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Ulver - Wars Of The Roses CD (album) cover

WARS OF THE ROSES

Ulver

 

Post Rock/Math rock

3.78 | 137 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

BrufordFreak
4 stars With this, the first follow up to one of my favorite albums of the 21st Century, "Shadows of the Sun," Ulver has put together another album that not only pushes the boundaries of musical structure and presentation, but, I predict, will push many people's comfort buttons. How does one really categorize this music? It is definitely unusual--I'd say unique. RIO? Avant garde? Certainly eclectic. Dark and ominous. Powerful. Unsettling--even disturbing. Yet beautiful! Absolutely, stark and brutally honest in its expression of the human predicament. They're like Kali, Goddess of Destruction--whose work then leads to creation and resurrection in the great circle of cosmic order. The "wars of the Roses" historical reference must serve as a metaphor for the tumultuous, hectic, and often insecure and chaotic times in which we presently live. Has anyone noticed? Ulver is really trying to say something to the human race!

1. "February MMX" is a fairly straightforward driving rock'n'roll song with a rock vocal I'm not used to hearing from Garm. Very alarming and out-of-place in the Ulver catalog--and with the rest of this album.

2. "Norwegian Gothic" (7/10) has quite a bit of avante-garde jazz improvising away behind the pulsing ambient synthesizer and Garm's vocals.

3. "Providence" (8/10) starts as a kind of emotional Baptist church dirge, complete with female gospel singers, before letting loose into a free-form psychedelia jam from the 3:20 to 4:45 marks, whereupon our gospel chanteuse leaves us to go on an eerie walk through the creepiest misty graveyard at midnight on Halloween. Weird song, but really different. Cool!

4. "September IV" (7/10), in its first half, sounds and feels more like a more sedate FOCUS song from the 70s--except for Garm's deep, breathy vocal. Like "Love Remembers," "Sylvia" or something from "Mother Focus" or "Focus Con Proby." On the beautiful, almost syrupy side, before another jam into psychedelia ensues around the 2:40 mark. Cool free-form RIO song! The second half of the song definitely brings this one up another level. These guys obviously have no inhibitions or feel no restrictions to their musical structuring.

5. "England" (9/10) begins by transporting us into a monastery even before the heavy bass notes and ride-cymbol brings us inside the darkness of the massive old stone structures. The dangers outside are rather frightening--making the listener feel as if the heavy pulsing of the music is like the garlic and wolfbane keeping the lurking evil from coming in through the windows. Wow!

6. "Island" (8/10) is a hauntingly beautiful song with a kind of FLOYDian ("Dark Side of the Moon") and XTC feel to it ("Dear God"). Again, it defies structural comparison; they just do whatever and go wherever they want. Unpredictably and yet ably, confidently. Amazing!

7. "Stone Angels" (10/10) appears to be a vehicle for the poetic musings of a spiritually awakened mystic. We are in the church of Kali-Shiva, honored and humbled to be within the beauty and majesty of Creation yet cognizant of the fragility of life, the ever- encroaching presence of Chaos. I am hypnotized, captivated, transfixed. Edgar Alan Poe, Jack Kerouac, Alan Ginsberg, Carl Jung, Charles Mingus, John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, Sun Ra, Don Cherry, Paroah Sanders, Frank Zappa, Larry Coryell, Bill Frizell, Claud Debussey, Robert Fripp, Brian Eno and many others are honored here. Enter if you dare. But be ye warned: Thou shouldst be strong of heart, strong in spirit. NOt for everyone, yet definitely an amazing journey and an excellent addition to any true prog lover's music collection. Stick with it. Get to know it. Let yourself go into the music (headphones) and trust what will happen as exactly that which needs to happen at this moment in your life for your growth and development into the next highest version of your self.

I find it quite remarkable that this album starts off fairly 'mainstream' and moves gradually, insidiously, almost step-by-step (song- by-song), on a dark, disturbing journey into the predicament the human race finds itself in the 21st Century. Gratefully, the album culminates in a kind of monastic, peaceful place in which we are offered the security of a reminder of our inherent spirituality--of the 'illusory' nature of the Earthly events that are playing out around us while on the planet at this time. Another masterful 'concept' album from Ulver pointing to the darkness around us, yet trying to help us to learn to detach from it, to seek the 'monastic security' that resides within our own souls. Heavy. Yet, ultimately, freeing.

BrufordFreak | 4/5 |

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