Tag Archives: norway

festival review: Ihsahn live at Bangalore Open Air, 2013

And now the fanboy speaks…

The only reason I had decided to travel all the way to Bangalore, almost a month back, was to see one of my favorite black metal vocalists and musician extraordinaire Vegard Sverre Tveitan in flesh, also known as Ihsahn to the world. When Emperor had dis-banded it was like a personal loss to me because I knew I’d never see them play live or record an album again. But that was that.

ihsahn live at bangalore open air 2013 absurd history 03

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In 2005, Ihsahn formed a band under the same monicker to experiment with the various ideas that his creative and passionate mind kept coming up with. Not black metal by definition, Ihsahn made sure the underlying theme remains dark and picked up from where he left off on Prometheus – The Discipline of Fire & Demise, Emperor‘s 2005 release. Hence the progressive nature of the music on all of his solo works.

ihsahn guitarist live at bangalore open air 2013 absurd history 02

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When Ihsahn stepped on the stage with his guitar, I simply couldn’t believe that I was staring into his eyes. He was the same man who wasn’t into any kind of politics when the black metal scene erupted in Norway in the early-1990’s. Instead he made more and more music to make his point. It took me, personally, a good ten minutes to survive the fact that I’ve seen a person who encouraged me to get my first tattoo dedicated to him, who opened new avenues in my mind, who made black metal my lifestyle and was influential to me in so many more ways.

ihsahn guitarist live at bangalore open air 2013 absurd history 03

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This multi-instrumentalist performed tracks from Eremita, which released in 2012 as well as tracks from all of his previous releases After (2010), angL (2008) and The Adversary (2006). The years have been mentioned besides the album names in order to show his consistency as a musician. Although Ihsahn is a solo project the live members include Tobias Ørnes Andersen (drums), Tor Oddmund Suhrke (guitars, backing vocals), Øystein Landsverk (guitars, backing vocals), Einar Solberg (keyboards, additional vocals), Rein T. Blomquist (bass) – All of whom are members of Leprous from Norway. Leprous were also part of Bangalore Open Air and they performed just before Ihsahn on the Ronnie James Dio stage.

ihsahn live at bangalore open air 2013 absurd history 01

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A legend made an appearance in India, entertained us, even said he was very happy for being able to make it and left me and I’m sure many others speechless by his humility, stage presence and undying love for music. It is moments like these that remain stored in a shell inside our subconscious mind and it is moments like these that make life worth living. I know Emperor fans are still trying to get their head around the fact that they actually saw Ihsahn, and we all should thank the organizers of Bangalore Open Air for making an intelligent and worthy choice. All the way from Norway!

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[ Pictures – courtesy of Khushboo Sinha. Everybody head over to the link to check out more of her work here: Khushboo Sinha’s tumblr page ]

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album review : Umskiptar (2012) – Burzum

album : Umskiptar

artist : Burzum

genre : Black Metal, Ambient

year : 2012

The story so far…

By now you know everything about this one man who single-handedly annihilates every description of black metal. Google would help you, and not your god, to get to know Varg Vikernes better. The most read articles on Absurd History ever are the reviews of links : Belus and Fallen which are Burzum‘s last two releases. You can even go through them to get an idea about this man who should be the only person commenting on true black metal. But if you have noticed he has never opened his mouth or spoken about his music. That’s says it all about him.

Three years have passed by since Varg Vikernes a.k.a. Burzum (also known as Count Grishnackh) was released from prison. During and before the Hliðskjálf years, Burzum had already usurped the throne of metal’s most underground genre and moved on ahead. In 2010, the man with the dark touch was ready to burn down every established black metal act. Belus happened, and lives changed. The formula was repeated in 2011, and Fallen brought out the black clouds out of the sky yet again. Now, we are in 2012, hearing Umskiptar. Can you feel your erect hair everywhere on you? It is an indication that the bell has been rung, and the year’s most awaited release is here to show you how important your time is.

Umskiptar (2012)…

So what do we have here? Another masterpiece or a strong man’s silent efforts to make everybody obey him? We are looking at a fully charged and matured musician out with his tunes where he reads out verses from a Norse poem, Völuspá. When he said vocals are going to be the most important aspect of Umskiptar, he bloody meant it. What you hear in abundance are the words performed entirely in Icelandic. And if you’re thinking that there has been a compromise in music then let me assure you, my friends, that Burzum has taken himself out of his own boundaries to compile a release that will trample albums without any efforts.

Be very scared of the intro that is named Blóðstokkinn (meaning ‘Soaked in Blood’), for if you do not obey the master you are in for a thrashing which follows in about a minute. For the first time Varg speaks on his intro music, which has chilling beats in the background. Jóln (meaning ‘Deities’) pulls the cloth and we are already participating in the yearly Burzum ceremony. Bring out your dancing attires and robes, because the music is in established Burzum-style. Lush riffs, persistent guitaring and entirely thematic in its approach, there is no difference on song number two and what we know this man for.

As you spend six precious minutes of your life breathing in Varg‘s breath coming out of your speakers, lined up next is a totally unexpected piece of piano intro. It’s called Alfadanz (meaning ‘Elven Dance’). The piano is then transformed in exact same fashion into guitars and drums, carrying the story forward with more determination. I did not realize the nine and a half minutes that passed by during Alfadanz. That happened due to a plain fact that even though you are three songs into Umskiptar you are still reeling under the pleasant shock as to how poetry, folk, darkness and the instruments are all woven together into one record. This song goes slow, and at places releases loads of energy at once with some tricky benders.

Song number four is Hit Helga Tré (meaning ‘The Sacred Tree’). Progressing at the same rate as before, Hit Helga Tré ushers some more grimacing facets and it has harmonies that should be respected for they pause the proceedings in your mind. On the next two songs Burzum talks about honour and esteem. I don’t need to add separately that these qualities have already been showcased on Burzum‘s previous records. Æra (meaning ‘Honour’) and Heiðr (meaning ‘Esteem’) are short, to-the-point, final words on the two qualities which are less about the music and more about the concrete meanings.

Fold your hands as the next three songs are prayers. Valgaldr (meaning ‘Song of the Fallen’), Galgviðr (meaning ‘Gallow Forest’) and Surtr Sunnan (meaning ‘Black from the South’) take you into a fantasy world and to understand what I’m saying you need to just translate the lyrics. Do that much. With consoling twin guitar work and almost no-drums, Varg isn’t in a hurry, as he croons the passages gently so it reaches us. The album’s longest song, at over ten minutes, Gullaldr (meaning ‘Golden Age’) is a one-sided conversation where we, the audiences, gain Norse wisdom. Beautifully put together, the entrancing epic phrases are unfolded, so this one’s about the ambience. The album sealer Níðhöggr (meaning ‘Attack from Below’) mixes and matches various instruments to produce sound that makes sense as the doors to Burzum‘s ninth full-length are seen closing.

Not the ultimatum, the tale continues…

Although many around would see this as a black metal ultimatum being issued by Varg, but it is only a matter of another year or so before he will come down heavily with another biggie. He does not make an appearance, nor does he comment on anything unnecessary. He only enters the studio, records his albums, and gives them to us lowly creatures so we can continue discovering the meaning of our lives. Far from the disturbing world, in one corner of the planet we have this person named Burzum who caters to the known as well as the unknown aspects of the glorious nature of black metal. Bow down.

Rating : 4.5/5


album review : Norrøn (2011) – Einherjer

album : Norrøn

artist : Einherjer

genre : Viking Metal

year : 2011

Nordic mythology always had tailor made music by Einherjer – a band that is a product of the same culture. The viking theme nestled in the arms of their songs right from the band’s inception. They had called it quits in 2004, and Norrøn is the band’s fifth full-length and their first after reforming in 2008. A long break of eight years from composing epic tracks has cost them dearly as the tracks on Norrøn are uneventful, forcing me to lose faith in Einherjer. Only a song, or at max two, drove me to spare a thought about the subject they always touch upon. Norrøn is a half-baked version of what the band set out to make in 1993. I’m disappointed, and this album does not deserve more than two spins.

Key tracksVarden Brenne, Atter På Malmtings Blodige Voll

Rating : 2.5/5


Metal Decade for India

Prelude –

Coming December would mark the last month of the decade and such things have never elated me. But this year it would be different. I have been a part of a movement, I have seen it all happen and I feel proud. Rounding up an epic decade for the Indian metal scene are some bands that had to be watched before resting in peace.

Two Thousand and Seven : The Penetration –

Although the first half was sulky it was 2007 when Iron Maiden decided to seal each of those person’s ass who thought metal does not exist in India. It was Rock in India’s first gig and it turned out to be a massive gig that got down metalheads not only from our nation but the neighbouring ones. I was infact almost crushed in that hysteric crowd. In 2008, they followed it up with another gig that marked the start of a world tour of the kind even they had not done before. And this brought all the remaining and much needed attention to India. Everything was noticed and things got to the other side of the world too. Thanks to Sam Dunn. Since then Maiden has played thrice in India. Both times I attended Bangalore and had missed the Bombay one. Sepultura did a three city tour in two thousand and seven itself and are yet to make their second trip.

Back in 2006 Great Indian Rock had invited Enslaved to Delhi and I was not as fortunate as the ones who saw them then. That ofcourse is history now. And we owe a lot to the first Maiden concert.

Since then we have had a spate of international gigs featuring bands that had made us pull out our hair and left us frustrated for not being blessed enough to be able to watch them. But now when I look back and think about the 3 years that have passed by I realize that a lot has happened around me. I no longer feel negative about the fact that I was born in India. If I chronicle the bands that arrived with their gears to perform in India I read a whole bunch of names – Iron Maiden, Megadeth, SepulturaLamb of God, Opeth, Satyricon, Ensiferum, Amon Amarth, Enslaved, EluveitieSahg, Machine Head, Hammerfall, Nervecell, TexturesRudra, De Profundis. Totally not bad.

Two Thousand and Eight –

In 2008, Dave Mustaine and troupe hit India to play a one-off gig following the release of United Abominations. This was the second edition of Rock in India and they were going strong. The only band out of the big four to have played India, Megadeth have not returned yet so I haven’t been given a chance to make up for my mistake of not going for their 2008 Bangalore gig. American band Machine Head had played alongside Megadeth. Although I had not heard more than one album of Machine Head before their gig, I did have the hangover of missing the whole event.

The same year India got a taste of how a live Norwegian black metal act looks and seems when they perform live. Satyricon headlined GIR-2008. I remember posing as a fake journalist and roaming around the lobby of this hotel they were put up in. Sick days. Saw Frost and did not get scared. Drank beer with King and even felt like one. Heavy doom band Sahg had supported Satyricon for the tour and I had comfortably made it to the front row for their set as only a few were interested. Thanks a lot, Amit Sehgal. Two months from then Ensiferum took the stage at this event named Livewire which is a part of a popular annual festival Mood Indigo hosted by IIT, Bombay. Along came some folk/viking music and many around me did not have as much as a clue of what this genre is. But they sure did dance to the tunes. It was the last song when a twenty-something me jumped the barricade, climbed the stage, headbanged and even exited with them. Good fun.

Two Thousand and Nine –

Opeth played the Saarang fest at IIT Chennai (early-2009), Hammerfall played the same venue in early-2010, Rudra played at ISM Dhanbad in March-2009. I missed all three of these gigs as they happened at godforsaken places. Rudra played at Dhanbad, Jharkhand. Really? But Rudra had played Bombay and Delhi in 2001, something I did not of and The Demonstealer did.

Swedish-band Amon Amarth headlined Deccan Rock Festival ’09 and melo-death came to India from where it should have come from. Also sharing the stage were progressive metal band Textures.

Two Thousand Ten and onwards –

By far 2010 has been an eventful year. Folk metal band Eluveitie travelled from Switzerland to IIT Guwahati’s annual festival in February. Rock in India organizers with a metal history paid Backstreet Boys to perform on the same platform as Iron Maiden and Megadeth. To overcome this serious blow Overture India debuted with an event as big as Lamb of God for the Summer Storm festival, Bangalore ’10. And it’s not been long since Nervecell‘s Preaching Venom India tour. I can wait for the next international act as my culture has taught me to wait. 2010 even saw Indian bands DR, Scribe and Kryptos finally breaking the mould when they went international. DR played a dream gig at Inferno festival Norway along with Scribe. Then DR played Brutal Assault festival Czech Republic. Kryptos left for a short European tour and have their dates booked for gigs next year too. All this happened in this very decade.

In the coming two months we have a lot of super gigs lined-up and I am totally kicked about them. Dates for Cynic, Meshuggah, Enslaved and Katatonia’s gigs are fast approaching. Maybe work commitments would not permit me to attend each one of them but then this is what is the state of Indian metal scene in the initial few years of it getting noticed. Don’t I have a lifetime to attend all the concerts that are definitely going to happen in India? Finally I have something good to say about our nation.

And the article would be incomplete without mentioning Katatonia separately. Totally my kind of music and so damn abundant. Hats off to the people who know of such music’s existence and are getting them down for us. There might be a tepid response for Katatonia but that would not in any way reduce the significance of this milestone event.

I would again say all this is just the beginning. It’s been just three years and bands are eager to make it to a new destination – India and fans here say they were always as loyal as they are now. Cheers!


album review : Axioma Ethica Odini (2010) – Enslaved

album : Axioma Ethica Odini

artist : Enslaved

genre : Progressive Black/Viking Metal

year : 2010

There are very few bands that have evolved so well as has Enslaved. Whatever Axioma Ethica Odini means I am surely enjoying the eleventh release of these Norwegian metallers. Enslaved makes the listener feel priviledged and with the kind of riffing on this album I’d just want to give them their second Norwegian Grammy. The album has various moods on it and the bass and drums help in tightening the screw.

As is true with their discography, Axioma Ethica Odini also has variety on it with simple melodic stuff to rolling blast beats. You are in for good amount of clean vocals and the swap between clean and screech is well handled. Another pleasing black metal release this year after Belus, Reptilian, Demonoir and Abrahadabra, and this genre continues to impress me.

Come December-2010 and Enslaved will play India for the second time. Missing them the last time was not my fault as only after they went did I know that they had come. Funny as it sounds and so the Indian scene has changed considerably over the years in various aspects. Looking forward to the gig, and as far as Ethica Axioma Odini is concerned it is worth all your time.

Rating : 4/5


documentary review : Until The Light Takes Us (2009)

Rejoice black metalheads! Not many are interested in taking up the black metal scene as a subject on which a documentary/movie can be made, but Until The Light Takes Us is another valuable addition to the short list of black metal documentaries. Released in late-2009, the movie is based in Norway. It has musicians who lived through the early-nineties Norwegian period telling us exactly what happened then. I always repent the fact that I was not present at the right place at the right time. The movie has answered most of the prickly questions that I had accumulated in my mind concerning the scene. And the sources of my answers could not get more authentic.

The opening sequence has Gylve Fenriz (Darkthrone) preparing himself for a shot. And the best part of it is I can already feel the right vibes. The movie traces the entire journey from the roots of Norwegian black metal through the controversies that brought Norway to everyone’s attention back in the early nineties, the reason behind arson, and the truth behind the murder of Euronymous (Mayhem).

from the docu : fenriz

Why this documentary is different from the other documentaries out there? – the movement that we know today as the True Norwegian Black Metal includes a couple of events that we have always been reading about. If I have to summarize the events it would include the church burnings and hatred towards the protectors of cross, Euronymous (Mayhem) opening a records store called Helvete, Dead (Mayhem) committing suicide, the killing of a homosexual man by Faust (Emperor), and Varg murdering Euronymous. Until The Light Takes Us makes the protagonists recall the events. The featured artists are Varg Vikernes (Burzum), Fenriz (Darkthrone), Hellhammer (Mayhem), Abbath (Immortal), Demonaz (Immortal), Garm (Ulver), Frost (Satyricon), Bjarne Melgaard (visual artist).

from the docu : varg

For me this movie is special for a simple reason that Burzum has got maximum footage. We are taken inside the maximum security prison where Varg had been kept until he was released this year. I would want to thank the makers for bringing out the real Varg and most of all his sense of humor. A very pleasant personality his wit makes you want more of him. Moments when you get a chilling doze for your senses include the part where Burzum tells you how it is to stay confined for so long and ofcourse the uncanny silence when he confronts stabbing Euronymous in the skull.

the makers : aaron aites and audrey ewell

The documentary has been well directed by Aaron Aites and Audrey Ewell and has a personal touch to it. The production has also been handled by the duo. Norway has been depicted as we know it to be, absolutely enchanting. Background score has to be fine as we are talking black metal here. The song that appears to be the theme track of the movie is The Ballad of the Broken Birdie Records by Múm. I remember looking for the track after the movie. Enough said, too much of praise tends to spoil the watch. Buy the movie, download it or just steal but it needs to be watched. Well if black metal is your thing then I bet you already have watched this one.

Rating : 4/5

Check out this article on the Flaming Skull E-Zine here : The Flaming Skull E-Zine : August 2010 issue

Also read :

category : Recommendation

category : Diverse Articles

category : Polls

category : Album Reviews


Indian Black Metal Scene

Black Metalgenesis

We have been there where we were told that black metal was first done by Black Sabbath. But then we were also told Black Sabbath is the reason behind every other genre that ever happened. I for once do not agree to this, without taking away the credit from Sabbath for their contribution to metal. What is called the first wave of black metal that included Venom, Hellhammer, Bathory, Celtic Frost, and a significant Brazilian band Sarcófago just put forth the ground work but then what followed made it clear that even the aforementioned bands weren’t what was to become of black metal.

a church in Norway

A significant period in the history of a genre that righteously goes by the name black metal includes the early nineties. The place being Norway. Nothing ever remained the same. Now I saw myself getting dragged to the kind of songs being made under this genre mainly because of the complacency it gave me. But the truth remains that after being introduced to it, I went about the internet educating myself with the facts that lie behind the dark genre. After my exposure to the church burnings, and my research that led to my introduction of the real people behind the Norwegian era, the perception just became stronger. Here it was not some non-fictional stuff I had encountered, but something that was done, and went along with black metal. How much of it was done due to real hatred towards the cross or for the horned deity is a mystery but then no one would go take the risk of doing illegal activities at an age that could be too early to screw up things in life.

Black metalThe Indian scene

When I began writing this, there was no research required. Early nineties in India means no metal. To include something here I got reminded of only a few acts like Indus Creed, Parikrama, Dying Embrace, Bramha and maybe a few others that I do not want to even mention as they suck. So when the foundation of a genre was being laid in Norway there was just Parikrama jamming back home. Funny thought but ironically true! I will tell you some other time why exactly Pari-trauma should not be opening for Iron Maiden and now that they have done that twice how I want to sink the band and leave no trace. There was no metal in India for the longest time then talking about a major sub-genre would only add salt to injury.

Fate’s 2001 release

The earliest traces of black metal in India in some way can be related to Fate, Demonic Resurrection, Arcane Ritual – although they could be considered non-existent. But then they were away from the true definition of the genre. Whether it was conscious or not, they did lack the genre-related elements in their music even though they did claim to be black metal bands. Fate released an album in 2001 titled Lead Us To Darkness. With DR changing their style to play what they want to and not what they began playing, Fate and Arcane Ritual vanished without leaving behind just enough for other bands to carry the baton ahead. And then somewhere 1833 AD happened in 2004. And have been the longest running Indian black metal act I respect. I don’t have a choice but that does not take away 1833 AD‘s continuous prominent contribution.

1833 AD logo

There has not been any kind of impact, nor we have had any murders or controversies for the spark of this genre. Nothing significant enough to make heads turn in the direction. Sadly for our nation, even though there are hordes of followers of this genre, there aren’t any acts. There are none that can dominate in a discussion. Dark Crucifix from Kerala released Chapters of Damnation, a three song demo that was noticed. 1833 AD are still active and going strong with an album scheduled this year but then a single band for a vast genre, in a nation that has more humans than there is place is extremely poor.

There is also a band that goes by the name Mogh. I would not be surprised if you have not heard the name, but i would surprise you by stating that they have released four albums till now. And I have seen them cover Mayhem and Nargaroth at some mall in Pune. I was impressed. Now I do not hear of them, though I so want to.

mogh live!

Another notable band that was formed out of Disembodied Corpse was Cosmic Infusion. Cosmic, although not active anymore were as close to the roots as was the need. Covering Mourning Palace and I am the black wizards they managed to capitalize on the lack of good covers. They had prettyimpressive originals and personally i was a fan of their live shows banging my head in the first row. Hope they bounce back and fill the gap. Of the new lot there is Spiked Crib who have been around for quite a few years and are constantly enhancing their presence.

Having mentioned the current state of affairs, India cannot be on the global map for their contribution to black metal unless there are bands that mean business. Maybe there are other black metal acts that haven’t been noticed but then that is where the respective bands are lacking. Hoping for a phase where we have a significant change in the Indian scene concerning this genre that is always considered underground but is a success nevertheless. Mauling down a religious establishment could be a good start, anyone?

Check out this article on the newly launched Flaming Skull E-Zine here : The Flaming Skull E-Zine : May 2010 issue

Also read :

category : Interactions/Interviews

category : Recommendations

category : Album Reviews


Random (Re)Discovery #2 – Legacy Of Evil

If you are in the mood for black metal and do not know what needs to be downloaded or bought now you can get in touch with me. In matters as crucial as black metal I trust only myself. By the time you pass this off as over confidence I’ll go and hear the only black metal band from Turkmenistan. Continue reading for this time’s recommendation where I provide a kickass album from my black metal archives.

Limbonic Art is not your ordinary another black metal band. If you haven’t heard them then you should. Those of you into Limbonic Art know the revolution that is Moon In The Scorpio. While you recall the last time you played the album I’ll recommend you to get their 2007 offering Legacy Of Evil. This album is fast, dark and more evil. Those looking for that Moon In The Scorpio synth work will find less of it here.

Legacy Of Evil tells you not everyone can play black metal the way it should be played and not everyone can be the force that is Limbonic Art.


Tomorrow is my day

I am taking a much needed break. Forecast for this weekend and the whole next week – escape Chennai. Heading to Bombay on the 25th, i.e. tomorrow. From my experience till now the industry I am part of is unrelenting. Got this break after slogging my ass for almost 4 months now.

Unfortunately I could not save up enough to fly back home. So its going to be one hell of a tiring train journey. Travelling long hours by train has its own advantages and disadvantages. Advantage – all through the journey this beverage termed tea is consumed in excess and at the end of the day you don’t pee you tea. Not funny ? That was stated as an advantage because a well made cup of tea turns me on. Disadvantage – you have a lot of free time which gives your mind enough reasons to think and that is exactly what I am trying to avoid, you do not feel like taking a dump for obvious reasons, and my iPod battery-life is only a couple of hours. Anyways, the rate at which Apple is going battery-free iPods don’t seem far.

What awaits me back home – family, friends and booze. Also Burzum’s next release Belus has leaked, so downloading the same is high on my agenda. Have to steal some time so I can visit Pune for a day to meet some friends. Amidst all this and against my wishes is the painful Holi and a day will get wasted as I cannot step out of the house.

Keeping everything aside, I am going to make the most of the forthcoming week as I know how it is going to be once I am back in Chennai. Its just not the place for me.

Chennai‘s had enough from me. For today. 24 hours to go. Bombay, tujha vadil kaun ?


Burzum – spell of frustration

"i am varg, no ?"

"i am varg, no ?"

Just when I thought Burzum could do some peaceful farming in his hometown Telemark, Norway and get back to making music after serving about 18 years imprisonment, I read somewhere that a movie is being made based on him. ahem !

Burzum has influenced most of what I feel about black metal and it was roughly six years back when I played his album det som engang var. He was one of the first I heard in black metal (its a fight between him and Ancient), and I can never get over his music. What ever it is that he is associated with, for me he remains that teenager who gave me some insane metal. He had to be possessed by an evil spirit to make music like that. And I wish The Crying Orc was a never ending track. Ain’t it ?

bored of chaos !

Now that he is finally out, he is going to have a hard time struggling to stay out of limelight. Nowthat he is no longer a teenager. But from the looks of it that day is not too far when Burzum would want to get back to jail (this time with family) and spend some more peaceful time after being exposed to what is happening on the other side of prison !

Talking about the movie that is being made, Jackson Rathbone (from Twilight) is apparently playing Varg which will be based on a book named Lords Of Chaos. The makers should know there are other ways of making money than touching a subject they obviously do not know. To begin with deciding to drop this idea would be great. The book in question has been shunned by Burzum as being full of crap. So if the makers are reading this, beware – Burzum is once again a free man !

pleasure to kill !

Also read

and I will not be Resurrected


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