||It has been suggested that 1992–1997 be merged into this article. (Discuss) Proposed since September 2012.|
Varg Vikernes in 2009
|Genres||Black metal, folk metal, dark ambient|
|Years active||1991–1999, 2009–present|
|Labels||Deathlike Silence, Cymophane, Misanthropy, Byelobog|
|Associated acts||Mayhem, Old Funeral, Darkthrone, Immortal, Emperor|
Burzum (//; Norwegian: [ˈbʉːrsʉːm]) is the musical project of Varg Vikernes. Vikernes began making music in 1988, but it was not until 1991 that he recorded his first demos as Burzum. The word "burzum" means "darkness" in the Black Speech, an artificial language crafted by J. R. R. Tolkien. The project quickly became prominent within the early Norwegian black metal scene. Vikernes recorded the first four Burzum albums between January 1992 and March 1993. However, the releases were spread out, with many months between the recording and the release of each album. In May 1994, Vikernes was sentenced to 21 years in prison for the murder of Mayhem guitarist Øystein 'Euronymous' Aarseth and the arson of three churches.
While imprisoned, Vikernes recorded two dark ambient albums using only synthesizers, as he did not have access to drums, guitar or bass. Since his release from prison in 2009, he has recorded a further three black metal albums. Burzum is one of the most influential acts in black metal; in Metal: A Headbanger's Journey, director Sam Dunn described Vikernes as "the most notorious metal musician of all time".
Early years (1988–1992) 
Vikernes began making music in 1988 with the band Kalashnikov. The following year, the name was changed to Uruk-Hai, after the creatures from J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. In 1990 and 1991, Vikernes played guitar for the death metal band Old Funeral, which also consisted of members who would later form the band Immortal. He appears on the Old Funeral EP Devoured Carcass. Vikernes left Old Funeral in 1991 and began a solo project under the name Burzum. The word "burzum" means "darkness" in the Black Speech; an artificial language crafted by Tolkien. Soon after recording two demo tapes, he became part of the Norwegian black metal scene. With his demo tapes, he had attracted attention from Øystein "Euronymous" Aarseth of Mayhem, who had just recently formed Deathlike Silence Productions. Aarseth then signed Burzum to the label, and shortly after, Burzum began to record for his self-titled debut album. According to Vikernes' autobiography on his website, he had intended to record the album in the worst recording quality possible (due to this being a typical trademark of the early Norwegian black metal scene), though still make it sound acceptable. Burzum's eponymous debut album was released in 1992, being the second album released on Deathlike Silence Productions. The song "War" from this album had a guest appearance from Euronymous, playing a guitar solo "just for fun", according to Vikernes.
Vikernes has stated that he had never played any live shows with Burzum, though at one point was interested in it, so Samoth of Emperor joined the band as their bassist, though only appeared on the Aske EP. Additionally, Erik Lancelot was hired to be the band's drummer, though did not record on any Burzum material, and along with Samoth did not play a live show. Vikernes had by then lost his interest in playing live concerts, and stated that he "didn't even need session musicians anymore". Therefore, Samoth and Lancelot had parted ways with Burzum. Det som engang var was released as Burzum's second album in 1993, recorded in 1992.
Imprisonment (1993–2009) 
May 15, 1994 saw the release of Hvis lyset tar oss, a new album of previously recorded material from 1992. Burzum stayed as a solo project until 1994, when Vikernes was arrested for the murder of Euronymous and the burnings of several churches in Norway. During his time in prison, on January 1, 1996, his next album was released, titled Filosofem. Recorded in March 1993, Filosofem was the last recording before Varg Vikernes' imprisonment. Burzum / Aske, a compilation comprising the Burzum album and Aske EP, was released in 1995. While imprisoned, Vikernes managed to record two other albums in a dark ambient style. They were released as Dauði Baldrs (1997) and Hliðskjálf (1999).
In 1998, all Burzum albums released up to that point were re-released on vinyl in a special box set called 1992-1997, on picture discs, however the Filosofem album didn't contain "Rundtgåing av den transcendentale egenhetens støtte" due to its length.
Post-imprisonment (2009–present) 
Soon after being released Vikernes started writing new tracks, nine metal tracks and an ambient intro and outro, for an upcoming Burzum album. According to Vikernes mentions, several record companies were interested in releasing his first album in eleven years. He stated about the new album, "I want to take my time, and make it the way I want it. It will be metal, and the fans can expect genuine Burzum."
The album was going to be originally titled "Den hvite guden" (The White God), but he later decided to change it to Belus, which was released by Byelobog Productions ("byelobog" is the transliteration of "белобог" in Slavic languages, meaning "whitegod") on March 8, 2010. It has also been announced that a movie will be released in 2010[dated info], based on Varg Vikernes' life in the early 1990s. The movie is mainly drawing inspiration from the book Lords of Chaos, with the film being of the same name. Vikernes expressed his deep contempt towards both the movie and the book upon which it is based.
A second new album of original Burzum material, Fallen, was released on March 7, 2011, followed by a compilation album, From the Depths of Darkness (which contained re-recordings of tracks from Burzum's self-titled album and Det som engang var) on November 28, 2011. A third new studio album of original material, titled Umskiptar, was released in May 2012. Sôl austan, Mâni vestan ('East of the Sun, West of the Moon'), first electronic album since 1999 Hliðskjálf, is scheduled for release in May 2013.
Musical style 
Burzum's music features characteristics common in black metal, including distorted, tremolo-picked guitar riffs, harsh vocals, and the use of double bass "blast beat" techniques in the drumming. Earlier Burzum albums feature very low production quality, which has improved in albums created after Vikernes' release from prison. Burzum's early music shows heavy Tolkien influence; for example, the name "Count Grishnackh" is taken from an orc character called Grishnákh in Tolkien's works. The choice of the name for the project reflects both this influence and the desire for anonymity: "Burzum" is a word of the Black Speech of Mordor meaning "darkness" (though Vikernes views what Christians consider "darkness" as "light"), and is one of those found on the Ring-inscription of the One Ring (the final part of the Ring inscription being "…agh burzum-ishi krimpatul", or "…and in the darkness bind them"). Some of Burzum's early songs featured titles like "En ring til å herske" ("One Ring to Rule").
Musically, Burzum has progressed from primitive, raw black metal to classical-influenced ambient music characterised by minimalist tendencies and dark atmospheres. Vikernes' music is characterised by hypnotic repetition and simple yet profound song structures; this trademark sound has been present on Burzum's black metal and electronic albums alike. Vikernes has described Burzum as a kind of "spell" or recreation of an imaginary world tied in with Pagan history. Each album, he claims, was designed as a kind of "spell" in itself, with each beginning song intending to make the listener more susceptible to "magic", the following songs to inspire a "trance-like state of mind", and the last song to carry the listener into a "world of fantasy" (dreams, for the listener would fall asleep—Burzum was supposed to have been evening music). Vikernes claims the intent to create this fantasy world came from dissatisfaction with the real world. He has stated the "message" of Burzum can be found in the lyrics of the first song of the first album ("Feeble Screams from Forests Unknown").
Main releases 
|Burzum||January 1992||March 1992|
|Aske||August 1992||March 1993||EP|
|Det som engang var||April 1992||August 1993|
|Hvis lyset tar oss||September 1992||May 1994|
|Filosofem||March 1993||January 1996|
|Dauði Baldrs||1994–1995 (in prison)||October 1997||dark ambient album|
|Hliðskjálf||1998 (in prison)||April 1999||dark ambient album|
|Umskiptar||September 2011||May 2012|
|Sôl austan, Mâni vestan||2012||May 2013||instrumental electronic album|
- Burzum Demo I (1991)
- Burzum Demo II (1991)
- Burzum Promo (1992)
Music Videos 
- Dunkelheit (1996)
Compilation albums 
- Burzum / Aske (1995)
- 1992–1997 (1998)
- Anthology (2002) (bootleg)
- Draugen - Rarities (2005) (bootleg)
- Anthology (2008)
- From the Depths of Darkness (2011)
Other appearances 
- Presumed Guilty (1998) (contributed "Et hvitt lys over skogen")
- Gummo soundtrack (1998) (contributed "Rundtgång Av Den Transcendentale Egenhetens Støtte")
- Fenriz Presents... The Best of Old-School Black Metal (2004) (contributed "Ea, Lord of the Depths")
Tributes to Burzum 
- Visions: A Tribute to Burzum (2002)
- A Man, a Band, a Symbol (2003)
- Wotan mit uns! (2003)
- The Tribute (2005)
- Burzum Tribute Attakk (2005)
- Triumph und Wille (2006)
- Lost Freedom (2007)
- A Hungarian Tribute to Burzum: Life Has New Meaning (2008)
- Tribute to Burzum: When the Night Falls - Bethlehem Struluckt (2009)
- A Tribute to Varg Vikernes: Born to Be White (2010)
- Forsvunnet Filosofem: A Tribute to Burzum (2012)
- Current members
- Varg Vikernes – vocals, lyrics, rhythm and lead guitars, bass guitars, drums, synthesizers (1991–present)
- Samoth (Tomas Haugen) – bass guitar on Aske (1992)
- Euronymous (Øystein Aarseth) – guitar solo on "War" and gong on "Dungeons of Darkness" (both from Burzum).
- Vikernes, Varg (2004-12). "A Burzum Story: Part I". Burzum.org. Retrieved 2010-03-06.
- Dunn, Sam (Director) (2005-08-05). Metal: A Headbanger's Journey (motion picture). Canada: Dunn, Sam. http://imdb.com/title/tt0478209/.
- "Greven angrer ingenting Hvem er egentlig denne mannen...". Dagbladet.no. Retrieved 2011-08-20.
- "Burzum Belus 2010". Burzum.org. 2009-12. Retrieved 2011-08-20.
- Vikernes, Varg (2009-11). "A Burzum Story - Part XII: Belus". Burzum.org. Retrieved 2012-06-04.
- Vikernes, Varg (2009-12). "The Lords of Lies: Part VI - The Lords of Chaos Movie". Burzum.org. Retrieved 2011-08-20.
- "Burzum Fallen 2011". Burzum.org. 2011-01. Retrieved 2011-01-18.
- "Burzum From the Depths of Darkness 2011". Burzum.org. Retrieved 2012-06-04.
- "News". Burzum.org. 2012-01-20. Retrieved 2012-01-20.
- Vikernes, Varg. "Paganism: Part III". Retrieved 2008-06-07.
- "Burzum to release new album in March - in Metal News". Metal Underground.com. 2011-01-13. Retrieved 2011-08-20.
- Consterdine, John (May 6, 2013). "Burzum set to release new album ‘Sôl Austan, Mâni Vestan’ in May". Terrorizer. Retrieved April 5, 2013.