Top positive review
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65 minutes of pure skaldic metal
on 6 June 2012
SUMMARY: Umskiptar means Metamorphoses, and this is truly a concept album. The vocals are mostly clean, deep and powerful. The tempo is slower than on "Fallen", and there is even more atmosphere. Use has also been made of a lure and an old grand piano. I really don't think Varg is capable of releasing a bad album: Whatever else you think of him, he is a musical genius.
DETAIL: Similarly to Belus, I was initially disappointed with this album and I really had to listen to it quite a few times to fully appreciate it. Now I love it. It is again a different musical style, even to "Fallen", to which it is most similar. Often minimalist and deceivingly simple at first listen, it lacks true harsh vocals, and has less metal elements. However, the metal elements are still essential to the sound. There is a lot of variety in vocals with spoken passages and some very tuneful singing such as on my favourite track "Galgvidr": This really stands out in the passages where minimal instrumentation is used. I now can't stop singing along to that song even though I don't know the actual words!
There is a lot of emotion, predominantly melancholy, packed into this album. The lyrics are all from the Old Norse epic poem Völuspá, which Varg has translated himself in his book "Sorcery And Religion In Ancient Scandinavia". Finally, great use is made of Burzum's now trademark hypnotic repetition, especially on the longer tracks. This is also accomplished better than ever before by changing instruments through a song, for example on the amazing "Alfadanz" and the aforementioned "Galgvidr".
The digibook is good quality and it is well worth buying this edition. The booklet contains the lyrics as sung, which are in original Norse.
Varg previously said he might turns his attention to re-recording songs off "Hvis Lyset Tar Oss" and "Filosofem" but has more recently said "No, I don't think I will re-record other tracks, as both "Hvis Lyset tar oss" and "Filosofem" had a sound I am still happy with - to some extent anyway.".
I. Blóðstokkinn (Soaked in Blood) (1:16)
II. Jóln (Deities) (5:51)
III. Alfadanz (Elven Dance) (9:22)
IV. Hit helga Tré (The sacred Tree) (6:51)
V. Æra (Honour) (3:58)
VI. Heiðr (Esteem) (3:02)
VII. Valgaldr (Song of the Fallen) (8:03)
VIII. Galgviðr (Gallow Forest) (7:16)
IX. Surtr Sunnan (Black from the South) (4:14)
X. Gullaldr (Golden Age) (10:20)
XI. Níðhöggr (Attack from Below) (5:00)