Saturday, September 24, 2011

Burzum - Et Hvitt Lys Over Skogen (1993)

Count Grishnackh was a busy man, in the early 90s. In a very short span of time, he recorded the material for all of the classic Burzum albums, yet never allowing the level of quality to drop as a result. It had nothing to do with trying to generate a lot of revenue or to impress anyone; he was simply that creative and passionate about what he was doing. As a result of holding himself to a high standard, some material ended up taking a little more time than others to finally appear on a proper album, while others never made the cut. Such is the case with Et Hvitt Lys Over Skogen.

Somehow, I managed to be completely in the dark about the existence of this bootleg, for several years after having collected all of the available Burzum releases. Once I read about it, however, I was obsessed with tracking it down. Not to a psychotic level, since the demo material was less-than-impressive, but with average expectations. Upon hearing it for the first time, I was stunned that this failed to make it onto one of the official albums. I also assumed that it was recorded during the Hvis Lyset Tar Oss session, but most research has placed the recording of the song in the summer of 1992, during the Aske session. At any rate, this discovery was like receiving a gift from the past. At the time, there was still a lot of speculation as to whether or not the criminal Norwegian government would keep Varg imprisoned forever, as well as debate over the chances that he would ever record music again. And even still, it would never sound like the early stuff. So this one final treasure from the past was unearthed and enjoyed ever since.

"Et Hvitt Lys Over Skogen" is a somewhat lengthy song, approaching the ten-minute mark. As expected, everything about this falls in line with the rest of the material from that period. Recorded in Grieghallen, it possesses the same guitar tone that is present on the old albums, though it does not sound as if it has been properly mastered. Despite being a little rough around the edges, this is classic Burzum. The main riffs are all kind of catchy, which was sometimes the case with the Count's songwriting. It is mid-paced and even a little upbeat, in a sense, but the tortured screams are what really make this stand out. The vocals convey a feeling of intense hatred and misery, and the listener can truly feel this as the song plays. When really paying close attention to this, it is not terribly difficult to see why the track was not used; this kind of repetition is not exactly conducive to the same type of atmosphere that is found in the other songs, and the aura is not quite dark enough. Chances are, if not for the fact that it was 'lost' for some years, most may consider it kind of average. Things get more interesting, later in the song, but it takes a little too long in getting there. This definitely could have been worked on a little more and perhaps used for a later record, in a more focused and concise form; nonetheless, this never happened.

Side B contains "Lost Wisdom", but there really is nothing to say about this that has not already been said in the review for Det Som Engang Var, and the truth of the matter is that the title track is the main attraction, here.

Et Hvitt Lys Over Skogen offers a look into the past and allows Burzum fans to get a little more classic material, when most would have assumed that this was impossible. It is not the very best song ever composed by Count Grishnackh, but it rests somewhere in the middle range and is certainly worth hearing if you prefer the earlier approach to songwriting and vocal delivery.