First, a quick formula to avoid confusion: Burzum = Count Grishnack = Varg Vikerness!
This album is nothing like early Burzum ('Aske', 'Det Som Engang Var', 'Hvis Lyset Tar Oss' & 'Filosofem'). It has no guitars or vocals and is not black metal. I am a big fan of Count Grishnack's early work but I also love this album - I bought it when it first came out and enjoy it just as much now.
It as a concept album based on the old Norse myths and their application today. The commentary on the tracks is in Norwegian and the summaries are in French and German. Basically it is about the superiority of emotion over logic 'cold logic without emotion cries dry tears' and true Pagan religion over christianity (the religion of death) and it all builds up to the final track, the culmination of Ragnarok.
The music is electronically synthesised and was produced with a synthesizer and tape recorder in a jail cell. It is very simplistic and repetative, but makes excellent background music, and is also good to relax to - just escape and let your imagination carry you where it will! I find it to be soothing, melodic and emotional. Varg Vikerness is fully aware how music influences people mentally ('you are what you listen to') and he is extremely good at evoking moods. The tone varies and there is both sadness and joy, but it is mainly the former. I think Varg clearly demonstrates through his music a yearning for an 'early, better age' (to quote from Aske). The album has an heroic and tragic feel, saturated by the aforementioned dominant Pagan philosophy and spirit. The tracks themselves vary greatly in length from two to ten minutes.
Although it is similar to the later album 'Hlidskjalf' in style, I greatly prefer 'Daudi Baldrs'.
Incidentally, a lot of the music is based on metal songs and 'Jesu Dod' from 'Filosofem' is a metal version of one of them. Varg now states he prefers the metal versions of the tracks on this album, and isn't overly fond of it but likes at least two tracks a lot. (He was more positive on its release, but he now has a guitar in his cell and like the rest of us is looking forward to the release of more 'classic-Burzum' black metal style material when he is freed this year :-) This is likely to include the metal version of at least one track from this album.)
Narrow-minded Burzum fans that are still complaining today should look back at this and remember how radically different it was from Filosofem (which Varg does not seem to consider black metal either)...Some bits are reworkings of other tracks, namely Jesu død and Decrepitude on Filosofem, which he would do again with other tracks on next album Hliðskjálf, and he would later do the reverse with the title track which was reworked into a metal version on Belus...
The synthesizers are primitive and minimalistic but to me this is largely what makes this such a charming, lovable and rather moving album...People who know their black metal will know that those who did dabble in keyboards - Enslaved, Satyricon, Mortiis etc - did use what are by today's standards as I said 'primitive' synths but this adds so much to the atmosphere and character, similarly to the lo-fi riffs in black metal...
This album is clearly very much a Burzum album in terms of composition; it still has that reptitive, cyclical, trance-inducing nature, and stands out from any other to me, being more classical and folky in style than much of its ambient follow up Hliðskjálf, which shows more influence of classic eletronic music like Tangerine Dream and Dead Can Dance..
This does not seem that long (most tracks are short apart from Daudi Baldrs and the last two tracks) but for what is is, considering the circumstances of its recording, it is really good and like any Burzum album (even Belus despite its flaws) is worth buying
Forced to abandon the guitar altogether, Varg recorded this release whilst in prison using keyboards. This album is an attempt to forge a new style of Neo-Nazi folk music in retaliation to liberal music of the west. The rock format is abandoned completely and in its place medieval style music reigns. Although some of the effects employed by Varg sound bizarre or simply naff there is some interesting material which is well worth listening to. Die-hard metal fans should avoid this like the plague so as not to loose all faith in Varg, but if you are in possession of a curious, open mind then this release is recommended. The music can be repetitive, tedious in places, but in other places it has a very magical and spiritual feel, when the naff effects are replaced with a simple piano or string tone, the effect can be stimulating to say the least. There is still the unique Burzum sound present, and the same desire to space out the listener with a repetitive almost meditative style of playing, despite the loss of the conventional guitars and drums Varg can still prove his musicianship and compositional skills. Even though this album fails to live up to the high standards Varg set for himself, it is still a unique look into the mind of one of the most interesting figures in metal, and the beginnings of a potential Neo-Folk/Neo-Nazi movement in Europe.