Founded in 1991 by Norwegian Satanist Count Grishnackh (real name Varg Vikernes), Burzum became one of the leading lights in Scandinavias black metal revival of the early 90s. Largely a solo project, Grishnackh composes, sings and plays almost all of Burzums material himself. The project first surfaced under the name of Uruk Hai in 1987. Significantly, the name was drawn from J.R.R. Tolkiens fantasy classic, The Lord Of The Rings, in which the Uruk Hai were a particularly brutal tribe of orcs (the subhuman villains of the book). Burzum was the orcish language, while Grishnackh was a treacherous orc who plays a small, but pivotal, role in the proceedings. Count Grishnackh used Tolkiens epic struggle between good and evil as a model for his own brand of Satanism, casting himself among the hordes of darkness. Grishnackh went on to collaborate with Euronymous, godfather of the Scandinavian black metal revival, playing with the latters band Mayhem, releasing material on his Deathlike Silence Productions (DSP) label, and playing a leading part in the curious hate cult known as the Black Metal Circle. Meanwhile, Burzum recordings were receiving increasing acclaim on the heavy metal underground, with their tortured mix of overheated guitars, screamed vocals and strange, ambient keyboards. In the spring of 1993, Grishnackh, along with a number of other prominent members of the Black Metal Circle, was arrested for a series of church burnings. Several months later, Grishnackh was arrested for the brutal murder of Euronymous. He was subsequently convicted in 1994, but showed no remorse for his crime, instead relishing the consequent notoriety and publicity. Sentenced to 21 years (the maximum possible under Norwegian law), Grishnackh continues to record increasingly strange and twisted material in jail. Satanism and the works of Tolkien now take a back seat to the right-wing occultism and Viking paganism that are currently his chief obsessions, with many of his lyrics now sung in Old Norse. He managed to record 1997s Daudi Baldrs while in prison, using a keyboard and computer. Hlidskjalf followed in 1999.
Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.