Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography

ULVER

Post Rock/Math rock • Norway


From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Ulver picture
Ulver biography
Founded in Oslo, Norway in 1993 - Still active as of 2019

ULVER are a Norwegian trio who started life as a black-metal band. They have gradually developed an experimental Progressive Metal style and their avante-garde sound is seen to best effect on their 2005 release, Blood Inside. The current line-up (as of July 2004) is Kristoffer Garm Rygg, Jørn H. Sværen, and Tore Ylwizaker. Former members include guitarist Grellmund who committed suicide in late 1997 and Håvard Jørgensen who contributes guitar on their latest album. Related bands include Coil and Borknagar.

Photo by Kerry O'Sullivan (2009)

Apart from their latest album, "Blood Inside", other notable experimantal and progressive works include Themes from William Blake's "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell", released in 1998 and "Metamorphosis" and "Perdition City" which are even more experimental than the "Blake Album" especially in their use of electronics.

See also:
-Arcturus
-Borknagar

ULVER forum topics / tours, shows & news


ULVER forum topics Create a topic now
ULVER tours, shows & news Post an entries now

ULVER Videos (YouTube and more)


Showing only random 3 | Search and add more videos to ULVER

Buy ULVER Music



More places to buy ULVER music online

ULVER discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

ULVER top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.02 | 170 ratings
Bergtatt - Et Eeventyr I 5 Capitler
1994
3.58 | 121 ratings
Kveldssanger
1996
3.21 | 114 ratings
Nattens Madrigal - Aatte Hymne Til Ulven I Manden
1997
3.84 | 126 ratings
Themes From William Blake's The Marriage Of Heaven And Hell
1998
3.92 | 212 ratings
Perdition City - Music To An Interior Film
2000
3.72 | 71 ratings
Lyckantropen Themes (OST)
2002
3.37 | 68 ratings
Svidd Neger (OST)
2003
3.89 | 173 ratings
Blood Inside
2005
4.05 | 285 ratings
Shadows Of The Sun
2007
3.80 | 174 ratings
Wars Of The Roses
2011
3.63 | 79 ratings
Childhood's End - Lost & Found from the Age of Aquarius
2012
3.93 | 159 ratings
Ulver & Tromsø Chamber Orchestra: Messe I.X - VI.X
2013
3.33 | 51 ratings
Ulver & Sunn O))) : Terrestrials
2014
3.19 | 16 ratings
Riverhead (OST)
2016
3.74 | 108 ratings
The Assassination Of Julius Caesar
2017
3.64 | 45 ratings
Flowers of Evil
2020
2.44 | 13 ratings
Scary Muzak
2021

ULVER Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.25 | 12 ratings
Live at Roadburn
2013
4.63 | 19 ratings
The Norwegian National Opera
2013
4.00 | 51 ratings
ATGCLVLSSCAP
2016
3.66 | 16 ratings
Drone Activity
2019
4.67 | 6 ratings
Hexahedron - Live at Henie Onstad Kunstsenter
2021

ULVER Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.60 | 39 ratings
The Norwegian National Opera
2011

ULVER Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.92 | 3 ratings
The Trilogie: Three Journeyes Through The Norwegian Netherworlde
1997
3.80 | 32 ratings
Teachings in Silence
2002
2.89 | 8 ratings
1993-2003: 1st Decade In The Machines
2003
3.00 | 3 ratings
Oddities And Rarities #1
2012
4.56 | 7 ratings
Trolsk Sortmetall 1993-1997
2014

ULVER Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

2.06 | 22 ratings
Vargnatt
1993
2.00 | 4 ratings
Rehearsal 1993
1993
2.38 | 30 ratings
Metamorphosis
1999
3.32 | 25 ratings
Silence Teaches You How to Sing
2001
3.39 | 25 ratings
Silencing the Singing
2001
3.81 | 41 ratings
A Quick Fix Of Melancholy EP
2003
2.33 | 3 ratings
Roadburn EP
2012
3.74 | 15 ratings
Sic Transit Gloria Mundi
2017

ULVER Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Scary Muzak by ULVER album cover Studio Album, 2021
2.44 | 13 ratings

BUY
Scary Muzak
Ulver Post Rock/Math rock

Review by A Crimson Mellotron
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Ulver's spookfest? 2021's 'Scary Muzak' is a surprise album by the Norwegian electronic and art rock band, essentially a pretend-soundtrack/score, posing as a celebration of the band members' love for the horror movie genre and the Halloween spirit - all good, but this recording could briefly be disregarded as a boring collection of spooky tunes, scooped up after an unsuccessful Halloween teen party. Well, there might have been a slice of exaggeration here, but the truth is that this so-called studio album is uneventful, absolutely forgettable, unimpressive and quickly tiresome, with all of its dry and already-heard instrumentals (they make them the same in every scary movie).

Moreover, it is a fabulous disappointment if we take it as the follow-up to the previous two synthpop releases by the band, 'Flowers of Evil' and 'The Assassination' - while 'Scary Muzak' might have some glimpses of these aforementioned release, it is the very pale, much weaker and severely less entertaining brother of theirs, and while this one tends to fit the synthwave label more, the fact that it fails to keep the listener attentive is a certain sign that something is wrong. I imagine that if this was to be reduced almost half in length and released as an EP, it might have been received better. Some of the songs are fine, but most of 'Scary Muzak' is just filler and really sounds like leftovers from previous recording sessions.

 The Assassination Of Julius Caesar by ULVER album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.74 | 108 ratings

BUY
The Assassination Of Julius Caesar
Ulver Post Rock/Math rock

Review by A Crimson Mellotron
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 'The Assassination of Julius Caesar' from 2017 is the eleventh studio album by one of Norway's most exciting musical shapeshifters, Ulver, one of the many bands hailing from the northern country that fits quite impressively the progressive tag, as they have tried everything from grotesque black metal with doomy musical collages, to experimental and ambient art rock, to pure-hearted synthpop, full of gay but occasionally grim layers of electronic sounds. This specific album in question marks the band's shift to the aforementioned synthpop allure of band leader Kristoffer Rygg, but in reality, the record combines textures of dance music, electronica, darkwave, and eventually electropop.

The dark tone is perhaps quite well depicted by the slightly obscene cover art, depicting a fragment of the ingenious marble sculpture of Gian Lorenzo Bernini, 'Ratto di Proserpina' (or 'The Rape of Proserpina'), and the religious and mythological topics will be further touched upon in the songs themselves. As for the sounding of this very interesting record, it has to be said that 'The Assassination of Julius Caesar' is an absolutely brilliant and comprehensive release, one of the most well-written and even better performed art rock/synthpop song collections I have ever heard - from the very beginning the soft and nurturing nuances of the electronic soundscapes shelter the listener and allow him to peacefully embark on a sonic journey through the vast worlds of the various programming and electronic sonic paintings, aided by some great drumming and percussions, some occasional guitars, and a surprising but sincerely welcome saxophone part in one of the songs.

The album is kicked off by the energetic 'Nemoralia', a fantastic album opener and a very well-constructed song, impressing mostly with the catchiness intertwined with the depth of the lyrical content and the beauty of all the sounds working together. Same compliment goes to track two, the nearly 10-minute long 'Rolling Stone', the song that could be thought to be the big winner on this 2017 Ulver release, with the female vocals adding an especially gracious touch to the already-excellent electronic composition. 'So Falls the World' is more soothing, allowing the listener to unwind a bit after the exaltations of the previous track, while 'Southern Gothic' sweeps him away once again, with its heavier approach. It is evident that so far the focus of this record are (while this may not be as explicit at first) the stories that are being told. Track five is 'Angelus Novus', a more ambient piece, reminiscing quite distantly 'So Falls the World'. 'Transverberation' is to me the Depeche Mode moment of Rygg, and more specifically, his Martin Gore impersonation, even vocally, while '1969' is more dramatic and has a slightly romantic touch to the way it unfolds. Finally, there is the 8-minute 'Coming Home': this one is simply peculiar but tremendously enjoyable.

Excellent really, a very enjoyable release from the first glimpses of 'Nemoralia' until the final seconds of 'Coming Home', Ulver have definitely achieved something special with 'The Assassination of Julius Caesar' - this album is full of satiating soundscapes, intricate arrangements, lovely vocals, and dreamy episodes, and is above all, quite far away from the generic, sample synthpop record, whose capabilities have been abused (and compressed) by the more mainstream artists of nowadays - this album, contrariwise, is simultaneously a proposal for the seeking listener and a presentation of what the music could sound like and where the genre could have gone, and how much depth you can fill in some 43 minutes of time.

 Flowers of Evil by ULVER album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.64 | 45 ratings

BUY
Flowers of Evil
Ulver Post Rock/Math rock

Review by A Crimson Mellotron
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 'Flowers of Evil' is the twelfth studio album by black metal-turned-synthpop Norwegian band Ulver, a rock act in their essence, but a very unpredictable musical outfit in reality. This 2020 release is a very straightforward synthpop album, a pretty classic-style track list, consisting of just eight tracks spanning across some thirty-eight minutes of playtime, with the average song length being around the 4-minute mark. It is all very accessible but also very interesting and entertaining, as this album sounds quite murky and melancholic, with some moments of strong 'Black Celebration'-era Depeche Mode resemblance. This record, however, is overall less diverse in terms of sounds and moods, as all the songs almost strictly follow the same pattern, if you will, focusing on slow build-ups, lots of layers of synth sounds, warm male vocals, and introspective & introverted lyricism.

The main mastermind behind the music is band leader Kristoffer Rygg, handling all the vocals and some programming on 'Flowers of Evil', also writing the lyrics to the tracks, while there is a cast of other musicians, almost all Norwegians, playing anything from keyboards, electronics, percussions, bass guitars, violins, drums, bagpipes and what have you, to some satisfying and enthralling results. The depth of some of the songs is pretty impressive, as I can firmly state that this album proposes some of the most convincing electronic and art rock-tinted-synthpop compositions of this century; These would, of course, include 'Russian Doll', a more mellow, darker number, with an addictive chorus and some memorable lyrics, 'Machine Guns and Peacock Feathers', a more upbeat one, with its very attractive pulsating soundscapes as well as the great songwriting, 'Apocalypse 1993', an almost EDM-vibe penetrates this pretty decent track, and 'A Thousand Cuts', the album closer and probably the most emotive of all the songs. The rest of the record is more generic and quite forgettable, especially when compared to these highlight tracks mentioned just a smidgeon ago.

'Flowers of Evil' is certainly a very modern-sounding, honest and intelligent collection of songs, all falling under the synthpop (and maybe even darkwave) umbrella, as Ulver take a further step away from their rock and metal roots - the end result: entertaining, occasionally thrilling, sometimes a bit boring, but pretty good when looked at as a whole and when looked at as a two-sided classic format album. However, I cannot help but convince myself that the covert art gives a promise for a much better, far more sinister and deeply-touching LP, and the reality is not necessarily fitting this tiny description.

 Scary Muzak by ULVER album cover Studio Album, 2021
2.44 | 13 ratings

BUY
Scary Muzak
Ulver Post Rock/Math rock

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

3 stars ULVER continues to be Norway's greatest shapeshifters having released material that is as diverse as black metal, dark folk and progressive avant-garde post industrial metal to ambient electronic and even synthpop. Well here's another one for the resume. Released on Halloween of 2021, ULVER has unleashed its first horror synth album that mixes progressive electronic and synthwave to celebrate the holiday cheer. Creepy and suspenseful and filled with dark ominous tones and timbres, SCARY MUZAK is definitely not where anybody could've predicted this band would go!

This album is more than just scary music for the Halloween holiday's sake but is a reinterpretation of John Carpenter's soundtrack music for the film. To be more accurate, SCARY MUZAK features five covers of classic soundtrack works of JC with the remaining seven tracks originals inspired by those pieces and put into the context of scary synthesizer sounds. Somewhat in the vein of Buckethead's countdown to Halloween marathon in 2015 but sounding more like the scary soundtrack music of the Italian proggers Goblin except ULVER jettisons all rock aspects altogether.

ULVER has had a somewhat fluid lineup over its 30 years of history. This album features the quartet of Ole Alexander Halstensgård (electronics), Kristoffer Rygg (percussion), Tore Ylwizaker (synthesizer) and Stian Westerhus (guitar) although i can't say i hear much guitar taking place so i guess that they are probably processed beyond recognition. The music while mostly electronically based on synthesizers flows a lot like a classical music score with tones and timbres gliding in and out of aural range along with drones, electronic drumbeats, oscillations, pitch slides and other cool electronic accoutrements.

The gist is a beefy bass groove, some strange upper range weirdness and a scary treble keyboard riff which is what sounds the most like the world of Goblin. The percussive drive is varied with some moments feeling tribal and others feeling a bit robotic. The tracks are fairly short and to the point with none exceeding the five minute mark. The album while not a soundtrack score per se certainly does evoke the sense of being one and it's not unfathomable that these tracks would somehow be used in that manner.

While certainly amusing and well executed, the problem with this album is that it does not really convey the scariness of the Halloween holiday however even if the whole point was to emulate the Halloween film's soundtrack, it all seems a bit pointless as the album sounds as if it exists in the world of the Italian film soundtrack powerhouse Goblin. In other words ULVER hasn't found its own niche in crafting this sort of musical mosaic and therefore it sounds rather derivative of the Goblin universe with a particular feel of "Suspiria." Not bad but not exactly what scratches my itch if i have the urge to check out this style of synthesized electronica. What's next ULVER? Marching band renditions of classic ABBA songs? Why the hell not?!!!

 Scary Muzak by ULVER album cover Studio Album, 2021
2.44 | 13 ratings

BUY
Scary Muzak
Ulver Post Rock/Math rock

Review by DamoXt7942
Forum & Site Admin Group Avant/Cross/Neo/Post Teams

2 stars Dreamy but scary electronika, and ULVER's spirit and intention for experimentalism are still alive, under such a pandemic situation. Their latest album "Scary Muzak" has another subtitle "Pandemic Pastime Project" which would mean all Ulverians enjoyed playing and recording the material for this creation 'virtually', I guess. Like scary background music via the air, time dominated by coronavirus goes forward slowly. We are afraid whether we could see the light in near future, but it sounds like they would mention we should never give up under such a dark circumstance ... by the words "Pandemic Pastime" and their gloomy but flowery opus. Although this creation cannot'be called as progressive rock, their strongly positive attitude for creativity should be heard. In addition, we could feel their energy to bring a happy life back directly via it.

As mentioned above, we cannot hear any 'rock' element but kinda electronic / ambient features through this album. The first shot "Aleen Howl" is a good example. Repetitive phrases constructed with synthesizers sound a bit critical, and stereotyped rhythmic vibes are inorganic but mystically addictive. Good to hear some powerful beats too. "Genet Nightingale" makes us impatient with the current tough situation, maybe like themselves. On the contrary, the following track "Addi Fled Hon" sounds more hopeful and thankful, the last scene is slightly tragic though. In "Club Fuego" we can enjoy dramatic, theatrical movements produced with beautiful, atmospheric keyboard plays. It's well understood that they would elaborate this album fully with cooped-up feelings and resistance against the feelings. Easily imagined they have sometimes got addicted to electronic pop upon the production. We the audience can find out the essence ... that's why such a scary muzak sounds somewhat enjoyable and delightful. Not progressive nor rock-ish but fascinating nonetheless.

 Blood Inside by ULVER album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.89 | 173 ratings

BUY
Blood Inside
Ulver Post Rock/Math rock

Review by DamoXt7942
Forum & Site Admin Group Avant/Cross/Neo/Post Teams

5 stars Our blood is boiling and muscle is moving in a lively manner. ULVER's "Blood Inside" released in 2005 lets us know what they would like to do in this album and how they should pass on their soundscape for us via this creation. Tough for us to classify this stuff which involves full of experimental, post, post-metal, electronic, classical, or diverse essence (and which subgenre they should belong to is under discussion even currently, how interesting), but who cares ... no suspicion this album is fascinating and innovative in the sense that we can enjoy various, colourful musical elements. Let me claim this is not so-called progressive rock, because they obviously launched their original, creative messages through "Blood Inside" that vibrate our brain continuously all through the exhibition.

The first "Dressed In Black" proposes dark electronika in the very beginning. Heavy, depressive instrumental works plus rough voices and chilling chorus knocks us completely out. Such a procession they shoot here sounds more of experimental metal and stimulates our progressive mind into activity. The last congestion of ambience and complicated piano deliveries is also enchanting. The following "For The Love Of God" is another crazy ****ing one filled with deepness, weirdness and calmness. Their repetitive hallucinogenic sound elaboration reminds us of some leaning towards a kind of Kraut-ish construction, but we can feel coolness via the coarse desert segments deeply in it. In "Christmas" apparent sarcastic delights and critical moments both can be enjoyed. Wondering what they want to tell the audience in the middle part, where rough darkness is dominant. On the contrary, the last phase sounds fantastic, beautiful but simultaneously disquieting. Such a complex unification of sound should be their strong intention and attitude for creativity. Surprisingly "Blinded By Blood" is pretty simple and mystic.

One of my favourite tracks "It Is Not Sound" is another controversial creation indeed, featuring J. S. Bach's Toccata and Fugue BWV 565, but it's a good point that they incredibly digest and sublimate this renowned gem. Sorry I cannot stress so confidently but their heavy experimentalism goes forward along with such an ultimate classical masterpiece. The former kaleidoscopic metallic sound bullets are also impressive. Any similarity to one of pop / psych rock / chorus giants The Beach Boys can be heard via "The Truth"? Maybe I'm incorrect but I cannot help feeling like that. What a wondrous truth. The most avantgarde, experimental journey can be touched in the sixth track "In The Red" possessing jazzily atmospheric procedures in the latter part. Such a diversity like this can tell us their profound musicality. "Your Call" where ringing sounds are quite effective is postic and introverted. Dry-fruity, improvised violin playings also ring our bell, and eccentric quietness is going to be followed by a loud, tough situation - the epilogue "Operator", the quirkiest, most violent critical hit. Earthy, unrefined sound collective should be another appearance of theirs. Good to know we cannot breathe until the end of this album.

Anyway at last, please let me appreciate many discussers for ULVER.

 Kveldssanger by ULVER album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.58 | 121 ratings

BUY
Kveldssanger
Ulver Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Gallifrey

3 stars Listening diary 11th February, 2021: Ulver - Kveldssanger (dark folk, 1996)

It's undeniably pretty, but up until now it's really just gone in one ear and out the other for me. Perhaps that's something to be celebrated with what is ultimately a mood piece, because it does cast a beautifully melancholic and wistful aura over whatever scene it graces, even if it doesn't make much of an imprint. From a stylistic perspective, it's also another outstanding genre shift from one of the finest of them all for changing sounds - the fact that they never returned to this sound really does show how sucessfully they achieved their goal of a folk piece with a particular atmosphere. Time will tell if this grows on me further, but for now it's nice to relax to.

6.6 (3rd listen)

Part of my listening diary from my facebook music blog - www.facebook.com/TheExoskeletalJunction

 Metamorphosis by ULVER album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1999
2.38 | 30 ratings

BUY
Metamorphosis
Ulver Post Rock/Math rock

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

2 stars "Metamorphosis" is an EP release by Norwegian music act Ulver. The EP was released through Jester Records in September 1999. It bridges the gap between the band´s fourth and fifth full-length studio albums "Themes From William Blake's The Marriage Of Heaven And Hell (1998)" and "Perdition City: Music To An Interior Film (2000)".

"Themes From William Blake's The Marriage Of Heaven And Hell" was quite the departure from the band´s black/folk metal past, featuring an avant garde/experimental rock/metal style, but "Metamorphosis" proves that Ulver were far from finished developing and changing their sound. Stylistically the 4 tracks on the 25:17 minutes long EP are experimental electronic music, which is predominantly instrumental but occasionally also features vocals. In retrospect it was obviously Ulver experimenting with electronic effects, sounds, rhythms, and technology in preperation for working on and recording the material for "Perdition City: Music To An Interior Film (2000)", but back then it was a bit of a shock release for most fans.

To others it proved what they had long known, that Ulver were an unpredictable act, composing and playing exactly the type of music they wanted, without regards to the wishes of the fans and the critics. They even adress this in the sleeve notes to the EP, explaining that they don´t see themselves as a black metal band anymore, and that they think of the early part of their discography as a stepping stone to something else.

"Metamorphosis" is an ambient release. It´s not slow and droning all the time (only "Of Wolves And Withdrawal" fully falls under that catagory), but both mid-paced and even upbeat at times, featuring some busy programmed drums. Layers upon layers of sounds and effects make up the tracks, which according to band founder Kristoffer Rygg were slowly developed as a result of improvisations in the studio. As a consequence you´ll have to look long for conventional vers/chorus structures or catchiness in general. It´s music featuring interesting ideas, but to my ears they seem a little random and a bit more structure and a few more catchy moments could have made this a more memorable listen. I´m not blown away by what I hear (the closing 8:55 minutes long "Of Wolves And Withdrawal" is a downright tedious affair), but a 2.5 star (50%) rating is still warranted.

(Originally posted on Metal Music Archives)

 Flowers of Evil by ULVER album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.64 | 45 ratings

BUY
Flowers of Evil
Ulver Post Rock/Math rock

Review by lukretio

5 stars A new Ulver album is always cause of great excitement for me. I got hooked on the Norwegians' shapeshifting music relatively late, in 2000 when they released their electronic masterpiece Perdition City. I have loved almost all of their albums since then, with very few exceptions (the angular Blood, the drone experiments of ATGCLVLSSCAP). But even those albums that I could not fully get into, I nevertheless listened to with interest and respect, because I consider Ulver to be true artists, who always try to say something new and genuine with their unpredictable musical style. Indeed, if there is one thing I learned from my twenty-year relation with the music of Ulver is to expect the unexpected from their releases, each new album an abrupt stylistic left-turn relative to the previous one. This of course contributes to the excitement of a new Ulver's record, as I never quite know what musical direction they will take next. So what is the surprise this time, you ask? Well, as band leader Kristoffer Rygg (aka Garm) put it himself in an interview, this time the surprise is that there is no surprise! Flower of Evil follows closely in the footsteps of 2017's The Assassination of Julius Caesar, continuing Ulver's exploration with the worlds of synthpop and dark wave, in the vein of Depeche Mode or Clan of Xymox. The two albums also explore similar narratives, with song lyrics that are imbued with historical and artistic references ('Apocalypse 1993' is inspired by the law enforcement siege against the religious sect Branch Davidians, and 'Lost Boy' by the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; 'Hour of the Wolf' references an Ingmar Bergman's movie and 'A Thousand Cuts' a Pier Paolo Pasolini's movie).

However, there are also clear differences between the two albums. Julius Caesar was playful and self-indulgent, bursting with instrumental acrobatics that stretched the songs in unexpected directions. Flowers of Evil is much more restrained and focussed. Musical exploration and harmonic complexity are kept to a minimum this time. The arrangements are sparse and minimal, with each instrument only adding essential touches to contribute to the low-key atmosphere of the album. The song structure is kept simple and short, cutting down exploration and jams (the instrumental mini-coda of 'Lost Boy' being a rare exception). There are also subtle differences in sound between the two albums. Julius Caesar had a very warm and vibrant sound, with swathes of lush synths placed at the forefront in the mix. Flowers of Evil is colder, darker and eerier ' obsessive beats and bass lines and Rygg 's morose vocals dominating the scene. A user on an online forum described Flowers of Evil as the 'introverted young brother' of Julius Caesar, and I cannot think of a better way to express the comparison between the two albums.

These characteristics ' minimalism, coldness, lifelessness ' make Flowers of Evil an album that is not as instantly loveable as Julius Caesar was. It took me a while to fully get into the moody atmosphere of the album. However, once I did, I found that there is plenty to appreciate and cherish on this album. The sparse arrangements push Rygg's vocals center stage, and he has never sounded better. His voice and tone are very special and he has a unique ability to craft vocal lines that are catchy, but at the same time sophisticated and dramatic. His croon gives the songs a sombre and melancholic mood that keeps drawing me back for more. Another major attraction of the album is the incredible level of detail and sophistication of the arrangements. Flowers of Evil is one of those albums that are best appreciated with headphones so that one can spot all its hidden contours and colors. Stian Westerhus' guitar lines, for instance, are really minimalist, yet incredibly creative and effective (listen for example to the howls that Westerhus manages to pull from his guitar on 'Lost Boy', or the super-tasty leads on 'A Thousand Cuts'). Eerie sound effects underscore the most dramatic vocal passages on 'Russian Doll', while subtle string arrangements add an end-of-the-world feel to the apocalyptic love story told on 'A Thousand Cuts'. The album is literally a treasure-trove of hidden sounds and effects, and keeps revealing new layers with each listen. Great merits for this go to the production by Martin 'Youth' Glover (Killing Joke) and Michael Rendall (The Orb), which is superb: polished but organic and well-balanced, it gives the album a truly smooth and cohesive feel. Indeed, Flowers of Evil has a flow and consistency across its 8 tracks that make it feel much more like an album than Julius Caesar, whose musical palette was instead more heterogeneous and incorporated a broader variety of styles (psychedelia, gothic, industrial, trance). These influences surface also on Flowers of Evil (both 'Lost Boy' and 'Nostalgia' have a faint 60s/70s feel; subtle industrial touches appear on the gorgeous 'Hour of the Wolf'), but in a much more understated way, without veering too far from the synthpop roots of the album.

The end result is an album that sound more assured and accomplished than The Assassination of Julius Caesar. Fans of the Wolves may be disappointed that the band this time did not take another left-turn to a new unexplored musical direction. I was taken aback too, initially. However, I am now glad that Ulver decided to hover just a little bit longer in the musical space that they first stumbled upon with their previous album. The special blend of gloomy synthpop that they offered on that album had time to mature in the 3 years between Julius Caesar and Flowers of Evil, and this clearly shows on the new album. However, Flowers of Evil is also less immediate and inviting than its predecessor, making it an album that is somewhat difficult to get into. Give it time, though, and it will reveal itself as an extremely deep and rewarding musical journey.

(Originally written for The Metal Observer)

 Drone Activity by ULVER album cover Live, 2019
3.66 | 16 ratings

BUY
Drone Activity
Ulver Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Ulver's musical interests bounce around all over the place - we're talking about a group whose discography ranges from the rawest of raw black metal to dark folk music to synthpop, after all - so it's nice of them to give this release an apt title to tip us off to what to expect.

Though a live album, Drone Activity consists of all-original material. Don't think "drone" in the sense of, say, Ulver buddies Sunn O))) - instead, think "drone" in the sense of some of the mid-1970s work of progressive electronic masters like Tangerine Dream or Klaus Schulze. Heck, the album is even structured like Tangerine Dream's Zeit, with its four electronic ambient pieces occupying a timespan which would, were this to get a vinyl release, have each track taking up a side of a double album.

Don't think this is a full-on pastiche of Tangerine Dream, however; the aesthetic of Ulver's vampiric cyberpunk works of yesteryear is thick on the ground here, the band simply using a Tangerine Dream-esque format as a springboard for improvisation in their own distinctive style. The end result is another compelling release from a band who are never less than interesting.

Thanks to tony r for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: JazzMusicArchives.com — jazz music reviews and archives | MetalMusicArchives.com — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.