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5 stars There is a small group of artists without whom I cannot imagine my own existence.

It wasn't actually until Perdition City that I discovered Ulver, and it was, indeed, a life altering experience. I quickly amassed the entire backcatalogue and found a band constantly in redefinition, always expanding and experimenting. Since then, every release has had some profound impact on the way I listen to music.

And here we are at Blood Inside.

Blood Inside offers a diverse musical climate. One can hear some of the orchestral sounds found on the Quick Fix EP and Svidd Neger soundtrack, as well as the electronic atmospheres of Perdition City, the Silence EP's, etc... And yet, this album, as always, is completely different from the rest of Ulver's work.

For Blood Inside, Ulver enlisted the help of Ronan Chris Murphy... fitting, as much of the album has a vaguely Crimson-esque feel to it. In fact, Ulver are as important to the progression of music today as King Crimson were in 1969.

But I digress.

From the onset of the album, the genius of this work is apparent. It may take you a few listens to realise it, but there are truly some incredible things going on here. "Dressed in Black" builds from an uber-minimalistic synth line, adding layer upon layer, until Garm comes in like the voice of impending doom. The song continues to build until the end with chromatic decending piano lines heralding the end of the world. The sedated, angstful verses of "For the Love of God," offset by huge, 70's prog-like choruses. The angry, noisy, and yet hugely melodic "Christmas." "Blinded By Blood," perhaps the most beautiful and haunting Ulver song to date, with its sweeping, ringing synth lines offset by discordant vibraphone, and Arvo Part-like choral moments rising in and out as Garm's gorgeous voice washes over you. Personally, this song leaves me powerless to do anything but gape, slack-jawed, into space. The chaotic dichotomy of electronic noises and string lines opening "It Is Not Sound," then suddenly slamming into the, as I said before, vaguely Crimson-esque groove. The noisy and beautiful "The Truth." "In the Red" recalls Perdition City with its creepy minimalistic structures. The beautifully chaotic "Your Call," with several different offsetting string parts occurring seemingly at random, punctuated by short piano arpeggiations. And at the end, the single violin rising above the dulling noise and finally giving way to a seemingly eternally unanswered telephone. And then the slamming answer of "Operator," an amazing example of how to make a crushingly heavy song with practically no guitar, with a particularly exquisite moment where the music and noise abruptly stop for a brief instant moment as Garm's yell of 'hospital!' cuts through the mania.

Over all, as any good concept album, from start to finish this is an engaging, almost entrancing listen. The unbridled theatrical power of Ulver's music will have this stuck in your CD player, IPod, or what have you, for weeks.

For those of you who are not already seasoned Ulver-holics, this is as good a place as any to start. I highly suggest this to openminded music lovers, particularly fans of King Crimson, Coil, Bjork, and the like. For Ulver fans, buy this. Buy it now. Buy it yesterday.

May their genius and insanity long continue.

Report this review (#56933)
Posted Friday, November 18, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Definitely Dark unexpected music. This album would bring shivers down your spine, make you hide inside yourself, it is EMOTION. Refined cold emotion. The artwork is great. Lyrics are very deep and go well with the flow of the music which is outstanding. But have to turn off the light while listening to this masterpiece of dark music; not just for the ambient, but for the sensations it will send you........i suggest to buy it in wintertime when everything is colder and distant. Forget the warmth of your home...just abandon you to tracks like "dressed in black" or "your call". All I can say is that this is not easy listening. It will keep your attention and never leave you for months....I think this is a masterpiece in its genre....because of the expresivity of this music. Just get caught with it. I bought it after reading the review up here. Very fond of it.


Report this review (#59917)
Posted Friday, December 9, 2005 | Review Permalink
1 stars I knew this was coming. I saw the warning signs on every album starting with Themes From...and it has finally happened. Ulver has lost themselves in their own soundscape.

You can see the warning signs on prior albums; the meandering, pointless nothings of Dead City Centres and We Are The Dead are horrible, and Lykantropen Themes is filled with too much nothing (read: noise). The Teachings in Silence EP overstayed their welcome on each and every song. And now, Ulver has reached that final pinnacle of faux intellectual pretentious noise rock that has been threatening to overwhelm them for years. The result? Crap.

What you will listen to upon buying or downloading this album is the conglomeration of too many styles and ideas fused into one incoherent soundscape. The smooth techno beats of Perdition City are here. The experimental stuff of Themes From is here. The noise of the soundtracks is here. The solos from their very earliest stuff is here. And above all that is noise. Lots of it. It's not even noise in the traditional idea of random weird noises (not the Mars Volta style). No, this noise comes from guitars, electronic beats, violins, trumpets, bells, even Garm's vocals? "What? Trumpets and violins and electronica, noise? How the hell?" Pulled out individually, each aspect is fine. The trumpets, the electronica, the basslines, the guitars, the weird, it's all damn cool and sounds nice. Now chuck those nice things together and you get borderline unlistenable stuff. It's like throwing chocolate, iced tea, spaghetti, asparagus, chicken and Reeses Pieces in a melting pot and eating the output. Individually each component of the result is fine, but melted together it's crap. This album is similar. Too much. Too much. All the pieces seemed in order, too. Returning to instruments, more experimental, maintaining symphonic while keeping an older Ulver feel, how could Garm go wrong? I mean, it's Garm! Well, it went wrong.

The album opens with Dressed in Black, which plods along at a dreadfully slow tempo gradually adding effects into the mix. There's pianos in abundance, but these aren't the smooth pianos of Perdition City. No, these play frantic melodies over a pulsating, marching beat. There's almost no music or melody to be found here, simply a lot of noise layered over a slow tempo. What we end up with is a boring piece the almost is interesting, but in the end is too jumbled. It sounds like wannabe chaos. Good chaos is King Crimson's song Happy Family. I swear I heard about seven solos at the same time in that song, and all of them worked and it sounded great. Not here. We get some ok segments, usually involving Garm's great voice, but too few.

For The Love of God ups the tempo a bit, from a brisk crawl to the walk of a person who overdosed on NyQuil in the morning. Big change, I know. More messy combinations of things that simply do not work. We even get a guitar solo here, and it's a good guitar solo. Nothing extravagant but nice. Unfortunately, it still doesn't redeem the song because it hardly even fits with the song. Messy. Not lazy, I'm sure this song took a massive effort, didn't work.

Christmas is ok. It really is. It starts with some cool bell effects then launches into a pretty decent part with a laid back beat and some good vocals from Garm. The noise is still here, and it still doesn't fit, and it still is annoying. I think there was one part where a bunch of trombones played and it worked, for a second, just to be shattered. Then it goes noisy, until the end where we get some Christmas-y sounding bells and whatnot over Garm howling quietly, and it sounds kinda nifty. But even this slightly good song doesn't redeem the past two ear-grates.

Next is Blinded by Blood. I really liked this piece when I first heard the album. Garm's vocals sound good, the sound effects make sense and sound good, what's not to like? Well, this time the samples work, but it drags. And drags. It's moderately interesting the whole time, and very pleasant in small doses, but they stretched this one out too long. Oh, by the way, at one point the background gospel male singer (a sample, I know, but...) and the rest of the song aren't even in the same key. What?

It Is Not Sound...yea, it really is. It is sound, and that's all. Sound. Noise. Ok, not the most clever diss I've come up with, but you get the point. I don't like this song much either. Garm's "a loooong time agooooo, yea!" is really [%*!#]ing annoying, but he does some other cool things that make it better. It settles into a groove reminiscent of the beginning of Sigh's Slaughterhouse Suite. Actually, it sounds blatantly ripped, just layered and butchered immensely. There's an ok keyboard solo at the end. Ok. So we have more stupid layering here, more pointless sound effects for the sake of seeming complex, an ok solo, an ok groove, and annoying vocals.

The Truth. The truth is this is my favorite song on the album if I had to pick one. The noise works for this one, Garm sounds great. The more upbeat sections aren't too great, but the softer more laid-back sections with minimal noise going on is good. I think I hear a sample from some Pokemon town music in there, but who knows? The drums are ocol, although obviously a drum machine. At 2:19, after a frantic(lly annoying) section with tons of noise, it chills out into a softer section, the Garm layers his voice a bunch, then there's an upbeat part at around 2:55 that sounds solely because Garm sounds great and there's this really cool chipmunk-thingy sample in the background for a bit and the layered noise here works. For once there isn't a million instruments, just a lot of voices, which works pretty well. It proves once again Garm is a master of vocals, even if he's not the best vocalist ever. Good song.

In The Red. The layering almost works here, especially towards the end, guessed it, once again, too much. This has a stupid jazz facade all over it where in actuality it has nothing to do with jazz. And don't forget those stupid whispers of "" or "AMBROSIAAA...ambrosia...." getting softer in the background. God, that's annoying. The end has some cool jazzy sounds sampled in which almost sounds cool, but not quite. If they cut down on it a bit it would've worked, but they insisted on making it a full-fledged thing.

Your Call has some pretty bad layering, but like Blinded by Blood, it's mostly ambient and chill, and is pleasant in small doses. There's way too many samples on this one as well...WAY too many, but it pulls through ok. Cut back on the annoying violins on this one and add a darker atmosphere and you got an ok song.

Operator is fairly frantic and has more crazy layering. Do I really need to say it? It doesn't work yet again. It comes at as nonsensical, incoherent, name any pejorative word that's a synonym with incoherent and you can describe this song.

So like I said, lots of good ideas, put together in a melting pot to make crap. If Ulver cut back on what they were trying to do, it mighta worked. Maybe. We'll never find out. Hopefully Ulver realizes they tried too hard with this one and goes back to soundtracks or smooth beats or even, I pray to you god, metal.

Report this review (#74359)
Posted Friday, April 7, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars The ultimate culmination of all that is Ulver. Take every musical style and/or atmosphere Ulver has ever dabbled in, and the result is Blood Inside. Perhaps the greatest album Ulver has ever released, every song is a journey. Whether it's the touching lyrics and ambient, minimalism of "Blinded By Blood", the classically influenced, trip-hop groove backing the epic vocals of "Christimas", or the intensity and frenetic nature of "Operator", you are bound to find a song you not only enjoy, but LOVE. The journey you embark on when listening to this album will be a journey of memories as you hear little reminders of every musical quest Ulver has taken, all the while bringing you into a new era of Ulver, perhaps the most cohesive era of Ulver, as the band is no longer experimenting in various pre-existing genres of music with each new album, but has now simply created their own genre entirely with Blood Inside.
Report this review (#75688)
Posted Friday, April 21, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Though by far not everything's ULVER had produced in their long developmental career is appealing to me I've to say that I consider them the most interesting, always progressing and as well progressive (in the literal sense) band of the Norwegian black metal scene. Here we have their latest product "Blood Inside" which is described by some people just as a mess, a chaos or plain noise whereas others call it a real gritty innovative modern piece of art. Maybe both aspects are true in some way but nevertheless this album appeals more to me than their previous works which were too much dominated by ambient electronic music for my taste. And at least to my ears it does not sound as noisy as some other outputs in the experimental metal genre by artists like FANTOMAS or DEVIN TOWNSEND for example. In ULVER's long catalogue there were only few complete failures if any at all (though "Nattens" was one IMHO) and which album has to be called their best one is just a matter of taste, whether one prefers electronic, folk or heavy metal music. I'm preferring the latter two genres I've to say though there isn't any obvious folk influence present on "Blood Inside" nor can it be called really metal despite its heaviness since there aren't almost any guitars. Anyway this album does it somehow for me and it's certainly a quite unique and innovative work within the genre of modern progressive music. I guess it might not appeal to all folks,especially the ones being mainly stuck in the conventional prog but it should appeal to any open-minded prog fan.
Report this review (#86253)
Posted Tuesday, August 8, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars So nothing today is progressive you say?

Perhaps the most overlooked band in the music scene today is the genius that is ULVER, and more specifically, the mind of Garm/Trickster G.

Blood Inside is the culmination of years of sound development to create something that is truly refreshing and entertaining. Simply put, Blood Inside will blow you away with its sonic ecstacy and total lack of concern for normal sounds. It will challenge you, much in the same way that Pawn Hearts did(albeit, Garm's voice is completely different from Hammill's).

I believe that the beauty of this album is that you don't expect any of these parts to fit together, but nevertheless they work. Upon remembering what you just heard, you think, "that really doesn't go there, but for some reason, I like it". There is plenty here for fans of 70's symphonic prog to enjoy. Blood Inside is an experience that you should set aside time for, as its a one of a kind listen. Some important things to note though: there are very few guitars here, and a variety of sounds are used through electronic programming and etc.

The layering of sounds here is amazing, and you will be finding new things on each listen. Recommended for those looking for something refreshing and different from "typical prog". An invaluable listening experience.

Report this review (#88564)
Posted Thursday, August 31, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars I bought this album on accident. But it turned out to be a really good by. This was my first Ulver album and first Post-Rock album. I wasnt dissapointed. The tracks "Christmas" and "Blinded by Blood" are to me the darkest tracks on this album. They set the mood for a rainy night alone...depressing sounding huh? But in all actuallity its an excellent album. As far as Post-Rock goes this album by far is one of the best for me. Its subtle soundscape puts forth images almost those of Psychadelic Rock. The only downfall i have of this album is that the whispers as someone commented on before. It seemed to ruin the mood of the adult themes and darkness. But it did not ruin the album.
Report this review (#127738)
Posted Friday, July 6, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars Ulver have proved themselves to be geniuses in the experimental vein of progressive music. Their audience is quite minute, and unfortunately so. I'm convinced that loads of fans of this style of music are completely oblivious to their existence, and that is the shame. It's not the type of music to gain any sort of advertisement, eschewing all notions of commercial success and conforming to modern rock standards. I tip my hat to the band for such a noble act, but, unfortunately, in doing so, they have cut their audience down so drastically (though, of course, if they hadn't done this, then their music would also have drastically changed).

Blood Inside is Ulver's '05 release, and has taken advantage of (but not abused) all the technology available nowadays to make their trance-inducing experimental music. There is a minuscule amount of guitars, and a large amount of electronics and vocals, with a touch of symphonic keyboards (Wakeman style, sometimes). There's even some orchestra (synthetic or not) throughout the album. It all shapes up to be one ecstatic trip, an unforgettable and yet hazy experience. With every listen, new layers to a song previously unnoticed surface. The eerie, dark atmosphere is endlessly gripping, and all the methods of painting this picture are nearly-exclusively original Ulver ideas. Trickster's voice, jumping from the whole bass tones, to the higher notes would seem to completely clash with the music when heard separately, but together it's obvious that these sounds were meant to exist cohesively.

There is very little here that is reminiscent of much other music on the Archives, particularly the popular prog (an oxymoron, no doubt), and this vaporous electronic post-rock plays a stark opposite to prog metal, the mechanical, highly-strung, tightly composed, heavy-on-the-musicianship type of music. This style of music offers blissful dreams and ominous visions, but rarely any staggering structures or mind-boggling solos. Ambient would not justly define their sound - for there are many exciting moments with much percussion, whereas most ambient is simply smoggy mush (Fripp & Eno, for instance). However, this album (and most of Ulver's discography, mind you) has lots of "mush" to keep you satisfied. Adding to the mush factor is the deficiency of many melodies or riffs, and the presence of a huge array of instruments and samples creating a "wall of sound".

Trickster's voice, along with a thousand and one styles of synthesizers and whatnot, hypnotic drums, and an almost-minimalist orchestral touch, are the driving forces behind the psychedelic excursion. Whether your searching for an ghostly trip or just some fresh variety from mainstream prog, Ulver's music is a must-hear, and the Blood Inside is one of their finer outputs. I would suggest Perdition City above this, however.

Report this review (#131366)
Posted Thursday, August 2, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars This is my first Ulver album and I have to say that if morbidly depressing is what they were going for with this album then they have certainly nailed it. What is it with Scandinavians and morose music anyway? Hell, my ancestors were Scandinavian – does this mean they were a dour lot too? Actually I remember great-grandma Anderson and she was a pretty stern old lady, so maybe it’s genetic after all.

Anyway, maybe it’s just because the sun is shining today, or maybe that I’ve been listening to mostly upbeat musical lately, but this stuff really is too morbid for casual listening, and I don’t much feel like putting enough energy into internalizing it to wallow in its doldrums (sorry, but I'm running out of synonyms for 'depressing').

And that aside, the band seems to be spending an awful lot of time layering both authentic and programmed sounds here, and in many cases for no really apparent reason. This album has the sound of a band that has possibly passed their creative peak and are resorting to buffaloing the listener with quantity over quality (it's a word, look it up). Just my opinion, but the gratuitous digital whining and painful piano-banging get to be a bit much after a while. This is a post-rock band, not Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, right? I like those guys by the way, but you have to be mentally prepared for that sort of thing.

On the up side are the unmistakably proggy “It is Not Sound” and the beautifully tense “Your Call”. On the down side are the first three turgid tracks and the rather bland “the Truth”. Oh yeah – and the closing “Operator” is an intense cacophony of sound even though it seems a bit out-of-place compared to the rest of this album.

I’ll have to check out a few earlier albums by these guys to confirm my hunch, but if I’m correct I suspect those will be a bit lighter on the wanton glut of sound and somewhat heavier on thoughtful compositions that demonstrate the musician’s technical prowess more than their studio savvy. We’ll see. Three stars I suppose (barely), but not really my kind of music. I already gave this one away to one of my kids.


Report this review (#159784)
Posted Friday, January 25, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars Rating: B-

Ulver is one of those bands that leave little room for expectations, since any expectations taken into their music will turn out wrong. You can hear all but one of Ulver's full length CDs and you still won't be able to expect what's in the one you haven't heard. And that's much of their appeal. The rest of their appeal comes from the fantastic music, and while I've found some of their later period work a bit lacking, Blood Inside reverses that disappointing tide, standing not only as one of Ulver's better "electronic" (for lack of a better word) CDs, but simply as one of their better CDs, period. Unlike Themes from William Blake's Heaven and Hell, this is not gritty and industrial (or clunky and overlong, as that CD was). Unlike Perdition City, this isn't smooth and jazzy (or dripping with cringe-worthy pretension, as Perdition City was). Unlike its follow-up, Shadows of the Sun, Blood Inside isn't minimalist and ambient.

Instead, it's their most streamlined, well-thought out CD since Nattens Madrigal (not that it sounds remotely like the brutal, uncompromising black metal of that release). Like so much of their later work, it does put a lot of focus on atmosphere, but here it's backed up by excellent songwriting and dense-yet-comprehensible layerng. Starting with "Dressed in Black" and not ending until the last seconds of "Operator", Blood Inside keeps the listener engaged with well placed effects and samples that augment the music, highlighting its best aspects, and creating an excellent (if depressing) atmosphere.

Attempting to describe all the styles included on this CD seems futile, given just how many it encompasses, but there is electronic music, hints of metal, classical (in the samples), some ambience, and some noise rock (and surely more in addition to this). Blood Inside sees Ulver adept at finding grooves and exploring them, such as on "For the Love of God" and "It Is Not Sound." Other than that, I really can't do much to explain the sound, other than that it is distinctly maximalist: there is always a lot happening, even in the slower moments.

Ulver have never been afraid to push boundaries, and their discography is the perfect reflection of that. On their early CDs, they managed to go from a black metal CD with folk elements to a black folk CD (with no metal) to a black metal CD (with no folk). Each of these experiments worked, establishing Ulver as one of the most invigorating bands of the 1990s. Garm and co. were not satisfied with just metal/folk, though, and so they moved to electronic/industrial with Themes from William Blake's Heaven and Hell. And their experiment failed, as happens occasionally when you experiment as persistently as Ulver does. Perdition City was an improvement, but it still fell on its face at times. With Blood Inside, however, that is rectified. As such, it is the best late period Ulver to date, and a worthwhile purchase for those looking for good, experimental, boundary-pushing music.

Report this review (#163927)
Posted Friday, March 14, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Ulver - Blood Inside

Ulver's "Blood Inside" is a very special beast featuring, despite what the track listing might say, many layers of sound, and beautiful sound at that (for those unaware, track 5 is titled "It Is Not Sound"). It is a unique album among not only the Ulver discography, but also the whole of music itself (at least that I have heard), and it is a wholly admirable beast that deserves your ears. So lend them.

Ulver has always been a band that, even in their black metal days, was impossible to predict, due to their sporadic frequency of change that spreads from album to album, and persists to this day. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that "Blood Inside" is no exception. The album features 9 songs, all built off of the use of many electronic sounds and samples, but this is definitely like no electronic music you've ever heard before.

The songs, each and every one of them, are dense in approach, and all of them feature countless layers upon layers upon layers of sounds and samples and voices and echoes and bleeps and all other variety of sounds. This may have turned off some of you potential listeners, as you might be saying to yourself: ah, it must be quite the clutter then, eh? But no. The production on "Blood Inside" in very good, and also quite different. It took me more time to get used to than the content of the album itself did.

Blood Inside is a beautiful foray into sound experimentation, and is also my favorite Ulver album of the later period (which began with The Blake Album [their fourth], which ended their black metal days, for those unaware).

Now, the music:

The album kicks off with the slow-paced "Dressed in Black" which is driven by an organ and by breathy, subdued vocals that conjure images of memories before your eyes. Memories, and the cold. After all, the word "Ulver" is Norwegian for "wolves", and that's what this band is. A pack of musically daring wolves.

The album itself shape-shifts several times before it finally draws to a close, and many highlights are present throughout--with at least one major one being on almost every track. The chorus in "For the Love of God" is mesmerizing, the innumerable bells in "Christmas" are about as winter-inducing as music can get, the mysterious vocals in "Blinded by Blood" are very ominous, almost evil at times, while the Bach homage present in the ending of "It Is Not Sound" is just plain awesome.

The album continues in this vein, with highlights and "wow!" moments present around every corner. There is a jazzy spot in "In the Red" that gives way to the palpable tension of "Your Call", which is built around the loop of a telephone ringing, and then the finale, "Operator", blasts into existence, ending the album on a wickedly unexpected and abrupt note. You'll want to start it over again and again.

The album is near perfect in many ways, but it is certainly not for everyone. I'd suggest starting with "Perdition City" or their newest, "Shadows on the Sun", before working your way into this one. This is one thick, obese record chock-full of more sounds, noise, and presence than you could even began to label and name.

It is a special thing, hindered only slightly by its sometimes uneven pace and its one weaker track, "The Truth", which is marred by an annoying vocal spot and some shoddy writing. It feels like filler, honestly, but then again, it seems necessary as well at times. It's all a matter of taste, but at any rate, it is not quite as good as any of the other songs on the album.

I do feel that this album is based off of some sort of crazy, veiled concept involving blood, hospitals, life, death, religion, and yes, one pivotal phone call. What all of these things add up to, I couldn't tell you, and it seems that Ulver predicted this in the song "It Is Not Sound" with the ironic lines: For the record / No one will understand / What it's all about. They were right, methinks.

So, in conclusion, "Blood Inside" is one wretched, deformed bastard child of progressive and electronic music. Even its colors suggest that it is the albino child of music itself (reds and whites are all over the album art), and that it is. Yet it is smugly and strangely aware of itself, using its mask to paint vivid, scarred soundscapes and persistently perfect music. Worth a listen to anyone who hasn't heard it yet and is looking for some challenging, yet rewarding music of a unique caliber that has not yet been recreated in any form I have yet to hear. Highly recommended, earning something near a 9 on my scale, and 4 stars on this one. Though in truth, it deserves another half-star, so pretend it's there.

Report this review (#171425)
Posted Sunday, May 18, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars The sum of all the parts is...unexpectedly delightful. Merely skimming through the songs reveals a curious mosaic of strange textures, varying styles, and surreal, harmonic melodies. Disproportionately, the mood of the album swings from depressing to darkly morose. When it comes to crafting a certain atmosphere, Ulver are masters. Everything on this album has an edge to it; even the softer songs are carefully formulated to generate a disconcerting air.

Never before have I heard a band so effortlessly blend styles into such a seamless piece. From the jazz-horn stabs of In the Red to Bach's Toccata and Fugue, which is integrated to great effect in It Is Not Sound. More astonishing are the vocals, which, seem rather to be just another instrument than just a lyrical engine (like in William Blake's Themes...). Garm is a genius, his vocals are both beautiful and unsettling, adding to the dark moods and themes of the album.

I give this album 4.5 stars, although it is obviously not for everyone. For someone looking for something dark and modern, as well as EXTREMELY creative, I would point them towards Blood Inside.

Report this review (#172047)
Posted Friday, May 23, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars You have to appreciate Ulver's creativity and artistic ambitions. The band plays whatever they want and they leave no room for expectation. However, Ulver has been sticking to an industrial/electronic sound for some time now, so I suppose one would have been safe in expecting an electronically driven album with Blood Inside. As that is a rather vague expectation, beyond the surface of the industrial/electronic foundation, this album is a completely unique and inexplicable blend of styles and sounds. Furthermore, the listener will be bombarded with music of the highest density. The listener will likely be discovering new things about the album even years after they've had it. Despite possessing all of those qualities, Ulver simply can't manage to write a memorable tune. Layers of sounds and effects should be added to embellish a composition, they shouldn't take over the composition. That is often the case here; you have solid ideas throughout, but they often get buried in an avalanche of noise. This makes the album difficult to enjoy. It also doesn't help that the general mood of the album is downcast. Surely a challenge is good for the listeners, but when you listen to Blood Inside you're often going to get confused about whether the challenge is in understanding the album or getting through it without cracking your own skull on the nearest hard [but blunt] object. And of course, after working yourself to exhaustion from restraining yourself through the first 8 tracks, the last one proves to be the most cacophonic thing you've ever heard (though that may be because you won't be able to think about anything, let alone another unbearable sound while that is going on).

The band sometimes gives the listener something memorable, however. The band does a great job building tension before that final track with "Your Call," "It Is Not Sound" puts a solid melody in the front and then erupts into a wild whirlwind of whatever it is that they are playing and we even see the band lock into a fun groove on "Christmas." Really, Blood Inside is an album that can be enjoyed, but they really make it difficult for you do so, much like the ping pong table my family got for Christmas. That took far too much work to assemble. I actually didn't pick that example because of the song on this album, by the way.

Ulver is truly a singular band, but Trent Reznor does almost as many awesome sounds and effects in his work and it is often much more memorable and enjoyable, even though there is generally a negative mood as well. I'll take a slightly less innovative record if it has more to connect to musically.

Report this review (#172529)
Posted Thursday, May 29, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Sink into the Murky Water at your Risk, and Pleasure

Blood Inside is simply the best post-rock album I have heard. Admittedly, this is not a genre I have explored thoroughly, but I have sampled enough to know the range of what is out there. This album is amazing, combining a vast range of sonic elements into a dark work that sounds like the soundtrack to a neo-gothic nightmare. Most of these sounds fall within the industrial / electronic realm, but there are many organic instruments also, all carried by layers of Garm's awesome vocals.

There is A LOT going on in this music, as others have criticized. But this album should be seen like a sonic movie - you go into a darkened room and let it consume your entire attention. Like many other prog masterpieces (Genesis' Lamb Lies Down on Broadway for example), the music cannot be listened to casually. The experience is not unlike the sonic equivalent of watching Pan's Labyrinth. Extremely rich, flawlessly constructed, continuously intense, and ultimately very brutal despite moments of beauty. It's not for everyone by any means.

Again, the range of sound here is staggering. Choir vocals, solo gospel voice, Garm's warm baritone / bass. Both guitar and key solos that begin classically and morph into a twisted fury. Blaring brass instruments, brief swing breaks, slow ambient sections followed by frenetic industrial intensity. And though this music is undoubtedly busy, this is not the avant chaos of Unexpect or Bungle. Everything has its place, and the composition is clearly careful and deliberate.

In the end, this is a descent through the surface into a murky world of dark color. It's intense, transformative, simply great music. Undoubtedly progressive, I recommend it without question. But get ready for a dark ride.

Report this review (#208869)
Posted Thursday, March 26, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Blood Inside presents a murky electronic nightmare, a dark and troubling territory that provides a sinister counterpart to Sigur Ros' light and airy brand of electronic post-rock. Slipping in classical themes in the synthesiser lines here and there, the band create soundscapes which somehow manage to be even more dense and multilayered than those of Perdition City - and are more complex as well. Veering away from the minimalism characteristic of much post-rock, the band instead go for an everything and the kitchen sink approach to stuffing as many different influences into their sound as possible. Garm's vocals make a return after the all- instrumental soundtrack efforts and complete the picture. Blood Inside might be Ulver's best album of their non-metal period yet.
Report this review (#662456)
Posted Saturday, March 17, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars This has to be one of the most oddball records ever conceived by any artist let alone released and distributed. I only know of Ulver's history without delving too much into it, but this version of the band through BLOOD INSIDE sounds rich in electronic experimentalism.

It's like singer Garm wanted to make the music of the future. Most of the instrumental credits go to programming even if more ''sane'' instrumentation is used throughout the album. Up until now, I only knew of Israeli group Ahvak trying their hand at this ''programming'' instrumentation, but Ulver makes this ''instrument'' quite blatant in their sound.

Almost too blatant. The over-wrapping and intertwining of all these buzzing, humming and underlying metal sounds (produced by guitars proper) give me a migraine. I can enjoy what Garm is doing only in theory; in practice, while this isn't a mess, I'm having a good problem trying to pluck out the compositions here.

This album is what I would call an example of an ''art first'' album, where the primary goal of an output like this is to make an artsy statement. I could follow the artsiness more if there was some memorable riff or hook that could grip into the inner psyche of what BLOOD INSIDE is trying to do. Only ''Christmas'' and ''Dressed in Black'' can pull that feat off in a ''somewhat'' fashion. Else, I feel like I'm trying to listen to my pulse when I listen to BLOOD INSIDE.

Report this review (#860491)
Posted Friday, November 16, 2012 | Review Permalink
Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team
5 stars In this album, Ulver explores sounds, moods, soundscapes, electric and acoustic sounds, original and non-original loops and samples, and traditional composition. Sometimes they do it all at the same time. This creates an amazing sound that is very original. This is prog rock at it's best especially among the sub-genres of Post Rock and even RIO. There is a heavy use of keyboards, both electronic and acoustic and a lot of interplay of dissonance and melodious hooks throughout. If you were to compare this to anything, it would be like a mellow version of The Mars Volta where you can hear a lot going on, but the various sounds, melodies and etc are easier to pick out. There is a similarity to Kayo Dot also especially in the timbre of the vocal delivery and the difficult-to- understand lyrics. I find the instrumentals are easier to follow than they are for Kayo Dot however. Vocals are very mysterious, brooding and dark, but at times they even approach pop sounding vocals, but in a very warped way in that no melodies are easily picked out of the individual tracks.

There is a theme going on in this wonderful cacophony of sound. According to the Garm, the key words that describe the music that is going on here are heart, blood, red, rose, beauty, violence, body, life, death, ambulance, hospital and so forth. It is psychedelic, progressive, sad and sanctified. It is beautiful, strange, experimental. The subject matter deals with birth, death and the suffering in between. There is such an amazing balance of old and new with this album, in the instruments, in the vocals and samples. Sometimes you hear singing that sounds like something from antiquity, other times it sounds very modern, almost like a warped Alan Parsons. You get tastes of electronica at times and at others you get classical elements, even a section from Bach at the end of the amazing song "It Is Not Sound". As far as the vocals; it's almost like the vocals are trying to be optimistic but the lyrics and the melodies keep preventing that from happening. That's the best way I can explain it. You have to listen close, this is not music you can appreciate by just having it play in the background, you have to dig into it.

There is no doubt that this is not for everyone. But that shouldn't keep the serious prog listener from trying it out and really giving it a chance. Listen to it closely though before passing judgment. Don't make the mistake of lumping all of the tracks together though, or you will only get the impression that this is just a wall of noise with a lot of unfocused things going on. First listen to each track individually and pick out the elements in each: a little jazz here, a little classical there, a little bit of something else over there. I think this is just genius. I know not everyone will agree, but I love this stuff! Not everyone can pull this off, the combination of old and new and balance it all out so well, though it probably leans toward the strange and dark more than the normal and humorous. In my opinion, this is a masterpiece of post rock and I will rate it as such. 5 stars.

Report this review (#1296996)
Posted Saturday, October 25, 2014 | Review Permalink

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