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Ulver - Wars Of The Roses CD (album) cover

WARS OF THE ROSES

Ulver

 

Post Rock/Math rock

3.77 | 138 ratings

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lukretio
5 stars This is marvellous. The best release of Ulver since Perdition City.

'Wars of the Roses' is not an easy album. It is very dark and it flirts with heavy subjects (the meaning of life, death, religion) that may put off some listeners. But if one is willing to invest into the album, 'Wars of the Roses' can be immensely rewarding. And inspiring.

In my mind, the album is split into two parts: a 'musical' part, which includes the first 6 songs, and a 'poetic' part, with the 15 minutes reading of Keith Waldrop's poem 'Stone Angels'. Both parts are meditations around the same theme: what is the meaning of life? Why are we here? How can we make sense of all this? And what lies beyond?

Musically, the first 6 songs on the album show Ulver at their best: a clever and skilful blend of electronic, post-rock and avant-garde music, with a distinctively melancholic tone. The opening track "February MMX" (great up-tempo song) sets the tone for the rest of the album, with the lyrics: "the old man sings / in the face of fear / the circular mantra / why are we here". Remarkably, the following songs reduce the tempo quite considerably. The tone becomes darker, as we are invited to reflect on the meaning of cultural traditions ('Norwegian Gothic' and 'England'), death ('September IV') and religion ('Providence' and 'Island'). Perhaps these are all ways in which we, human beings, try and make sense of the dreadful question 'why are we here'? In 'Stone Angels' these themes emerge once again, through the words of Keith Waldrop's poem, splendidly read by Daniel O'Sullivan over layers of drones and otherworldly sounds. A great, hypnotic and almost cathartic experience. Surprisingly, for a spoken-words track of 15 minutes, I do not seem to grow tired of this, and I can sit and listen to it again and again and always find it rewarding.

This is an amazing album, albeit difficult and admittedly not for everyone's taste. But, for the most adventurous listeners out there, my advice is to try and invest time on this album. You will not regret it, and you will fall in love with 'Wars of the Roses'.

lukretio | 5/5 |

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