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Trickster F.
2 stars A pain to one's ears and mind to listen to

Being a huge Ulver fan, I could not resist checking this Demo out as I thought it would be a crucial album in understanding the group - their early influences, their inspirations. However, I couldn't predict such an incoherent demo this one is.

I will not go into detail track to track, because they are quite similiar to each other, so I'll just try to sum it all up. The production is awful. It isn't just bad, it is terrible and I wouldn't be surprised if it was that on purpose in order to sound "atmospheric" and more appealing to the ears of the Norwegian Black Metal underground cult following. The guitar sounds like static noise and it is impossible to hear what riff is being played. The bass, strangely, can be heard amazingly well, and it may seem that it is the actual lead instrument here with guitar serving as incoherent rhythm noise. Don't expect anything from Garm's vocals either - his grunts are pathetic on this release and are anything but convinvingly evil. The music, much like Bergtatt, is divided on three main parts - "heavy", melancholic acoustic and one part that Ulver would never again repeat in their career. It is mortifying, I think: Garm does high screams. I do not know whether it is some traditional Norwegian folk way of singing, which I doubt, or if the young man is inspired by King Diamond's style of singing. What I know is that it sounds extremely awful and embarassing. What's worse is that this "singing" is present on each track except the instrumental Trollskogen, which has no moments of awfulness. There is one moment, though, when one single guitar plays two melodies at the same time and it feels really awkward to listen to this. The songwriting either isn't on its peak yet, or the demo was written quickly without hesitation. The music isn't impressive on any of the tracks, although the title-track features a nice guitar solo that one must struggle to hear as well.

Ah, my ears hurt and I am not far from saying that I regret deciding to hear this. After one listen, however, I have no intentions to go back and listen to this rotten demo. What is left to conclude is that even if you are a fan of Ulver, you aren't missing anything by not hearing this out. No Progressive Music fan would like this release, although I am sure that some of the "true" fans of the raw BM sound would dig this and claim it as the group's best album(because first album/demo is always the best!)and would all lift their horns in the air and defend their opinion with saliva up their mouth. If you are a person still unfamiliar with Ulver's music, I suggest you start either with Perdition City or Blood Inside, their newest album.

Report this review (#72005)
Posted Thursday, March 16, 2006 | Review Permalink
1 stars My terrible cassette, the original demo no less, is not particular appealing. I found it by accident some days ago and fired up a cassette player I have not used for fifteen years. Those memories......... Cassette tapes. My childhood.

The demo feels like it was recorded through the arse of a reindeer. But all demos at that time had that sound. I have heard worse sound than this one. Much worse........ and those demo tapes sells for hundreds of dollars on Ebay. This tape would probably fetch the same amount of money too. That's an idea...

The vocals are not the Garm as we all know. I believe this is his first recording ever and it shows. Not good. The sound makes it difficult to get anything out of the music. Despite of the hype this tape is surrounded by, I cannot find anything of any value here. Just some black metal intercepted by some accoustic pieces which does not make any sense at all. In 2009 and the year following 2009, it is a worthless album. But in it's day, it was an important demo tape.

1.5 stars

Report this review (#230731)
Posted Sunday, August 9, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
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.

Report this review (#2053742)
Posted Tuesday, November 6, 2018 | Review Permalink

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