Sol Austan, Mani Vestan
With 2013’s Sol Austan, Mani Vestan, Burzum offers the third installment in the trilogy of instrumental works that started while Varg Vikernes was imprisoned and deprived of access to traditional instruments. Finally made when he was free of prison restrictions, Sol Austan, Mani Vestan—Old Norse for “East of the Sun, West of the Moon”—adopts a much more diverse tonal palate than its predecessors, though it retains their solemn, contemplative moods. Inspired by and composed to accompany the ancient pagan rituals that form the bedrock of Varg’s belief system, songs like “Haugaeldr” (“Burial Mound Fire”) and “Heljarmyrkr” (“Death’s Darkness”) can be both soothing and ominous, depending on the listener’s approach. Though the album as a whole is meant to undermine the conventions of the black metal scene, acute listeners may detect reflections of Burzum’s infernal racket within the muted tones of “Runar Munt Bu Finna” (“You Shall Find Secrets”) and “Fedrahellir” (“Forebear-Cave”). Though the music may at first seem anomalous within the tradition of Burzum’s brutal musical attacks, it's actually just as devastating as the band’s noisier masterworks—if not more so.