Friday, April 15, 2011

Burzum- Fallen (2011)

The other day, my friend was describing a James Baldwin novel to me. I had asked whether it was great or not, but instead he decided to present the book to me as a Frankenstein's monster of dismembered parts. He told me exuberantly how this novel incorporated the subject matter from one of Baldwin's other books, the style from another, the politics from another. To me, of course, this paint-by-numbers critical approach to an artist's oeuvre leaves completely unanswered the question of whether a work is worthwhile. Instead we find ourselves in an infinite regress: as though what made Go Tell It On The Mountain a great work was its "sharing elements with Go Tell It On the Mountain" (!)

Varg Vikernes describes Burzum's new album as: "…a cross between Belus and something new, inspired more by the debut album and Det Som Engang Var than by Hvis Lyset Tar Oss or Filosofem."

We have all seen parodies of this artistic logic in any satire of how Hollywood works. A producer is pitching his new sitcom/movie to an executive: "It's a cross between Barbarella and Laverne & Shirley! It's a cross between Spiderman and Meet The Parents!"

The idea in black metal, evidently, is that there is a niche audience who, if they can describe an album in certain adjectives (or, *sigh*... regrettable angsty prose-poems) will be happy... regardless of whether an album's riffs are catchy, or whether the songs are boring. It is another version of the sex-starved teenager who will swear that ANY nude photo of a blonde with fake boobs is "so fucking hot" so as to demonstrate just how straight and virile he is. So, a black metal song can be as bad as you please, but as long as it "sounds like an outtake from Filosofem..." the woeful spirit signs off on it for being "gloriously mournful." This is just to sign away one's critical faculties over to the authority of the sticker on the cover of the CD.

All we learn from any of these examples is that it will always be possible to cynically peddle one's wares to an audience that demands only that something fit a certain Venn diagram of already-known styles and sounds. 1000 monkeys typing at a 1000 typewriters for 1000 years may not be able to produce the works of Shakespeare... but they definitely COULD write "a cross between Othello and Macbeth"--provided this pollination were all that was wanted. To certain metal fans, undoubtedly no more is expected.

As with the teenager described above, it is stupid to argue about the merits of this album. If anyone tells you that it is anything BUT corny, repetitive, pretentious, unmemorable, lightweight, and sort-of irritating, that person is just playing dress-up with their listening experience. This album is garbage.

If said moron insists, "No, it sounds like Filosofem... but with fast parts!" Well... I don't disagree. The only difference is that it sucks. That's a difference that matters to me...