Friday, April 18, 2014

Burzum -- "A Lost Forgotten Sad Spirit" (1992)

The dreams of the human in sleep
Are dreams of relief
A gate out of hell
Into the void of death
Yet, undisturbed, the human sleep

Your sleep may not be as undisturbed as it once was after you read this 2 or 3 lines.  And I'm not sure you'll be dreaming "dreams of relief" tonight.

Harris isn't just accused of murdering Gerety.  He's accused of shooting Gerety in the stomach, torturing him for two days, decapitating him with a guitar string, and carrying his head around in a canvas bag so he could practice voodoo with it.

I figure Harris must have been a guitarist.  Otherwise, how would he have known how to remove a string from a guitar and use it as a garrote?

Also, guitarists are generally acknowledged to be the psychos of the music world.  You would never catch a drummer or keyboard player doing what Harris is accused of doing to Gerety -- right?

I could write posts featuring songs by psycho guitarists from now until the cows come home.  Ted Nugent is one obvious example of a guitar player who's a little insane in the membrane, but there are many others.

One of them was Øystein Aarseth, a Norwegian guitarist who co-founded the black metal band, Mayhem.  He went by the name Euronymous, which is the name of the mythological Greek daimon -- or "spirit" -- who watches over rotting corpses in the underworld.

In 1991, one of Euronymous's bandmates -- Per "Dead" Ohlin -- committed suicide by slitting his wrists and shooting himself in the head with a shotgun.  (The dude wasn't taking any chances.)  When Euronymous discovered his dead friend, he went to a store and bought a disposable camera so he could take some photos.  Only then did he call the police.

It was rumored that Euronymous had made a stew with Dead's brain and necklaces from bits of his skull.   The band denied the former, but the latter rumor turned out to be true -- Euronymous made several such necklaces for other extreme metal musicians he admired.

Later in 1991, Euronymous opened a record store he named Helvete -- which is Norwegian for "hell."  A younger guitarist named Varg Vikernes became Euronymous's protégé, living in the record store and playing bass guitar for Mayhem.  

Euronymous also signed Vikernes to his record label, Deathlike Silence Productions, and Vikernes released several solo albums under the name Burzum.  ("Burzum" means "darkness" in Black Speech, which is a fictional language created by J. R. R. Tolkien.)

The two men were part of a group of pals that apparently burned down several churches, but their friendship eventually became a rivalry, with each man attempting to be more evil than the other.

Vikernes won the contest decisively.  In early 1993, he stabbed Euronymous 23 times.  He was eventually arrested and convicted of murder, burning down three churches, attempting to burn down a fourth, and possessing over 300 pounds of explosives.

Varg Vikernes on trial
His sentence for all that was 21 years in prison, which seems a little light.  But 21 years is Norway's maximum penalty.  (On the day of his sentencing, two more churches were burned -- presumably by his friends or sympathizers.)

Vikernes had recorded four albums and an EP in 1992 and 1993.  He recorded two more albums while in prison.  (The authorities wouldn't allow him to have a guitar or bass guitar while in prison -- no fools they! -- so those albums feature synthesizers.)

Vikernes was paroled after serving 15 years of his sentence.  Since his release from prison, he has recorded four more Burzum albums.

Varg Vikernes today
According to Allmusic, his post-imprisonment albums "made the switch from . . . jagged-edged black metal to . . . ambient instrumental sounds." and feature "dark synths and menacing, impossible-to-place textural elements."  Certain of his songs have "an almost new age feel."

Vikernes currently lives in France with his wife and children.  (Norway must be pretty relaxed when it comes to conjugal visits -- two of Vikernes's children were born while he was in the poke.)

Vikernes follows a "nationalist heathen ideology."  Some people say he is essentially a neo-Nazi, but he claims that isn't the case.  

I spent a few minutes trying to figure out his religious and political beliefs, and it gave me a headache.  So you're on your own as far as that goes.

But I have to admit that I really like Burzum's music.  You probably think I'm crazy to feel that way about it.  Of course, you probably decided a long time ago that I was crazy.  (If you didn't, you just haven't been paying attention.)

From the Depths of Darkness album cover
You remember Freegal, the free music download service offered by many public libraries?  There are ten Burzum albums available from Freegal -- that's 81 free songs altogether -- so I've got to get busy!

Vikernes has recorded several different versions of "A Lost Forgotten Sad Spirit."  It originally appeared on Burzum's eponymous debut album, which was produced by Euronymous -- the man Vikernes murdered -- and released on his record label in 1992.

Here's the newest version of the song, which was released on his 2011 album, From the Depths of Darkness.

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

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