Hvis Lyset Tar Oss
Though recorded in September 1992, Hvis Lyset Tar Oss (“if the light takes us” in Norwegian) wasn’t released until April 1994. At that time, Count Grishnackh (a.k.a. Varg Vikernes, the sole member of Burzum) was incarcerated and awaiting sentencing for charges of arson and murder. This album would be the last one released before he started a 17-year prison sentence. His primeval vocals here could be taken as screams of freedom or screams of anguish, but there's no question that this is music of catharsis. With its billowing synths and blurred drumming, “Det Som En Gang Var” (“What Once Was”) seeks to alter the parameters of heavy metal by putting listeners in touch with forces far beyond the conventions of popular music. Though Varg and Burzum would soon be synonymous with metal’s most evil aspects, there's an element of beauty and elegance on Hvis Lyset Tar Oss that makes its darkness even more potent. The delicacy and introspection of Varg’s vision comes out on the closing song, “Tomhet” (“Emptiness”), which uses nothing but fragile melodies on a synthesizer.