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Ulver - Blood Inside CD (album) cover




Post Rock/Math rock

3.89 | 177 ratings

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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.

Figglesnout | 4/5 |


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