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ULVER

Post Rock/Math rock • Norway


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Ulver picture
Ulver biography
Founded in Oslo, Norway in 1993

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.

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.

Photo by Kerry O'Sullivan (2009)

See also:
-Arcturus
-Borknagar

ULVER Videos (YouTube and more)


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Buy ULVER Music


Drone Activity 13.10.18Drone Activity 13.10.18
House of Mythology 2019
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The Assassination of Julius CaesarThe Assassination of Julius Caesar
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BergtattBergtatt
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KveldssangerKveldssanger
Head Not Found 2019
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House of Mythology 2018
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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)

4.03 | 150 ratings
Bergtatt - Et Eeventyr I 5 Capitler
1994
3.56 | 100 ratings
Kveldssanger
1996
3.09 | 101 ratings
Nattens Madrigal - Aatte Hymne Til Ulven I Manden
1997
3.85 | 110 ratings
Themes From William Blake's The Marriage Of Heaven And Hell
1998
3.93 | 190 ratings
Perdition City - Music To An Interior Film
2000
3.74 | 65 ratings
Lyckantropen Themes (OST)
2002
3.25 | 61 ratings
Svidd Neger (OST)
2003
3.83 | 156 ratings
Blood Inside
2005
4.06 | 253 ratings
Shadows Of The Sun
2007
3.87 | 158 ratings
Wars Of The Roses
2011
3.64 | 71 ratings
Childhood's End - Lost & Found From The Age Of Aquarius
2012
4.03 | 144 ratings
Ulver & Tromsø Chamber Orchestra: Messe I.X - VI.X
2013
3.36 | 46 ratings
Ulver & Sunn O))) : Terrestrials
2014
3.18 | 11 ratings
Riverhead (OST)
2016
3.70 | 85 ratings
The Assassination Of Julius Caesar
2017

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

3.33 | 12 ratings
Live at Roadburn
2013
4.62 | 15 ratings
The Norwegian National Opera
2013
4.05 | 43 ratings
ATGCLVLSSCAP
2016

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

4.42 | 36 ratings
The Norwegian National Opera
2011

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

3.91 | 2 ratings
The Trilogie: Three Journeyes Through The Norwegian Netherworlde
1997
3.79 | 30 ratings
Teachings in Silence
2002
2.88 | 7 ratings
1993-2003: 1st Decade In The Machines
2003
3.00 | 3 ratings
Oddities And Rarities #1
2012
4.60 | 6 ratings
Trolsk Sortmetall 1993-1997
2014

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

2.06 | 21 ratings
Vargnatt
1993
2.00 | 4 ratings
Rehearsal 1993
1993
2.49 | 25 ratings
Metamorphosis
1999
3.08 | 21 ratings
Silence Teaches You How to Sing
2001
3.17 | 21 ratings
Silencing the Singing
2001
3.81 | 38 ratings
A Quick Fix Of Melancholy EP
2003
2.33 | 3 ratings
Roadburn EP
2012
3.22 | 9 ratings
Sic Transit Gloria Mundi
2017

ULVER Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Assassination Of Julius Caesar by ULVER album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.70 | 85 ratings

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The Assassination Of Julius Caesar
Ulver Post Rock/Math rock

Review by patrickq

3 stars A very modern, electronic album,The Assassination of Julius Caesar is nothing at all what I expected. First of all, I thought it had something to do with, well, the assassination of Julius Caesar. Interesting concept, I thought. Second, although they're classified as Post Rock here, I had understood Ulver to be a progressive-metal outfit. So you can imagine my surprise when The Assassination of Julius Caesar turned out to be an art-pop (or maybe art-rock?) album on which Julius Caesar is at best a minor character.

The Assassination of Julius Caesar has been referred to as synthpop, and I agree. Among the influences here is Gary Numan: the lyrical mood of The Assassination of Julius Caesar is dark and often introverted, but not quite as robotic as Kraftwerk - - and much more somber than Kraftwerk or Devo. In this respect it reminds me of some Human League songs (e.g., "Seconds").

As to the lyrical content, there is a vague theme, even if it's not the assassination of Julius Caesar. Many of the songs reference dark moments in history, sometimes prosaically: "Nero lights up the night / 18th to 19th of July, AD 64;" "There used to be a house at 6114 California Street / 'Helter Skelter.'" In addition to the Great Fire of Rome and the Manson murders (by way of the Church of Satan), reference is made to the Bubonic Plague, the death of Princess Diana and the 1981 assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II. But there are many less literal lyrics which seem to fit the theme, such as "an army charges upon the land to the sound of retreat." This is all fodder for religious allusions, and the lyrics duly name-check a pair of Catholic saints; cite, but do not name an "ancient goddess of the moon;" and refer to both the Roman persecution of Christians and the Second Coming. And perhaps as an amplification of a Greco-Roman lineage of tyranny, Oedipus makes an oblique appearance in the second of two songs to mention Nero. The title of one of the songs, "Angelus Novus," may hint at the lyrical concept. Angelus Novus is a 1920 graphic-art print about whose subject Walter Benjamin wrote, "where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet." This déjà vu is also represented by repetition: in addition to literal repetition of stanzas, there are other repetitions; two of the eight songs mention the moon, while two other mention the sun, for example.

As well thought-out and economical as the lyrics are, the concept underlying The Assassination of Julius Caesar is more engrossing than the actual product. There are several excellent musical passages, but there are also plenty of mundane melodies and chord progressions.

Nonetheless, I consider The Assassination of Julius Caesar to be a "good" album: imperfect, but better than average. I'd especially recommend it to fans of 1980s synthesizer-based pop or rock music.

 Ulver & Sunn O))) : Terrestrials by ULVER album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.36 | 46 ratings

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Ulver & Sunn O))) : Terrestrials
Ulver Post Rock/Math rock

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Ulver is the band of the ever-changing genre, and with their 13th album 'Terrestrials', which is actually a collaboration album with the drone band 'Sunn O)))', they continue to prove this. The album was released in 2014 and is comprised of 3 long and live improvised performances that were later enhanced with other studio additions. The music is slow moving, based on the droning quality of 'Sunn O)))' and the experimental style (or non-style) of 'Ulver'.

'Let There Be Light' is based around a drone style that slowly changes chords in a deep, dark background while heavy percussion crashes and a trumpet provides a slow moving improvisation on top of everything. The music builds on a slow crescendo until when it reaches the end, becomes quite majestic.

'Western Horn' has a more unsettling sound beginning with a deep, wavering drone, then other layers start building over the top of this, creating their own droning sound and a wavering metallic texture created by brass and strings. The sound has got an ancient prehistoric vibe to it. Emerging from the thick drone is a higher pitched texture that just wavers on the edge of being able to break away from the increasing wall of sound. This track is carried slowly forward by a sustained chord progression and by another slow crescendo. At almost 10 minutes, it is the shortest track on the album.

'Eternal Return' starts with the deep chiming of a guitar that sounds somewhat distant while a violin and vibe-like keys move along slowly and cautiously. It has an almost lumbering feel to it and the keys, even though they are bright, do not brighten things up much at all. At 7 minutes, the background noise stops and the track enters into a more melodic sound and Rygg sings in sotto-voce, soft and airy while the strings play and the piano churns out slow chords. Later, he sings out more as the melody takes him to higher notes. After 10 minutes, things get a bit noisier and then tapers off to a more ambient, yet discordant style.

Considering the amazing talent of the two bands involved here, you would have high expectations for quite an amazing collaboration, but the expectations never really get reached. You have to be in the right mood to really enjoy this completely, and even though it is good, meditative or trance-like music, it doesn't quite deliver the goods you would expect. Sure you should expect atmospheric, droning and slow moving music, but it seems to be a little aimless and not quite at the level one expects. It is good for the occasional listen, but there are so many other great albums out there, by both bands, that I would choose over this one. The bar is set so high for both bands though and more direction would have gone a long way for this collaboration.

 Themes From William Blake's The Marriage Of Heaven And Hell by ULVER album cover Studio Album, 1998
3.85 | 110 ratings

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Themes From William Blake's The Marriage Of Heaven And Hell
Ulver Post Rock/Math rock

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Ulver's 4th full length studio album really pissed off a lot of people, especially lovers of Black Metal. This was their first big step away from that style, though it really shouldn't have been as big of a surprise to anyone. I mean, look at their first 3 albums. The first one was a genius mix of black metal and folk metal, gothic in a way, mostly quite loud, vocals that sounded like harmonized monks and a lot more depth than the typical noise metal. The 2nd album was strictly a dark folk concentrating on the acoustic sound, yes it was dark, and the fans accepted it because of it's organic sound. The 3rd album was a study in harsh noise and was the closest thing to the black metal sound. So it was a surprise at the sudden turn that Ulver took here, it was definitely a much wider leap than they took previously. The band always claimed they were not black metal, and now they were out to prove it.

Kristoffer Garm Rygg (Garm) is the leader of the group, and during the break between "Natten's Madrigal" and "Themes from William Blake's The Marriage of Heaven and Hell", he learned how to utilize computers and electronics to add another dimension to the music. I don't know if he had something to prove about Ulver's music, but he wasn't about to be pinned down to one style of music, and his desire to explore other genres shows that he is truly an artist. This undertaking, to make an album based upon this book, was definitely a daunting one, but he was so affected by the writing of William Blake, the band dove into it completely. What resulted was this shocking turn about that in my opinion is nothing short of a masterpiece.

After listening to Natten's Madrigal, this album will come as a complete shock, and you will think you are hearing another band completely. The music is no longer an inpenetrable wall of noise and growling vocals. All of the vocals on this album are clean, they can be harsh at times, but they are melodic more than anything. Also, four other vocalists were recruited to help out on vocals, both female and male. The styles of music on this album varies extensively, going from ambient to melodic to heavy, but always somewhat complex with passages of avant garde style and industrial metal all through the album. The most shocking thing here though, is the sudden use of electronics in the music. This was probably the hardest thing for fans to swallow. But the use of them in this music is genius.

The album is, of course, a musical interpretation of the poem by William Blake. Together with composer Tore Ylwizaker who Garm invited into the band, Garm developed a plan for the album which ended up going way beyond black metal and incorporating several styles. Sure there are places where the styles clash and the changes are abrupt, but interestingly enough, it all works out. The fact that this music could sound as good as it does is a testament to the genius of Ulver and the huge risk they took to produce a record such as this. It is many times beyond description, or at least hard to describe in just a short review. There are just so many sides to it all, and chances are, there is something here that will attract almost anyone, as long as they can get their head around the material. But there will be passages that will turn many off, so an open mind is definitely needed.

Even then, this isn't for everyone because it is quite complicated and it is also imperfect. But those imperfections all become part of the journey and after some listens, they make sense in the total picture. Because of their willingness to try so many different styles and their varied output, they have become one of my favorite bands. In most every case (there have been a few minor failures), they not only surprise with every album, they do it all so well, jumping from one style to the next. But there is always that dark undertone that comes with their music, something that always makes it sound unique, and you usually know quite quickly who it is you are listening to. Since this was their first major step into unpredictability from one album to the next, it seems right to use this review to discuss this path that the band has chosen. The music is too varied and complicated to try to pick apart and analyze, but the album is worth listening to at least once because of its importance to the band and the compositional complexity of it all. It remains a masterpiece in my opinion and should be something that serious progressive rock lovers should hear.

 The Assassination Of Julius Caesar by ULVER album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.70 | 85 ratings

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The Assassination Of Julius Caesar
Ulver Post Rock/Math rock

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

3 stars Not being familiar with the vast discography of this Norwegian collective, and aware of their post-rock designation, I was pleasantly surprised that "The Assassination of Julius Caesar" has much less to do with the musical cataclysms of that genre and much more to do with a prog oriented spin on the New Romantic era of the 1980s. Now that's not as far fetched as one might imagine. Some of the more resourceful bands of that time had recaptured the flag of self indulgence that their punk forefathers had scoffed at less than a decade earlier. Thank goodness for that, and ULVER distills that blend of gaiety and gravity as though they have been practicing it since their inception, which maybe they have.

Others have experienced flashbacks to their huge hair favourites while dialed in to this recording, by house phone of course. I'm going to add to the list by tossing a crumb in the direction of MICHAEL CRETU's ENIGMA, particularly on the epic "Rolling Stone", which unfortunately degenerates into the same quagmire that defines the ending of every post rock track ever. The trio of "Southern Gothic", "Angelus Novus" and "Transverberation" best distill the reverbed reverb, booming yet sullen vocals, and drawn out melodies of that time. The latter is perhaps the best SIMPLE MINDS song never recorded by SIMPLE MINDS.

"The Assassination..." doesn't push the boundaries of its retro style in a momentous manner, which might be more blessing than curse. I suppose they do take a stab at it in the final track, and its not quite the bloodbath one might have expected.

 1993-2003: 1st Decade In The Machines by ULVER album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2003
2.88 | 7 ratings

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1993-2003: 1st Decade In The Machines
Ulver Post Rock/Math rock

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This compilation album, which is really a remix album, was released as recognition to Ulver for their first decade of music. The remixes here were carefully done by artists selected by Ulver, and are all glitch, noise and ambient artists, plus one new Ulver track. The sound is quite similar to the minimalist approach that Ulver was taking at the time with their music. The remixes take small snippets of past Ulver tracks and turn them into something new, but, for the most part, don't expect to recognize the originals, because these tracks have been changed up into completely new tracks by the remix artists. Most of the tracks are based on source material from 'Perdition City' and the 3 EPs that came out around the same time. But there is also source material from the 'William Blake' album, 'Lyckantropen Themes' and 'Nattens Madrigal', but the remixes don't just concentrate on only one track, but incorporate aspects from various tracks within an album. I'm not going to attempt to tell you where the source material comes from on each track, because, quite frankly, it is very hard to determine in most cases. I will try to tell you what to expect though, on a track by track basis.

The album starts out with 'Crack Bug' which is the Ulver original. Starting with some percussive sounds, a moody and dark non-melodic and processed sound plays and this evolves into a sudden loud orchestra of tonal noise. It's interesting, and quite different from where the band was at at the time, because they were experimenting with minimalism and ambience, but this almost the opposite of that.

''A Little Wiser Than the Monkey, Much Wiser Than Seven' (Alexander Rishaug) begins with a high pitched metallic noise/drone with clicks and ticks. Finally, a tonal pattern starts from a synth which establishes a quasi melody, then a rough, industrial guitar sound begins and it seems to pulsate more than strum. The glitchy quality that surrounds the otherwise constant sound gives it an interesting personality. Suddenly the sound stops and things turn more ambient. The heavy sound returns later, but a bit more subdued, but it soon expands into a noise drone. This again diminishes before the end.

'Track Slow Snow' (Information) starts ambient with fluttering clicks and staccato percussive noises. Manipulated tones try to break through and this established a pattern a found and lost again quasi-melody. For a while it goes quite minimal before a processed bass begins to bring it back again. The manipulated pattern recommences. This is very cool sounding and has a slight funk/jazz feel to it even while being mostly minimalistic.

'Lycantropen Remix' (The Third Eye Foundation) utilizes processed snippets of the theme from the soundtrack surrounded by clicks, pops, and processed bell-like sounds. This is probably the most melodic of the tracks thus far, but even then, it is quite sporadic sounding. Later, swirling sythns and guitars give an almost dreamy, dronelike quality that stays in the background.

'Lost in Moments (Remix)' (Upland) has a drone in the background, some various noises like whispered voices, and some percussive glitching. The drone swirls around everything and a drumming pattern lurks subdued in the corner.

'Bog's Basil & Curry Powder Potatoes Recipe' (Bogden Raczynski) has a chip-glitch melody and style that sounds like a humorous video game soundtrack of sorts. It's a nice light-hearted track among a lot of dark and brooding ones. The frantic 1st half gives way to a more laid back 2nd half.

'Der Alte' (Martin Horntveth) starts with German dialogue, possibly from a movie maybe (?) while a string-like melody plays in the background. A soft percussion pattern starts when the dialogue stops and the melody continues. The spoken word starts again, and then suddenly everything else breaks down except for a minimal synth sound and the dialogue continues. Soon the strings come back and establish the melody again.

'He Said ' She Said' (Neotropic) is quite ambient with various noises for the first 2 minutes, then a sudden loud and heavy processed riff takes over with a steady rhythm. At 3:30, it breaks down to atmospheric sounds and a static style drone with occasional percussion. After a minute, the heavy riff and rhythm returns. There seems to be a heavily processed voice trying to sing out, but it stays muffled. The last minute returns to ambient sounds.

'I Love You, But I Prefer Trondheim, Pts. 1 ' 4' (A. Wiltzie vs. Stars of the Lid) begins with a nice, processed yet full orchestral sound, with an introduction that sounds quite familiar. After 3 minutes, this is replaced by a beautiful piano/electronic passage that moves along slowly. After a few minutes, there are some slight orchestral swells and the keyboards fade as the swells become a dynamic drone that ebbs and flows. Soon, a shimmering sound accompanies the loud to soft wave-like pattern. Definitely a stand-out track at over 10 minutes of beauty.

'Only the Poor Have to Travel' (Fennesz) is a mix of glitchy sounds with occasional keyboard snippets and atmospheric sounds traveling from one speaker to the other. It's a good one to hear with headphones and has a nice apocalyptic or otherworldly atmosphere to it.

'Ulvrmxsw5' (Pita) is the first of the last 4 tracks which are all noise oriented tracks. This one is more of a organized noise track that breaks up the source material into a virtual sound collage. All of this is under-layered by a somewhat high-pitched drone. All of the snippets seem to be sucked into the vortex of the drone becoming part of it, layer upon layer.

'Wolf Rotorvator' (Jazzkammer) is a short, dynamic noise piece that can get rather loud for short bursts. It's like 'Nattens Madrigal' was put into a blender. 'The Decent of Men' (VM) seems like a continuation of the previous track, with more noise and less dynamics. Once again, it is rather short and is probably a great track for those that like the sound of a vacuum cleaner on the fritz.

'Vow Me Ibrzu' (Merzbow) is another 10 minute track. It starts out with a repeating musical pattern that sounds like all of the sound has been flattened. It's not long before a huge layer of noisiness comes in. Among the noise drone, you can hear shadows of mostly unintelligible Ulver tracks, all mixed together. This finally stops after 4 minutes and it turns into a more minimal sound of repeating patterns but quite subdued and much fewer this time. At 6 minutes, you can hear a familiar section from one of Ulver's classics with some female vocals in the background. All of this is mixed somewhat flat, and soon, evil sounding noises come along and eat it all up, and then new repeating riffs and patterns create another noisy drone.

This is an interesting mix of styles. There are only a few places where you can recognize snippets of Ulver music, but it is mostly so processed that it all becomes new. I like most of it, but some of it can drag on a little long, and I get tired of the noise tracks quite quickly. Except for a few tracks, I would consider the Ulver original tracks much better. It is interesting to hear what you can do with recycled music, but I would put on an Ulver album over this anyday. There are some nice tracks and passages throughout though, so I believe everything evens out into a 3 star collection/collaboration.

 The Norwegian National Opera by ULVER album cover Live, 2013
4.62 | 15 ratings

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The Norwegian National Opera
Ulver Post Rock/Math rock

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars Wow! What a show! What a concert! The band (with the help of some stellar all-stars like Christian Fennesz and Thomas Pettersen) brings out the best in each song from the span of a long career of diverse musical sounds and styles and fuses it all into one seemless show. The visuals on display on the above-stage film screen couples well with the extraordinary lighting. I love the editing throughout though perhaps more time could have been spent on Garm while he's singing his powerful and heart-felt vocals and less on rather routine and unsurprising keyboard manipulations.

Each time I play this disc I end up watching the whole thing because I get sucked into feeling as if I'm right there in the audience. Favorites include virtually everything though this version of one of the greatest songs ever written, "EOS" from "Shadows of the Sun," tops even the wonderful original. "Little Bird," "A Memorable Fancy," and "Not Saved" are striking, memorable, and sublime.

This is a concert that I would have loved to have been present for but am so glad the DVD exists. Highly recommended.

 Nattens Madrigal - Aatte Hymne Til Ulven I Manden by ULVER album cover Studio Album, 1997
3.09 | 101 ratings

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Nattens Madrigal - Aatte Hymne Til Ulven I Manden
Ulver Post Rock/Math rock

Review by sgtpepper

2 stars Originally, I wanted to give it a harsh one star but after several listens, there is a certain music quality in this - bleak motives, a beautiful acoustic (and only one) passage in the first song.

The albums suffers from being a parody and most importantly - from having a terrible sound - you actually only hear a voice, a guitar and a few drums.

Thankfully, Ulver abandonen this low quality output after this album and improved the sound. For a conventional black metal fan, this is at least an average album, for a progressive fan it is an antonym of progressive music, therefore 2 stars only.

 Bergtatt - Et Eeventyr I 5 Capitler by ULVER album cover Studio Album, 1994
4.03 | 150 ratings

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Bergtatt - Et Eeventyr I 5 Capitler
Ulver Post Rock/Math rock

Review by sgtpepper

5 stars Ulver starts young and already ambitious! Looking for a black metal album that will inspire you to listen to other music styles such as beautiful acoustic music, folk traditions and progressive rock landscapes? Do you want to experience the melancholic winter in the northern Norway while sitting in your armchair at home without having to open your eyes? Then you are the right place!

Bergtatt serves as a phenomenal standout album praised by almost all fan circles - black metal purists, progressive metal/rock open minds, Viking metal fans. The album is well balanced with its soft passages and brutal raw black metal blasts. The music is not very complex but compositionally remarkable and shows that the young lads have listened to something before recording this.

The restrained mood starts with the melodic first song. Worth mentioning are good vocal harmonies and Opeth-like riffing in the second part.

A short beautiful Genesis-like intro produced by flute and acoustic guitar follows and then we're thrown into shrieks and crueless blasts with interesting vocal lines in the background.

The third track "Braablick Blev Hun Vaer" also has a short acoustic intro before exploding into a simple black metal pattern but the menacing chords after a minute have a deep effect and don't get scared by a thunder! ;-) The beautiful pattern that displays a human being walking in a snow, became a popular pattern for the Viking metal bands - here it is accompanied by a classical piano that does not suit the overall concept though. The chord structure that follows is less menacing than in the previous part.

The next song predates the future music orientation on the second album - vocals supported by minimalist guitars. Female support adds to the colour.

The last epic track "Bergtatt-Ind I Fjeldkamrene" features beautiful soft acoustic solo that must have been heard by Mikael Akerfeldt before "Morningrise". The chords are dark and if I can hear well, there are even brass instruments used to a great supporting effect. The storm lasts for a few minutes before the acoustic outro with nature's sound closes this masterpiece.

Even though this album won't be liked by a conventional proghead, I have to attribute it 5 stars as a masterpiece of progressive black metal. There only four similar good releases to my knowledge - one album each by Borknagar, Enslaved and Agalloch.

 Vargnatt by ULVER album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1993
2.06 | 21 ratings

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Vargnatt
Ulver Post Rock/Math rock

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

2 stars 'Vargnatt' is Ulver's 6-song demo recording, recorded in 1993 during the Norwegian black metal explosion. The demo was released originally with only 200 copies, but has later been remastered and released in 2003 because of the increased interest in Ulver's music. This demo shows Ulver in their rawness, before they began their exploration into almost every type of progressive music. Even the remaster is not very clean or polished.

What the remaster does do is help brings out some of the interesting sounds that were buried in the terrible original recording. Vocals are dirty, as to be expected, and there are times when vocals are sung in a high pitch, and they sound just plain awful.

The first track 'Her Begynner Mine Arr' is all heavy black metal with a few riffs that wander off on their own that actually show a slight penchant for exploration even in those early days. 'Tragediens Trone' starts out interestingly enough and not quite as loud, but that is soon lost in the wall of black noise that explodes. Again vocals are screechy when they are high and annoyingly bad when there are a few attempts to make things melodic. Other than that, there is a lot of growling.

'Trollskogen' sounds completely out of place on here because it is a beautiful acoustic solo. You can hear echoes of their 2nd album, which while considered black metal, is actually more dark gothic folk. There are a few whispered vocals, but this track is mostly instrumental and quite nice, at least on the remastered version. The original version sounds like a bad demo, which is what it is. 'Ulverytternes Kamp' starts off pensive enough with a full band and a mix of electric and acoustic guitars. This hints at some ingenuity in the beginning minute, but when those dirty vocals come in, the metal also kicks in and any chance of hearing any more ingenuity is lost. Towards the end at least, you hear some Black Sabbath style riffs.

'Nattens Madrigal' is the name of the 5th track, and would later become the name of their 3rd black metal album, which incidentally has become quite critically acclaimed and many have said it helped set the bar for some of the loudest black metal. After an atmospheric beginning, a sharp guitar crashes in and begins the havoc again. The vocals are more subdued this time, buried under the noise that is until the high pitched singing starts again. The track, even though it shares the name with that 3rd album, is still very low quality, making it hard to pick out any nuances, even on the remaster. The last track is the title track 'Vargnatt'. It starts with a decent drum riff, soon interrupted by a loud guitar riff and more bad vocals.

These tracks, if they were recorded better, actually have some saving grace to them in that Ulver could have made another decent early album out of them. Those that love black metal at it's most raw and intense should love the remaster. But, be warned, that this is worse than any of their first 3 albums by quite a ways, but if you yearn for more of Ulver's style of black metal, this may help. As for me, it's not my cup of tea, and I only listen to it on few occasions when I want to take a trip through the dynamic universe of Ulver's albums. That is the only interest they hold for me as I am always more eager to get to their better albums. I am a big Ulver fan, but I don't see any redeeming qualities to this demo which should only be of interest to black metal fans and collectors.

 Themes From William Blake's The Marriage Of Heaven And Hell by ULVER album cover Studio Album, 1998
3.85 | 110 ratings

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Themes From William Blake's The Marriage Of Heaven And Hell
Ulver Post Rock/Math rock

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars "Themes From William Blake's The Marriage of Heaven and Hell" is the 4th full-length studio album by Norwegian ex experimental metal/rock act Ulver. The album was released through Jester Records in December 1998.

"Themes From William Blake's The Marriage of Heaven and Hell" is a 2 Disc conceptual release and as the title suggests the lyrical theme revolves around the novel "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell" by William Blake. The album probably came as a big surprise for most fans of the band when it was originally released. The three albums that preceeded this one are all rooted in black metal and Scandinavian folklore. The acoustic folky second album "Kveldssanger (1995)" probably also came as a big surprise when it was released as the debut album "Bergtatt (1994)" is a black metal album. Mo Most fans still saw Ulver as a black metal act though and when they returned with their third album "Nattens Ma Madrigal (1996)", which also saw a return to the black metal style of the debut (but adding a grimmer more raw sound), that se seemed to hold true. "Themes From William Blake's The Marriage of Heaven and Hell" takes Ulver music in a wh whole new direction though and while they probably lost a few of their most conservative black metal fans they gained new mo more experimental minded music fans with this release.

Ulver's music on "Themes From William Blake's The Marriage of Heaven and Hell" can no longer be called metal. Ther There are sections with distorted guitars but metal it ain't. Instead there's much focus on vocals (both male and female, and quit quite a bit of narration), ambient electronic elements, and a strong emphasis on dark atmosphere. Ambient and atmospheric indu industrial tinged rock/metal could be a valid description. It's an album which is all about atmosphere, and listeners craving riffs and and hard rocking parts should look elsewhere.

"Themes From William Blake's The Marriage of Heaven and Hell" is both well performed and well produced, and to those in interested in dark atmospheric and ambient music, it's quite an interesting and obviously well composed album too. Personally I fi find it lacking memorable moments and it's a bit overlong too. When the band finally break the ambient monotony and play so some louder more rock/metal oriented parts, it's still pretty monotone and just goes on and on an on with little to hold on to. Su Subjective opinions and taste in music aside, it's still obvious that "Themes From William Blake's The Marriage of Heaven an and Hell" is a quality release performed by skilled and passionate performers, and therefore a 3.5 star (70%) rating is de deserved.

(Originally posted on Metal Music Archives)

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

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