Varg Vickerness is a man with quite an impressive output of work, in recent years, at least, since he got out of prison. "From the Depths of Darkness" is his second work of the year, although one which is completely different in nature from the studio album released earlier in the year. This is a re-recordings album, taking material from the bands self-titled album, and from "Det som Engang Var", and re-recording them "as they were originally intended", which is, in the hands of most musicians, a scary phrase.
The album is definitely one which will make people evaluate it, whether they set out to or not - Re-recordings are always thus. If all of the attributes of the originals and the re-recordings were averaged out, they would perhaps not be as far apart as people are proclaiming, but one thing is definite - Each has distinctly different merits, and because of this, I'm hazarding to say that it's quite difficult to say which is superior in my eyes, because there is definitely more than one dimension to the difference. On one hand, the vocals have changed into Vargs more modern style, as opposed to his rabid howl from those days, which seems to be greeted in fairly equal measure with disdain and approval. Personally, I'm quite unconcerned by the vocal change, finding both fairly enjoyable. The changes in production catch my attention more; It's clearer, and definitely a bit more crunchy, which leaves open a nice window to hear the intricacies not apparent in the original recordings, but at the same time, there isn't the same unique reverb which cements the originals in my mind. Nonetheless, I can certainly come to enjoy the new production, which does make it sound a lot more "black-metal" than before, in terms of the sounds thickness.
The album in general certainly revitalises the songs to an extent - and it's interesting to listen to the differences, and to have the songs with a slightly different angle cast upon them this time, which has always been a highlight of re-recording albums to me. The differences are pretty much all that can be focused upon when it comes to albums like this, considering that all of the songs were well written the first time around, not much can be said about that, and the same is true of any changes in direction; there aren't any, unless making re-recordings counts as a change in direction. Nonetheless, it's good to hear Varg playing material of the style of the first few albums, but with modern production, and it certainly makes me hope that it's a direction that he heads on with whatever original material he produces next. An album like this would certainly be more than satisfactory.
Re-recording albums are definitely a bit hit-and-miss, generally speaking. Burzum seems to have done quite reasonably on this one though - Perhaps it's not a critical blow, but it definitely not a miss, and it seems so far to be a lot better than a re-recording album by a certain other Norwegian black-metal outfit which I will be reviewing in the near future.
I'm giving this 7/10.
Burzum Official site
Burzum on Metal Archives