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Ulver - Wars Of The Roses CD (album) cover




Post Rock/Math rock

3.82 | 145 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Any Colour You Like
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Now, before I launch into this review, I shall announce a careful caveat to whatever I pen next. Ulver's latest release took me by surprise, so much so that I was initially cast into almost giving it a five star rating. However, having lived with it for a few months, my opinion of it has softened. Indeed, it would be a travesty to give this album anything less, for all but one salient reason.

The Wars of The Roses is a fusion album. Not in the jazz fusion sense, but in the way that nobody should be capable of truly capturing it's essence. Sure, it's a mix of electronic, ambient, rock, glitch, neo-classical, and gothic... but nonetheless, all these tags are as good as useless from track to track, so forget I even tried. This means that the music has that essential fluidity and ephemeral nature which is more a kin to an astral journey than a basic stop-start affair. The upbeat yet also dark compositions can take a while to appreciate, Garm can be both uplifting (usually through soaring vocals) and crushing through lyrical density and historical imagery. The clever amalgam of both Norwegian and British histories and culture evokes classical imagery and nostalgic impulses, yet this is one album which manages to keep sticking the knife in. Furthermore, the lengthy ambient movements are as serene and as unforgiving as the lyrical content. Indeed, Wars of the Roses has some of the more polished lyricism and imagery I've had the pleasure to hear in quite some time.

Despite all of the positives, there is one major criticism I have: and it's called 'Stone Angels'. No, I'm not going to do the whole 'oh, I saw a fifteen minute track and expected something better than a dramatic monologue', no, it's more to do with the lucidity and flow of the album. Leading up to the closer, the album creates a certain tension, which is essentially unresolved during the closer. Don't get me wrong, the closer by itself is a polished work, and O'Sullivan's recital of the poem is suiting, however I just don't feel the connection between it and the rest of the album. It appears to sit in an unnatural place, as if it were leading into something, rather than finishing the suite. You could argue that the narrative ends naturally, but that seems to take some of the fun away. After all, there's always another way through the forest than first meets the eye.

While this does dent my love for the album, make no mistakes; Wars of the Roses is a very polished record, that should provide the listener with enough material to keep showing depth upon repeated listens. Isn't it funny how little things can impact upon your perceptions; or perhaps I'm just being harsh and nit picky. Either way, Ulver's latest sure is a cerebral listen.

Any Colour You Like | 4/5 |


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