Det Som Engang Var

Det Som Engang Var

Though Burzum’s third album was recorded in the same window of time (January 1992 to April 1993) as the two that preceded it, it has a personality all its own. With pronounced bass tones and clearer vocals, Det Some Engang Var (Norwegian for “what once was”) has a deeper, more strident pitch than earlier Burzum releases. Varg Vikernes continued to record all the instruments by himself to great effect, and his wraithlike vocals are as intense as ever. “Lost Wisdom” is particularly striking, as Vikernes sings in English, his words spewing forth like some primordial hail: “Other planes lie beyond the reach/Of normal sense and common roads/But they are no less real than what we see or touch or feel.” Much to the delight of more traditional metal fans, the riffs get doomy and bluesy on “Key to the Gate” and “En Ring Til Aa Herske,” though Varg was an outspoken opponent of blues conventions. There’s no doubt that Burzum finds a true identity on more abstract tracks like “Snu Mikrokosmos Tegn,” in which Varg tries to transcend melody and rhythm altogether, while retaining (and intensifying) the infernal rage of heavy metal.

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