Controversy reigns over Belus: the first, brand new recorded work released under the dreaded Burzum masthead by convicted killer Varg "Count Grishnackh" Vikernes, following the conclusion of his 16-year incarceration for the murder of his black metal inner circle rival, Oystein "Euronymous" Aarseth, on August 10, 1993. And, as if his contemptible involvement in perhaps the darkest chapter in heavy metal history wasn't difficult enough for most conflicted metalheads to look past, it turns out that Belus is a concept album devoted to the ancient, indo-aryan solar deity (also known as Bel, Ba'al, etc.) and was originally to be titled Den Hvite Guden ("The White God"). Needless to say, coming from a self-professed racist, this adds even more unwanted baggage for someone that many observers expected would want to turn over a new leaf, or at the very least, wish to distance himself from his past fallacies, not perpetuate lingering opinions compromising his chances of being taken seriously as an artist. But this is very much the case, so one must simply attempt to separate content from context where Burzum is concerned. That is what follows here, and, if considered purely on artistic merit, Belus is a rather impressive work; one that, unlike the predominantly electronic, darkly ambient efforts Vikernes recorded during his imprisonment (if you can call that "imprisonment"!), it is steeped in classic Norwegian black metal hallmarks. That's right: we're talking throat-lacerating screeches, buzzsaw riffs, grim melodies, and plenty of blastbeats -- all of them defiled by intentionally lo-fi production standards that still barely try to mask the sophisticated compositional foundations supporting excellent songs like "Belus Doed," "Sverddans," and "Belus' Tilbakekomst (Konklusjon)." This musical vision is never more successful than on the album's epic centerpiece, "Glemselens Elv," which achieves new heights of terrifying majesty in light of Vikernes' personal infamy. In conclusion, Belus is an album that one desperately wants to hate; indeed, almost needs to hate for one's own peace of mind, but whose musical qualities are impossible to ignore. Come to think of it, isn't this somewhat like how they've always warned you that the devil himself would conceal his identity? ~ Eduardo Rivadavia
Uncut (magazine) (p.85) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "[T]here's no mistaking the thundering drums and hoarse, howled vocals as 'Sverddans' powers inexorably on."