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




Post Rock/Math rock

4.02 | 157 ratings

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4 stars Ulver are one of the most fascinating bands in Norwegian metal, experimenting with and ultimately mastering various forms of hard rock and electronic ambience that has led to them contributing to notable Scandinavian film soundtracks and collaborating with a multitude of other musicians on side projects.

'Bergtatt,' the band's first full-length release from 1994, is the first in a trilogy exploring the more sinister side of Norwegian folklore: its melancholy 'monk metal' later complimented by 1995's folky 'Kveldssanger' and the lycanthropic extreme black metal finale 'Nattens Madrigal' in 1996. This highly eclectic and unusual blend of musical styles demonstrates the creativity and originality of frontman and band founder Trickster G that is present throughout this debut concept release.

Ulver is:

Kristoffer Garm Rygg (alias Trickster G): vocals, synths, drums Jorn H. Svaeren: guitar Tore Ylwizaker: bass, synths, piano

Bergtatt's moderate thirty-five-minute length maintains a sinister and brooding atmosphere as it progresses through extreme black metal, acoustic interludes and soft harmony, making for a listening experience that is encapsulating and consistent. The seamless transition between harmonic chanting vocals (present throughout the first track) and guttural screams perfectly match the varying distortion effects of the lone guitar and the intensity of the drums.

Capitel IV is the highlight of the album, demonstrating the band's talent at creating a mesmerising acoustic song amidst the volume of tracks three and four, although the closing minutes of the disc surpass everything the band have accomplished since in terms of space-out relaxation meeting blinding metal fury. Not every musical movement on the album is memorable and inspired, but there is never a dull moment as each song closes before outstaying its welcome in the eardums.

Unlike the relentless and almost unbearable ferocity of the later Nattens Madrigal album, the black metal elements of this album are reined in to be more melodic and easier on the listener, aided by the impressive production value of the disc as a whole. Fans of doom metal bands such as Opeth and Anathema should enjoy this Ulver release, as should those with a more extreme taste in music. Although the lyrics are sung in an archaic form of Norwegian to suit the themes (the band's later experimental offerings are all recorded in English), the theme and mood of the album still come across from the bleak atmosphere and creepy album artwork.

An album perfectly suited to a dark and rainy night, Bergtatt is an impressive debut from a highly complex band, and although not entirely original in the wake of the doom metal movement, the interesting incorporation of rarely heard instruments elevates this unappreciated classic above the stream of tired, over-aggressive metal that still manages to permeate the music charts. The musical equivalent of that story in Roald Dahl's 'The Witches' where a girl is trapped in a painting and eventually disappears as her parents fail to notice her: memorable and chilling.

Frankingsteins | 4/5 |


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