Norway's most prestigious arsonist is out of jail and he's hit the ground running releasing his first metal album since 1996's Filosofem. While the motivations behind Belus' existence can (and will endlessly) be volleyed we have a pretty decent return to form. The overall sound leaves a bit to be desired. I liken it to something like Gorgoroth's "Destroyer" or something. Guitars recorded direct, drums buried beneath the guitars, etc, you know the drill. The riffing is really all over the place, its pretty clear that he spent some time playing guitar in jail but never actually got around to being good at it. Musically it's still somewhere between Mayhem's only good album "De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas" and Burzum's "Filosofem." You'd have to be a fool to hear this and not see that Euronymous' riffing style rubbed off on Varg as he planted a knife deep within his back 23 times. To me, Varg's strong point is his use of guitar harmony which really is a cornerstone of black metal and here he uses it as much as we are used to and to great effect. He has started using more complex riffing with a picking style more akin to death metal or tech-thrash type stuff, and I find it rather distracting. On the song "Sverddans" he uses it to beat a dead horse to death and its pretty drab and boring. There are other parts on the album where its pretty bothersome and redundant how incessantly he carries on with it but its not like he's trying to be Spiral Architect here.
Like the guitar work his drumming has improved a hair as well. His nothing flashy meat & potato chips approach on the former albums worked just fine, hes stepped it up a notch here to keep up with the times. It seems like it may just be a byproduct of whatever stupid ethos hes got rattling around in his head these days but it is significant and it does pair well with the 8% more intricate song writing and guitar work.
Atmospherically speaking I've always applauded Burzum for being able to muster that black metal sound that made him famous because he really is good at it, and with its prevalence here on Belus' it will make this a memorable album that stand out among what else is going on nowadays. Its relevance though I find dated and I feel sorta the same way I did about Beherit's come back album. I guess I could say i'm impressed by it and I'll be curious to hear what he comes up with until the next time he tries to take over the band of a mustached norwegian by stabbing him in the back.