A one-man BLACK METAL band by Norwegian Varg Vikernes. Vikernes is currently serving a 21 year sentence for the murder of MAYHEM guitarist Oystein Aarseth, the burning of three churches, and the resulting death of a fireman. Vikernes was also arrested for possessing an illegal amount of dynamite, which was to have been used in a barely hatched plot to blow up the Norwegian Crown Jewels. That he has been able to record and produce four elaborately executed albums and have these albums released worldwide through a British record label while serving time for so many heinous acts certainly says volumes about the liberalism of the Norwegian prison system.

The records Vikernes recorded before his incarceration, BURZUM, ASKE, and DET SOM EN GANG WAR, have been extremely influential in the black metal underground, but could be mistaken for 80's metal were it not for the anguished, giggle-inducing howl that Vikernes tries to pass off as a singing voice. Vikernes may, in fact, be the worst singer on the planet, and anyone who can stay in the room with any of these records for more than five minutes needs to shut the hell up about Yoko Ono.

Happily, most of Burzum's work from prison has been instrumental, even if much of it has been ponderous and dull. Varg's better recordings include DAUDI BALDRS, where understated electronics suggest a classical string group with piano, playing quietly unfolding, minimalist compositions. HLIDSKJALF, Burzum's last record, takes a more modern-sounding approach to electronic music.

When the 1998 publication of Michael Moynihan and Didrik Soderlind's book, LORDS OF CHAOS, THE BLOODY RISE OF THE SATANIC METAL UNDERGROUND (Feral House,) introduced Norwegian black metal to its largest audience, Vikernes became a cult figure among underground metal fans worldwide. Pop culture has ever been drawn to murderous sensationalists like Vikernes, who has now taken his place among the Charles Mansons, Jack Henry Abbots and Mumia Abu Jamals of the world as YET ANOTHER jailhouse celebrity. Vikernes' celebrity, however, is proving short-lived, sabotaged by Varg's own unsavory neo-nazism. Since changing his name to Vara Quisling, after the politician who sold Norway out to the Nazis during World War II, and trading his heavy metal locks for an ill-advised, Hitleresque comb-over, Varg has found his cultural cache slipping and slipping. Writings such as VARGSMAL, in which Vikernes/Quisling opines on such touchy subjects as the racial inferiority of white people with brown eyes (?!?) have lessened his popularity in all but the most staunchly racist circles. Record buyers can tolerate a little murder and arson, but nobody likes a nazi, after all.