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Ulver - Bergtatt - Et Eeventyr i 5 Capitler CD (album) cover

BERGTATT - ET EEVENTYR I 5 CAPITLER

Ulver

 

Post Rock/Math rock

3.90 | 90 ratings

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VanVanVan
Prog Reviewer
5 stars It's amazing to me that until a short while ago I had only heard Ulver mentioned and had never actually listened to their music. From what I understood, they had begun as a black metal band and generally transitioned into more of a prog band. Based on my experiences with a lot of bands whose careers traced similar arcs, I wasn't expecting too much from this first release; I expected it to be pretty straightforward metal without a whole lot of prog.

Well, as I often am, I was completely wrong. Though there is quite a bit of black metal influence, there's also an incredible amount of subtlety in Ulver's music here. The production isn't spectacular, but that only adds to the subtlety; often very intense listening is required to catch everything that is happening in the music. That may be irritating to some but personally I find it very intriguing and I'm willing to bet that most prog fans will as well.

"I Troldskog Faren Vild" begins with a drumroll that leads into a metal riff, that, despite being labeled as progressive black metal, isn't that hard to digest. To my further surprise the first time I listened through this album, the first vocals are clean. The extremely fuzzy guitars and almost dreamy vocals give the song an almost psychedelic feel, which was a welcome surprise. Not that I dislike black metal, but from what I'd read about this album I was expecting something much more brutal. This, on the other hand, I actually find quite pretty, with folky guitar solos and extremely pleasant vocal harmonies taking place over the constant, almost droning riffs in the background. Though there is undoubtedly a great deal of black metal influence here, this is very dynamic music, a fact which is highlighted by the sudden acoustic guitar solo that takes place towards the end of the track. It's a gorgeous little break, and when the heaviness picks back up in the last minute for an extremely folky- sounding electric guitar solo you begin to grasp the intense maturity of songwriting demonstrated on this first album from Ulver.

All the metal trappings go right out the window with the beginning of "Soelen Gaaer Bag Aase Need," which starts with a flute section accompanied by classical guitar. This beautiful little introduction lasts for about a minute and a half before pounding blast beats and riffing burst forth out of the relative calm, accompanied by the first growled vocals on the album. Lest you think that Ulver has fallen back into stereotypes, however, they prove they can still create an atmosphere by interspersing these harsh growls with haunting, almost chanted clean vocals. Personally I think this track sounds quite a bit like early Opeth, though the production is undoubtedly a little rougher. This track will probably be a little tougher than the first for non-metal fans to digest, but if you're not terribly averse to growling there's still a ton of beautiful music happening here.

"Graablick Blev Hun Vaer" is another song with an unconventional beginning for a metal track, with chanting vocals layered over what sounds like a fingerpicked guitar part. Like "Soelen Gaaer?" a very heavy metal track emerges from this introduction, with more growling and riffs and drumming that nearly approach speed-metal. Some interesting bass work makes an appearance as well, with the bassist laying down a languid, flowing line behind the insane strumming and drumming that's happening at the front of the track. As quickly as it began, the metal gives way to a fantastic acoustic guitar solo that itself gives way to what sounds like a field recording of someone stomping through the woods. Over this a piano part emerges, lasting for a brief period before fading away just in time for the metal to re-emerge, this time backed by those same chanting vocals from the previous track. The song ends in a bizarre mish-mash of metal and atmosphere that sounds completely alien and yet works absolutely perfectly.

"Een Stemme Locker" starts off again with an acoustic guitar part and very low pitched vocals that are reminiscent to me of Gregorian chant. After awhile these chanted vocals drop out to be replaced with faint whispers, and at about the same time the guitar part gets more complex, with harmonies being added over the repeating pattern. Very faint female vocals are briefly added as well, giving the song an otherworldly, ethereal feel. Overall the song is a very relaxing one, with no metal to speak of, and it works both as a standalone piece and as an interlude of sorts before the final track of the album begins.

"Bergtatt, Ind I Fjeldkamrene" begins immediately with the same kind of droning, fuzzy riffs that dominated the first track. Some extremely brutal growling is introduced over this, and if you listen very carefully you can hear some folky acoustic playing back in the mix as well. After only about a minute this comes to the forefront, and this acoustic guitar part plays unaccompanied for a little while before the metal riffs return, this time aided by clean vocals. At one point, a very faint clean guitar solo begins playing behind the riffs, creating a very delicate effect that really shows off the subtlety of the songwriting here. For most of the rest of the track growled vocals dominate, but the track switches it up briefly at the end to feature another of those gorgeous classical acoustic guitar parts to close out the track.

So if it's not totally apparent by now, this album totally blew me away. Those who really can't stand extreme metal probably won't like it much, but fans of the genre should check this out immediately. Coming in at only about 35 minutes, this is an incredibly tight release without a poor moment on it. Highly recommended for all metal fans, especially Opeth fans searching for something a little grittier. Seamlessly blending folk, psychedelia, and a heavy dose of pounding black metal, this is one of the most impressive and enjoyable metal albums I've heard in a long while.

5/5

VanVanVan | 5/5 |

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