Hvis Lyset Tar Oss was recorded by Varg Vikerness at some point between January 1992 and March 1993, along with his previous work (Burzum, Aske, and Det Som Engang Var) and the album that would follow, Filosofem. The recordings took place at Grieg Hall in Vikerness’ hometown of Bergen, Norway, and were spread out across many months with long gaps between releases.
It was during this period that the Norwegian black metal scene was gaining notoriety, due to not only the extremity of bands such as Burzum, Mayhem, Emperor etc, but also activities outside of music. Violence was become rife within the scene, and a string of church burnings in Norway led to the scene being scrutinised. This would come to head in August 1993, when a disagreement between Vikerness and his friend, Euronymous, would result in the grisly murder of the Mayhem guitarist.
In May of 1994, a month after the release of Hvis Lyset Tar Oss, Vikerness was given the maximum sentence of 21 years imprisonment for the murder of Euronymous, along with various other charges of arson, theft, and storage of explosives.
The title of Hvis Lyset Tar Oss translates to English as ‘If The Light Takes Us.’ Speaking of the album at the time, Vikerness said the following regarding the concept of the LP:
“What once was, before the light took us and we rode into the castle of the dream. Into emptiness. It’s something like: beware the Christian light, it will take you away into degeneracy and nothingness . What others call light I call darkness. Seek the darkness and hell and you will find nothing but evolution.”
The music features the lo-fi recording style that Vikerness had championed since the debut Burzum album. The guitars are raw, the vocals inaudible, and drums almost indistinguishable from tin can. Yet within this cacophony lies a subtle ambience that shrouds the cold and bitter vibe that spills from the album. This would be fully realised on Filosofem, but Hvis Lyset Tar Oss can be considered proto-atmospheric black metal, with its influence still heard today among bands such as Panopticon, Leviathan, Deafheaven and more.
There were 2000 numbered copies in the initial pressing of Hvis Lyset Tar Oss on white marbled vinyl, which was released by Misanthropy Records. This copy is number 1466, as indicated by the small sticker on the rear of the sleeve. The black and white, stickered gatefold sleeve features a drawing by 19th century artist, Theodor Kittelsen, name Fattigmannen (The Pauper). All of the text throughout the sleeve, including the lyrics, remains in Norwegian, and includes thank you credits to Fenriz of Darkthrone, and Demonaz of Immortal.
Regardless of opinion on Vikerness himself, the impact of Burzum’s early output within the lexicon of extreme music cannot be understated. This will likely be a onetime only chance to own a piece of black metal history.
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