Varg Vikernes had been in prison for a year when he started recording Dauði Baldrs, and it took him a good year to finish writing it. Since he didn’t have access to the instruments he did in his past albums, (I can only imagine what his tortured screams and cold riffs would be like in prison) he used a computer sound program called MIDI to record the album. Though he would later record a second album in prison that was pretty good (this time with an actual keyboard rather than a sound program), his first prison album just lacked in atmosphere and musical progression.
The sound on this album is a hell of a lot more confined than anything I would consider atmospheric. Since it’s just a computer program, the sound doesn’t reverberate at all. Judging from the album artwork and the instruments his sound program is mimicking (piano, violin, other old-fashioned instruments) he tries to get a medieval feeling across. Every time I start the album, the atmosphere works well, but the way he repeats it damages the overall feeling of the music so much as to strip away whatever atmosphere there could have been. Varg decides to make a simple A-B-C pattern, which sounds pretty decent on the first listen, but he loops it once or twice within one song. I’m okay with repetition, but if a 2 or 3 minute section is looped twice or even one time without any subtle changes in the background, it can drain a lot of the intended atmosphere. Because of this, it makes the shorter songs seem to stand out more, because they aren’t long enough for the repetition to wear you down.
The best songs here for me are the final two: Illa tiðandi and Móti Ragnarokum. But like I said, they are wrecked by repetition. It’s especially frustrating since the initial musical patterns are really good. There just isn’t really enough progression in either song to bring them up to the standards of Varg’s latter ambient album, Hliðskjálf
. At least with Móti Ragnarokum, the patterns change more frequently and the song progresses more, but it still did not need to be ten minutes long.
So all in all, for those of you out there that have liked Varg’s previous ambient songs like “Channeling the Power
of Souls into a New God
” or “Han Som Rieste,” you’ll be disappointed. This album doesn’t really reflect his previous ambient songs at all, and I guess there are some people who love this album. Maybe I would have too if the songs had been shorter, less repetitive, and had more songs. In other words, that’s just what Hliðskjálf
is. If you’re dying to hear one of Varg’s prison albums, listen to Hliðskjálf