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Ulver - The Assassination Of Julius Caesar CD (album) cover




Post Rock/Math rock

3.67 | 91 ratings

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4 stars "The Assassination of Julius Caesar" is another foray into another genre for Ulver. This time, they experiment with, of all things, pop music. From Black Metal to Drone Music to Post Rock to theatrical soundtracks, minimalism and jazz, Ulver has always sounded like professionals at any type of music they delve into. So, now, what about alternative pop music?

"Nemoralia" is quite straightforward. It does sound like Depeche Mode at its lush-est. It is one of the most radio friendly tracks that Ulver has ever done. Yet there is still no doubt that it is Rygg singing those vocals, with his dark and seductive singing.

"Rolling Stone" continues with the updated alternative sound with a straightforward rhythm, but with some great lyrics and an excitingly interesting chorus with some guests backing him up. The synths and the driving bass drive this forward and are very reminiscent of the better side of Depeche Mode, but it is done in a way that doesn't sound like a cheap copy. Definitely catchy and well developed at over nine minutes. The wolf theme from previous Ulver albums also continues on this track. In the 2nd half of the song, things get a little more experimental as a wall of sound starts to build layer upon layer and things end up getting dissonant and chaotic with instruments fighting to get control of the track, from screaming guitars to screeching sax. They just had to remind you that this is still Ulver.

"So Falls the World" again has a mid tempo and basic rhythm. But it's the words and the vocals that are the focus here, as it was on "War of the Roses". On this track, even though the music is straightforward, the melody itself is the thing that is the most non-traditional. There is a sudden change at around the 4 minute mark when the tempo suddenly quickens and you get some interesting textures while keeping things accessible.

This flows into "Southern Gothic" which is a pretty typical sounding alt-pop track, nothing really stands out on this one, but it is short at least.

"Angelus Novus" slows things down quite a bit, and again uses poetic lyrics like in "So Falls the World". This is a surprisingly beautiful ballad-like song, but with enough of a challenge to the melody to keep things interesting. The same thing happens in the next track "Transverberation", except with a faster beat. The melodies in both are not typical, and that is what keeps things interesting.

"1969" is a synth heavy song, again with that unique melodic feel and poetic lyrics with a mostly basic track underneath. What is amazing is how well it all fits together.

The last track is the almost 8 minute "Coming Home". This one sounds like something that could have felt right at home on a Velvet Underground album, with atmospheric synths and both spoken and sung vocals, sometimes at the same time, puts it somewhere between a Lou Reed and a Leonard Cohen register. This one is also experimental enough to have been on the "Blood Inside" album, which also hinted around at popular music at times. This is my favorite track on the album.

There have been many progressive artists that have been able to effectively balance progressiveness and popular music. Artists include Alan Parsons, Yes, Pink Floyd and others. There have been major failures at this also, including Genesis, ELP and ELO. Ulver can now be counted among the artists that have done this effectively with this album. But, don't forget, this is Ulver, and you never know what you will hear next. The thing that makes Ulver unique in their endeavor is that they didn't really have to dumb down their lyrics and songwriting to do so. There is also that darkness that permeates Ulver's music. But, without a doubt, this is the most accessible album Ulver has ever done. And they do it well. Because of the progressive traits that remain in the melodic lines here, this album easily gets a four star rating. It's not their best, but it is progressive pop at its best. It still proves that Ulver can do virtually anything.

TCat | 4/5 |


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