A group blog for Introduction to Media Criticism at NYU, Fall 2009.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
A disclaimer before I begin this analysis: I do not agree with the views held by Varg Vikernes (aka Count Grishnackh, aka Burzum), nor do I condone his crimes. While I have a hard time believing in the strict dichotomy of good and evil, his actions and beliefs are as close to a traditional Judeo-Christian definition of evil as one can get. However, I am fascinated by his mythological status in the black metal community, and I happen to enjoy some of the music he created in the early 90s (Filosofem has some dope tunes).
The cover of the Aske EP (Deathlike Silence, 1993) by Burzum denotes wooden beams on top of a stone foundation. It is a black and white photo. There are trees in the background surrounding the scene. In the upper left-hand corner the words BURZUM and ASKE appear in a highly stylized font.
Although it surely helps to know the history of the Norwegian black metal scene at the time, it does not take much to realize that this was once a building. The position of the wood, especially near the top of the structure, is fallen and degraded, showing that this is probably not being built, but rather the remains of some sort of arson. Because this is shot in an artistic fashion, with the structure looming above the camera, the trees framing the shot, we can assume this was not taken for police records, but for some other purpose.
Vikernes was vocal about his anti-Christian beliefs. He was allegedly responsible for several church burnings throughout Norway in the early 90s, and this, the Fantoft stave church, was suspected to be his work. Once this information is on the table, this image could connote that he is indeed responsible for this burning. However, it really doesn’t matter if he was the arsonist or not; the fact that the image was used in this way shows Vikernes reveling in the destruction. That the camera seems to be looking up at the church could signify the fall of something that is seen as all powerful, the destruction of belief.
If you are at all interested in the craziness that is Burzum, Varg has a pretty insane website that has his personal accounts of everything…including the murder of Mayhem guitarist Euronymous.