With summer fully baking down upon us the season brings us many delightful gifts: The warm weather which draws out the ladies in the newest most revealing couture; A slew of concert festivals and of course new vinyl releases for everyone to criticize. Somehow people have a love/hate relationship with the musicians and artists that they hold so dear. While they want new music, they don't want it to be different than what they already know. The flip side is they want you to change but never in the direction that the artists choose. It's a damned if I do and damned if I don't predicament. Artists will always be judged upon their previous output.

I have been highly anticipating the new Burzum album since hearing the title of the double LP Umskiptar, which translates Metamorphoses in old Norse tongue. Of course, I waited for the vinyl to take my first listen. The most interesting thing about this record to me is the amount of bad reviews it immediately acquired. It seems that everyone has an opinion on Burzum. Whether you're a fan of his music or are just fascinated by a man who is clearly insane and also a genius... Varg Vikernes is always a controversial topic throughout the musical world.

With a title like Umskiptar (Metamorphoses), you already gotta know that things are changing for old Count Grishnackh. Fans and critics alike had already been grumbling about the collection of re-recorded songs that Burzum released in 2011 entitled From The Depths Of Darkness. More’s the proof that you can never really go back. I was excited to hear the record that everyone loved to hate. It's too slow, too much spoken word...boring etc. This is a good sign that the listeners who only allow themselves to really receive and enjoy music based off of reviews are truly guided by the likes of Pitchfork, Vice and whatever other blog who's opinions they value so highly. Let's face it, the prison records weren't even close to his catalog pre incarceration. I actually still dig on the moody atmosphere created on "Hlidskjalf." Much like his prison records of over a decade ago, Umskiptar relies on a heavy atmosphere that swirls around like fog through a damp and darkened forest. The presence of spoken word Norse mythology and storytelling make for an epic journey through the mind of a man whose ideologies change as often as his chainmail. The presence the album has is captivating. Through the furious guitar riffing and evil vocals Varg creates a world that draws you in like a good book or movie whose ending is unforeseen.

There will always be the die-hard fans of "True Norwegian Black Metal" that can't stomach keyboards or drum production better than banging on tin cans. Please, hold on tightly to your narrow-minded scope of music. Someday it will cycle around again in younger generations and provide you with new pals to go drinking with. True art cannot be contained within a definition or boundaries that limit and restrict further supporting a system of regurgitation based on predetermined parameters.

In a world comprised of people that continue to lose sight of anything of importance and gradually let happiness slip through their fingers. I continue to find solace in that I take the time and chances to decide for myself what I like. Relying on others to convince you of your own taste is futile. Life is so much more exciting when you embrace change and open yourself up to be free. Check out Umskiptar and allow yourself to be surprised. In MY opinion it is worth a real listen!

-Pete Majors


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