Burzum The Ways of Yore has, in the two years which have elapsed since its publication, received a very odd mixture of reactions. It has either been completely shunned as the work of a madman writing nonsensical empty music, or intuited to be a work of deep spirituality by those attuned to the simple and balanced as a way to beauty. I am willing to assert that the reason for this is that it operates completely outside the paradigm of modern music.
The music is a mixture between Burzum’s ambient-styled tracks and ancient European music as one would hear in the Anglo-Saxon harp/lyre style1, for instance. The result leans heavily towards the latter, however, leaving even fans of Burzum who only perceive form but not essence at a loss. As a whole, Burzum’s transition from black metal forms into dark ambient ones, and then further into ancient-traditiona Europeanl hybrid crossings with his own ambient intuitions served as a clear separator amongst the audience. It separated those who attune to the music’s basic elements and are not nailed to modern prejudices or the necessity of being convinced by words and apparent conjurations.
Some among the most ignorant in the audience may want to jump at the swastikas they see on the cover, even going as far as condemning it as a covert sign of white supremacy excusing itself with the fact that swastikas were present in Buddhism hundreds of years ago and continue to be used to this very day. What is required here is a lesson in the symbol of the Swastika and its 12,000-year-old history.
“The earliest swastika ever found was uncovered in Mezine, Ukraine, carved on an ivory figurine, which dates an incredible 12,000 years, and one of the earliest cultures that are known to have used the Swastika was a Neolithic culture in Southern Europe, in the area that is now Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, known as the Vinca Culture, which dates back around 8,000 years.”
—Ancient Origins, ‘The symbol of the Swastika and its 12,000-year-old history’
The allusion is made to ancient pagan and naturalist religions of Europe existing long before the invasion of the desert religions2, and surviving in mutilated and morphed forms in spite of it. A good companion to this album, apart from the obvious Reflections on European Mythology and Polytheism by Varg Vikernes himself, are books like The Mabigonion, a cycle of Welsh legends translated in 1877 by Lady Charlotte Guest.
1 One of the most prominent performers of the ancient lyre today is Michael Levy. Ironically, he has increasingly been promoted as a player of Greek traditional music despite his true background and experience, perhaps as a very smart marketing move towards a more profitable market.
2 An at least cursory understanding of the themes and concepts explained by Sir James Frazer in his The Golden Bough is needed to grasp Varg Vikernes current stance on European art and traditions, I believe.