernes since the murder of his rival Ųystein Aarseth. Aarseth, known better to some by his stage name of Euronymous, played guitar for the well-known Norwegian black metal band Mayhem.
In 1988 or 1989, Varg Vikernes formed a group called Kalashnikov (named for the Kalashnikov assault rifle), which eventually changed its name to Uruk-Hai. Uruk-Hai is the name for the orc race of Middle-earth from the works of J. R. R. Tolkien. In 1989, Vikernes broke away from Uruk-Hai to join the death metal act Old Funeral . Uruk-Hai's drummer and bassist, Vikernes claims, were neither serious nor talented musicians, but this was not the case with the members of Old Funeral (who eventually went on to form the notorious black metal group Immortal). Vikernes remained with Old Funeral for two years, deciding in 1991 to create a solo project instead, in which he could write and record a "more original and personal type of music" (some consider Burzum to be a progression of the band Uruk-Hai, for several of the same riffs are used in Vikernes' compositions). Varg intended the Burzum project to be an anonymous effort, which was the reason behind his taking the name of Count Grishnackh.
Burzum's early music shows a moderate Tolkien influence; for example, the name Count Grishnackh is taken from an orc character called Grishnįkh in Tolkien's works. The choice of the name for the project reflects both this influence and the desire for anonymity: "Burzum" is a word of the Black Speech of Mordor meaning "darkness", and is therefore to be found on the Ring-inscription of the One Ring. Some of Burzum's early songs featured titles like "En Ring Til Å Herske" ("One Ring To Rule"); however, Vikernes later explained this to be a reference to the Rheingold of Norse mythology rather than to Tolkien's works, which themselves owe some debt to Norse mythology. As he continued to release albums, Vikernes' attraction to Norse mythology and Pagan beliefs became more and more apparent. Much of Burzum's later work focuses on Norse legends, especially his most recent two ambient albums: Dauši Baldrs, which deals exclusively with the legend of the death of Baldr, and Hlišskjįlf, which recounts the death of Wotan and the approach of Ragnarok.
Musically, Burzum has progressed from primitive, raw black metal to classical-influenced ambient music characterized by minimalist tendencies and dark atmospheres. Vikernes' music is generally considered to be characterized by hypnotic repetition and simple yet profound song structures; this trademark sound has been present on Burzum's black metal and synthieval albums alike. Vikernes has described Burzum as a kind of "spell" or recreation of an imaginary world tied in with Pagan history. Each LP or CD, he claims, was designed as a kind of "spell" in itself, with each beginning song intending to make the listener more susceptible to "magic", the following songs to inspire a "trance-like state of mind", and the last song to carry the listener into a "world of fantasy" (dreams, for the listener would fall asleep - Burzum was supposed to have been evening music). Vikernes claims that the intent to create this fantasy world came from dissatisfaction with the real world. He has stated that the "message" of Burzum can be found in the lyrics of the first song of the first album (Feeble Screams From Forests Unknown); that following lyrics act as footnotes.
Currently, Vikernes is in prison for the murder of his former friend and fellow musician Ųystein Aarseth (Euronymous of Mayhem), as well as the arson of several ancient Norwegian churches. Vikernes is suspected to have taken part in various other crimes, and was believed to have been planning another church burning at the time of his arrest (police found 100 kg of explosives in his home). Vikernes was formerly a member of the far-right extremist group "Hvit Arisk Motstand" ("White Aryan Resistance"), and was once involved with the "Norsk Hedensk Front" ("Norwegian Heathen Front"). He has expressed interest in Neo-Nazism and has written several books dealing with his worldview. Vikernes has released two Burzum albums from prison: Dauši Baldrs and Hlišskjįlf. Both albums rely only on keyboards and - in Vikernes' own estimation - are not related to the black metal genre. The Filosofem (1996) album was released to the public after Vikernes had been imprisoned. Vikernes has renounced any connection with black metal and heavy metal music in general.
- Burzum - (1992) (Reis. 1995)
- Aske [EP] - (1993)
- Det Som Engang Var - (1993)
- Hvis Lyset Tar Oss - (1994)
- Filosofem - (1996)
- Dauši Baldrs - (1997)
- Hlišskjįlf - (1999)
Live and compilation releases
- Et Hvitt Lys Over Skogen [BOOTLEG] - (1992)
- Burzum & Gorgoroth [BOOTLEG] - (1993)
- Svarte Dauen [BOOTLEG] - (1993)
- Burzum Unreleased Demos [BOOTLEG] - (1994)
- Blast From The Ancient Past... No Less! [BOOTLEG] - (1999)
- Burzum Unreleased Demo [BOOTLEG] - (2000)
- Ragnarok (A New Beginning) [BOOTLEG] - (2000)
- ...Was Einst War [BOOTLEG] - (2001)
- Once Emperor [BOOTLEG] - (2002)
- Anthology [BOOTLEG] - (2002)
- Burzum/Svarte Dauen [BOOTLEG] - (2003)
- Dauši Baldrs/Burzum & Gorgoroth [BOOTLEG] - (2003)
- Hlišskjįlf/Aske [BOOTLEG] - (2003)
- Filosofem/Demo [BOOTLEG] - (2003)
- Det Som Engang Var/Ragnarok I (A New Beginning [BOOTLEG] - (2003)
- Hvis Lyset Tar Oss/Ragnarok II (A New Beginning) [BOOTLEG] - (2003)
- Beneath The Ruins Of Christianity [BOOTLEG] - (2004)
- Erste Waffen [BOOTLEG] (2004)
- Winterliche Reinheit [BOOTLEG] (2004)
- Count Grishnackh (Varg Vikernes) - Vocals, guitar, keyboard, bass, drums - (1991-2000)
- Samoth (Tomas Haugen) - Bass - (1993)
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