I’ve listened to this album a few times now, and I’m a little lukewarm about it. I’ve been a big fan of Burzum for a long time (with the exception of the prison albums), and of Varg’s musical style in general, but this album is pretty tepid.
It’s a mixed emotion. In one sense, this album is very true and very accurate to the 90’s Norwegian black metal scene that we all knew and loved. In the same sense, its sound is dated and completely lacks innovation. I suppose in that sense it boils down to what it is you’re looking for from this release – are you looking for a new old favorite or are you looking for something with familiar elements that you’ve never heard before? Umskiptar is definitely the former.
In fact, I’ve never been able to listen to this album the whole way through in one sitting. That’s not to say that it’s so terrible that I have to turn it off, but it’s depressing in the way that only black metal can be. As I write this, it’s 85 and sunny outside, but the atmosphere of Umskiptar makes it feel like I might as well be in a torchlit cave in the midst of the impenetrable darkness of a Norwegian winter… possibly fighting off a cave troll.
I don’t hate this album (although I think Varg would consider that a positive review), but I’m not nuts about it either. Overall, it’s “meh”.
If you’re looking for a Norwegian black metal throwback, then this album is totally for you. In that regard, Mr. Vikernes knocks it out of the park. If you’re looking for something new and different, keep looking.