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Ulver Nattens Madrigal - Aatte Hymne Til Ulven I Manden album cover
3.19 | 122 ratings | 13 reviews | 19% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1997

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Hymne I - Of Wolf and Fear (6:16)
2. Hymne II - Of Wolf and the Devil (6:21)
3. Hymne III - Of Wolf and Hatred (4:48)
4. Hymne IV - Of Wolf and Man (5:21)
5. Hymne V - Of Wolf and the Moon (5:14)
6. Hymne VI - Of Wolf and Passion (5:48)
7. Hymne VII - Of Wolf and Destiny (5:32)
8. Hymne VIII - Of Wolf and the Night (4:38)

Total Time 43:58

Line-up / Musicians

- "Garm" (Kristoffer Rygg) / vocals
- "Haavard" (Håvard Jørgensen) / guitar
- "Aismal" (Torbjørn Pedersen) / guitar
- "Skoll" (Hugh Stephen James Mingay) / bass
- "AiwarikiaR" (Erik Olivier Lancelot) / drums

Releases information

‎Artwork: Tanya Stene

‎LP Century Media - 77198-1 3 (1997, Germany)

CD Century Media - 77158-2 (1997, Germany)
CD Century Black - 7858-2 (1997, US)

Thanks to useful_idiot for the addition
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ULVER Nattens Madrigal - Aatte Hymne Til Ulven I Manden ratings distribution

(122 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(19%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(27%)
Good, but non-essential (27%)
Collectors/fans only (16%)
Poor. Only for completionists (11%)

ULVER Nattens Madrigal - Aatte Hymne Til Ulven I Manden reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by OpethGuitarist
2 stars What does Ulver leave us with before there exploration into experimental territory? The definitive black metal album. From this album Ulver would make perhaps the greatest left turn in music history.

Looking back now let's attempt to analyze what the genius that is Garm did here. The question is why did they make this record, and why the change that is evident in Themes? From even the first release, Bergtatt, it was fairly clear that Ulver had something else in them, no one knew exactly what that was, but it was clear that there was more to this band and some of its members than typical black metal.

It is my theory, that this record was designed to show that Ulver was superior to its black metal peers, that Garm knew he was gifted, and knew that his musical direction would change. However, before he made that change, he wanted to "show-off" his greatness, to put something out there to the black metal genre and say to its cult following, "Beat this record, I dare you." Indeed, Ulver may have produced the CTTE of Black Metal. Not only this, but it helped set up the radical change that Garm wanted to undertake. Think about it, what better way to make the most drastic left turn in the history of music, than to create a record that is the pinnacle of something you do not even care to do anymore, rather than gradually adjusting your sound, but to make a large jolt that would shock people. A great marketing technique actually.

Am I reading too much into this? Quite possibly. For now I'll let the genius that is Garm/Trickster G. guide the way.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Nattens Madrigal is the third studio album from experimental extreme metal( avant garde rock act Ulver. Ulver´s two first albums Bergtat (1994) and Kveldssanger (1995) had proven that Ulver was not your average black metal band even though the music on Bergtat is definitely black metal. Kveldssanger was a big surprise for many people though because Ulver didn´t follow up their success on Bergtat with another black metal album. Kveldssanger is an acoustic and folky album. Nattens Madrigal takes us back into Black metal territory and is IMO Ulver´s most extreme album.

The music is not without melody though and we´re still treated with a couple of beautiful acoustic parts here and there. The fast tremolo riffing is actually pretty melodic as well. I´m reminded more than one time of the legendary ( yet very unknown) Swedish death metal band Unanimated and their album In the Forest of the Dreaming Dead (1993) ( and remember I said it was the band and not the movie, so don´t come complaining to me when you´re treated with countless zombies and dead body parts coming alive after being injected with a green fluid). The vocals are raspy black metal style. The pace is mostly fast but not extremely fast ( hyper blasts).

The musicianship is excellent. The technical skills are great but it´s more the compositional skills that I´m impressed about.

The production is a problem for me. It´s very thin and the guitar has a horrible sound. The worst part is that this sound is made on purpose. This is how they wanted it to sound. It´s an aquired taste I´m sure because I have friends who like the thin black metal sound. I grew up listening to full and bass deep death metal production from Morrisound and Sunlight studios and I just never got on the black metal wagon ( with a few exceptions), partially because of the thin and to my ears annoying sound quality many of the bands chose to use on purpose. So you might enjoy it more than I do.

Nattens Madrigal is a great album and that´s even though it has a production that I don´t enjoy much. But on the other hand the production does take away the fourth star I would have given Nattens Madrigal and I will only give it 3 stars. Ulver would totally change their style after Nattens Madrigal so this is the last chance to hear why Ulver was one of the genre defining and biggest black metal acts in the nineties.

Review by JJLehto
1 stars After the purely folk piece that was "Kveldssanger" Ulver released this piece of music. I honestly don't know if I can think of a more extreme 180. This album is pure, straight up black metal. For those who are not quite sure what that is, (at least musically....we all know about the church burnings) black metal is a very raw, abrasive genre of music. Usually features long, repetitive songs of manic tremolo picking, blast beats and shrieking vocals. It is often, purposely, produced with low quality.

This album hits everyone of those points. Every song is at least 4 and a half minutes long and nothing but blast beats, a distorted buzz that I can only assume is guitar, (being frantically picked into oblivion) and shrieking. There is the occasional, and I mean occasional riff, and the only real break is a 40 second acoustic section in the first song, (which is quite nice) and the very end of some songs.

There is the occasional solo which for black metal is quite unconventional. The vocals are actually tolerable. They are not the usual really high pitched black metal shriek but more of a throaty growling. Also, they can be a but buried in the wall of sound anyway so it may not matter. Finally, you want low quality? I have heard some lo-fi music in my day, but this album is truly low-fi. Hell, even for black metal the quality of this album is impressively low.

So that is it. This album is as straightforward black metal as you can get. A wall of distorted, static guitars and blast beats, extremely low quality and a total lack of song structure. That is no fooling around black metal. I personally am not a fan of black metal. I am not sure how someone can enjoy five + minutes of nothing but tremolo picking and blast beats. I can't even give this album a two, because a lot of Ulver fans may not like this, since it is absolutely nothing like their other work. It is not like most others works a prog fan will come across. Only recommended if you are a fan of black metal.

One Star

*JJ runs into the forest shrieking*

Review by Guldbamsen
3 stars Back when I was a teen, living just on the outskirts of Copenhagen, I was never far away from the woods. They became my playing ground as well as being one of the greatest places to collect your speeding thoughts surrounding everything that is possible to cram inside a 15 year old boy´s head, who thinks that the world is a pretty big place - and fast becoming even bigger just through his pursuit of music.

The forest was often used as a place you could party, and many a Fridays we, my friends and schoolgirl sirens, would built enormous bonfires and play music all night long. At the time Prodigy and Oasis were big just about everywhere and seeing as we all had the hots for at least one of the attending girls, we´d let them hear "Firestarter" or maybe even "Wonderwall" - if you thought you were in there ;-) As night unfolded and we got more intoxicated by our mixed drinks with vodka-beer-pisang ambon-whiskey-orange juice-rum-thingy, we always seemed to end up putting this particular album on, not really thinking about the horrible consequences it would have on our love lives. Well who needs love at 15, when you have a dark brooding forest, Norwegian Black Metal and a giant fire that seems to lick the leaves off of the highest oak trees around you? We certainly didn´t that´s for sure... And the birds ran screaming into the night leaving only us blackbirds, as you can probably guess.

For the prog community I´d strongly recommend you try Kveldssanger from 1995 first or even the two last releases, before you start exploring this utterly black and bleak record. The music is black metal with it´s coarse sounding evil voice and great big melodious riffing that in time will melt together as dense storm clouds of sound with the vocals being the shattering lightning occasionally breaking through the thicket. From time to time we get small doses of the Norwegian folk flavor that flavored their 2 first outings and made them stand out from the large masses of newly formed black metal bands back in those days. This is a return to traditional black metal, and as Umur says in his review, you can really hear how they intentionally worsened the sound during production - bringing with it a very whispering thin coating of just bad recording technique, but hey that was on purpose and if you talk to anybody who listened to Ulver, Burzum or say Darkthrone back then, they´d say that it sounded the way it should and damn-right evil to boot.

I am not 15 anymore, but I have strong emotions surrounding this very release - and every time i put the album on, I picture myself climbing the highest trees in the woods, screaming my lungs out - howling lycanthrobically at the white moon, jumping through bonfires with a careless look in my eyes thinking never ever will the day come, when the world around me turns me into a grown up and make me forget the beauty of night and the smell of wood fire and sweat on my clothes. It never did.

Review by Warthur
4 stars The ambient transitions between songs and the acoustic break in the middle of the opening track prove that Ulver hadn't completely lost all ability to handle a recording studio for Nattens Madrigal - the absolutely dire sound quality on the black metal which takes up the bulk of this piece is 100% on purpose. On this album, Ulver take the lo-fi aesthetic which in moderation can add an interesting aesthetic effect to black metal and takes it to a ludicrous extreme, more so even than the likes of Burzum or Darkthrone who infamously went out of their way to reduce the sound quality of their albums in order to attain the atmosphere they wanted. The end result is an album which, if you aren't in the right mood for it, is an outright chore to listen to.

And yet...

There's a strange transformation which comes over the music when the sound quality is this bad. The instruments - particularly some of the higher-pitched guitar solos - often cease to sound like conventional rock band instruments at all and become more reminiscent of out-of-control industrial machinery or shrieking electronics. The vocals from Garm are so full of anger that they often sound as though he is fighting to get them out, like if he didn't give his all he would be completely lost in the mix. The rhythms and repetitive patterns which make themselves apparent in the music are powerful and hypnotic, and save the piece from being mere noise for noise's sake like, say, Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music. And the ambient interludes between songs provide a brief and haunting counterpoint to the full-on ugliness on show here. And the songs are in fact much more varied than they have been made out to be - the intro to Of Wolf and Passion suggests a sort of romantic power black metal, which is a combination I'd never thought I'd here.

After this, Ulver would turn away from black metal for good, but this last album is a challenging but I feel unique aesthetic contribution to the genre, and is certainly the best example I can think of of an album where a deliberate lo-fi recording style leads to a distinctive and individual aesthetic which simply could never have been captured in any other way - an aesthetic which is perfect for the album's concept, the saga of a man turned into a werewolf and who eventually embraces the wolf within him due to the misdeeds and cruelty of humanity. Ulver would leave black metal behind after this release to explore other musical avenues, but to those who have already sampled and enjoyed Ulver's work - particularly Bergtatt, their debut - I recommend it as perhaps one of the most intriguing experiments in extreme metal. That said, you'd be well-advised to manage your expectations accordingly; if you simply don't like lo-fi black metal you're not going to enjoy yourself here.

Review by Necrotica
5 stars Rarely has album artwork evoked as much appropriate imagery as the wolf-adorned picture accompanying Ulver's Nattens Madrigal does. Alone and presumably howling to the moon that lies in the background, the wolf provides ample insight to the dark and bleak nature of what its album contains in songwriting and lyricism... and indeed this experience is bleak. Vocalist Garm has stated that Nattens Madrigal was intended as a backlash to all of the record labels that tried to bring black metal to a wider audience and polish it, which Ulver perceived as effectively ending the genre in terms of aesthetics and purpose. So, seeing as Ulver were a black metal (and folk) band up to this point, everybody was expecting another album like the intense-yet-accessible Bergtatt. And what did we all get instead? One of the most distorted and raw black metal albums ever recorded and released.

Seriously, let that sink in for a moment. In a genre like black metal, which prides itself on being "kvlt" and having horrible production values in the name of underground metal, THIS is one of the most underproduced and raw albums in the entire genre. Right off the bat, you can imagine that it isn't for the faint of heart and certainly not built for any mainstream appeal... but that's the whole point and the charm of this experience. The guitars rip through the ears like buzz saws, the vocals are uncompromisingly piercing shrieks, the drumming is thin and nimble, and the bass is virtually nonexistent; then we get the songwriting, which is simultaneously repetitive and hypnotic. There's only one real moment that gives listeners room for breathing, which is a gorgeous acoustic folk portion in "Hymn I." Aside from that, save for a few ambient outros, the whole album is a giant onslaught of shrieks and buzzing guitars. So what makes this record so appealing despite these elements? Well, for one, the guitar playing is still very beautiful despite the distortion. You get these very soothing melodies, half of which sound like they could have come from a folk record, and the harmonies Håvard and Torbjørn pull off are both melancholic and mesmerizing. Also, Nattens Madrigal features Garm's harsh vocals at their absolute best. There may not be any clean singing present anywhere, but his shrieks are instrumental in giving this record its chillingly cold atmosphere. It actually reminds me a lot of what Dani Filth's vocals bring to Cradle of Filth's Dusk... and Her Embrace; you can almost touch the depressive and haunting scenery the howling and screeching conjures up.

While it may not seem incredibly apparent at first, there's actually a lot of variety in Nattens Madrigal as well. Despite the overall looming darkness of the album, some songs actually feature the occasional moment of hope and peace. "Hymn VI" begins with a very beautiful guitar melody that highly contrasts many of the other songs by being in a major key for once, while much of "Hymn VII" carries a lighter tone to it. There are also some songs that have a more brutal sound to them despite the thin production, such as thicker and lower tremolo-picked riffing of fan favorite "Hymn III" and the extremely jarring and noisy introduction of "Hymn I," which could prove to be a huge shock to fans of more mainstream metal upon first listen. Also, there's one more thing that adds to this album's atmosphere and sound: the lyrics. It was a pretty wise decision to make the entire album in old Dano-Norwegian language, which only adds to the record's mystique and intrigue. When translated (to the best of people's abilities, at least), the lyrics fit the music perfectly with imagery of wolves, the darker aspects of man, and the overall night-related imagery you'd imagine with an album that sounds like this. From what I can gather, the concept of the record is that of a man who becomes a wolf by succumbing to the evil in and around him. The lyrics really make for some good reading on their own, and are immeasurably effective on Nattens Madrigal.

The whole experience is just sublime. The mixture of brutality, beauty, songwriting quality, lyrical mastery, and everything else is almost enough to make one cry at how perfect it is. But in the end, that's only for the ones who can really handle the rawness of this album and be dedicated enough to delve deeper into what lies beneath the intensity. It's obviously not for everyone and many will be turned off by the vocals and production (even certain black metal fans), but for those who stick with it, Nattens Madrigal provides amazing songwriting and an unmistakable vibe that make it one of the most rewarding metal albums of all time. It's cold, bleak, draining, emotional, hypnotic, and dripping with atmosphere with every song. This is the essence of black metal.

Review by Conor Fynes
4 stars 'Nattens Madrigal' - Ulver (82/100)

Has there ever been a band as wilfully eclectic as Ulver? The flux from black metal to folk to electronica to ambient to experimental rock to neoclassical and drone has been a crash course in a wild and provocative art, and they've almost always excelled in whatever they set their hearts to. What's less talked about is how varied they managed to be within those individual genres themselves. Take black metal, for instance. The debut Bergtatt introduced Ulver on a note of nature-based aesthetic black metal, replete with folk interludes and earthiness bands like Agalloch would take to heart in the following decade. The following year's Kveldssanger was a purely folk album-- a strange move for a metal band that had only just established themselves in one genre.

So what of Nattens Madrigal? It is Ulver's second black metal album following Bergtatt, yet bears very little resemblance in sound or atmosphere. If anything, the fact that two such different albums may be described with the same label isn't just a testament to Ulver's variety, but the variety and range of black metal itself. It's indeed as if they fashioned their second and third album to pick apart the two halves of Bergtatt, like a toddler who wants different foods of his meal on separate plates. Kveldssanger's pure folk melancholy is replaced by pure aggression and darkness, with only scant traces of conventional beauty to be found. Even the production sounds drab and grimy by comparison.

It's the weirdest thing to hear a band wilfully devolving themselves in a sense, and first impressions would have it seem like Nattens Madrigal is at a less developed, less adult stage than its mature predecessor. I think I might still think that to some extent, but continued listens have proven that Nattens Madrigal deserves every bit of praise it gets. Comparing it with Bergtatt is ultimately futile past a certain point. It is coming from a very different place, and means to take the listener to a very different destination.

I've been listening to Bergtatt a lot lately, and I am consistently amazed by how far they were able to push their unique sound on a debut. They were still basically kids, and managed to outdo a lot of the best work of their other Second Wave contemporaries. Such as it was, Bergtatt barely fit the current mould; clean vocals were a bigger part than growls or rasps. I get the feeling Nattens Madrigal was produced with the intent of proving to the world they could beat the rest of the Second Wave at their own game. That includes using the tropes we're all deathly familiar with: blastbeats, tremolo picking, evil snarls and liberal references to night and wolves and other spooky [&*!#]. Nattens Madrigal may be a more conventional listen, but I think it's actually more of a grower than Bergtatt. Whereas Bergtatt had great ideas an made the most of them, the riffs and jolted album flow makes Nattens Madrigal more of a slow burn than a lot of other conventionally kvlt black metal fare.

The atmosphere is ripe and frequently scary. I think that's because of the way Ulver incorporated latent experimental elements into the music. While no one should ever approach the album with an appetite for the avant-garde, the abrupt way Ulver starts and stops their ideas here is pretty chilling. The most underrated part of Nattens Madrigal is undoubtedly the ambient interludes, which are interspersed commonly throughout the record and do more to evoke a feeling than most Second Wavers' attempts at ambiance. It conjures a feeling of outer space (a la Darkspace) just as much as being alone in the woods, chased by wolves. Considering how well they were able to surprise and reinvent themselves with this album, I'm a bit disappointed Ulver didn't actually do more black metal. What new innovations could they have made in the genre, had they just stuck with it? Luckily, their decision to go electronic resulted in other masterworks like Perdition City and Shadows of the Sun, so I'm not complaining too much.

Review by siLLy puPPy
4 stars While ULVER (Norwegian for "wolves") has become synonymous with eclectic genre jumping between albums like virtually no other band in history of recorded music, in the beginning they at least attempted to create a series of albums in their "Black Metal Trilogie" which began with 1994's "Bergtatt - Et Eeventyr I 5 Capitler." However despite the supposed "black metal" part of the equation, even on their sophomore album, the wiley wolfy ones were pulling the old switcheroo by performing their second album in the metal- free zone of the dark Norwegian folk drenched "Kvelssanger." For their third album they make a reprise and finish out the trilogy by bringing the black metal back to the forefront and on NATTENS MADRIGAL - AATTE HYMNE TIL ULVEN I MANDEN (translated from Norwegian as "Madrigal Of The Night ? Eight Hymns To The Wolf In Man"), not only do they recapitulate the full fury of the debut but unleash the full fury of caustic black metal which races along like wolf pursued prey fleeing for its very life.

While the three albums are connected thematically, NATTENS MADRIGAL was the band's international debut and most likely the first taste of the Norwegian wolf pack by the majority of the planet. The third installment of the trilogy is a concept that revolves around tales of the dark side of humanity that uses metaphors in the form of wolves in the moonlit night as depicted by the cover art. The album was recorded immediately after "Bergtatt" with no specific timeline for release but as the band got signed by Century Media in the late 90s, vocalist Kristoffer Rygg who is credited as Garm states that the band wanted to unleash their most abrasive and venomous attempt on second wave black metal as their international debut not only as a guidepost for their involvement in the early scene but also as a final farewell before they moved out of the black metal scene entirely. There was also a little shock value involved to freak out their new label as well.

NATTENS MADRIGAL is a relentless beast despite calm surreal interludes that incorporate ambient, industrial and other pacifying sounds. While these sounds are plentiful, they merely punctuate the main compositions that exude an overall abrasive and caustic second wave metal attack with adrenaline fueled blastbeasts, searing buzzsaw guitar riffs and lo-fi production that banishes the bass into Hades. As typical for the day, the din is fortified with vile, angry raspy shouted vocals typical of Darkthrone, Mayhem, Marduk and other similar second wavers of the 90s Scandinavian black metal scene. While the lo-fi aspects of NATTENS MADRIGAL are quite similar to the majority of over-adrenalized 90s black metal, ULVER excels in composing tight melodic constructs which at times such as in "Hymn I: Of Wolf And Fear" breaks out of the super aggressive mode and converts into melodic classical guitar with modern production before descending into the lo-fi hellfire pits once again.

While on the surface NATTENS MADRIGAL seems like a typical 90s black metal release, however it is in fact an interesting closer in their "Black Metal Trilogie" as it eschews the atmospheric and folk touches that the debut "Bergtatt" utilized and opts for a more primeval raw and angry evil as [%*!#] sort of sound. While the fans of the day never could have predicted that after such an energetic and unrelenting display of black metal fury that constitutes the third and final installment of the trilogy, the clues as to where ULVER would take their next journey lay in the cracks between the caustic distortionfest. The ambient, industrial and psychedelic folk snippets between tracks would become the focus of the newer chapters of ULVER's ever-changing journey. While i can't say that i wish ULVER would have stuck to their black metal roots because so many other band's were jumping on the bandwagon, i also cannot say that i don't love the hell out of the early black metal albums that ULVER conjured up. On this one, they not only somehow managed to create beautiful melodies beneath the unbounded brutality but seeded the blueprint of their future musical adventures. NATTENS MADRIGAL is a satisfying adrenalized high octane 90s black metal release fortified with cool electronic embellishments.

Latest members reviews

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 a ... (read more)

Report this review (#2056168) | Posted by sgtpepper | Friday, November 16, 2018 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Ulver never fails to surprise. After that accoustic folk-rock album Kveldssanger, they return with a primitive black metal album. The sound is down the Darkthrone alley. What a contrast to Kveldssanger ! The music is pretty OK. I have to admit that I prefer Darkthrone or even Emperor to this ... (read more)

Report this review (#232283) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Tuesday, August 18, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars OK. Let just start by settling what i'm rating here. It is popular on this site to avoid the 5 star rating for non-prog albums, for obvious reasons. I don't like doing that, i am rating a black metal album in the 1-5 star scale, 4 meaning "excellent" (just putting the "...adittion to any prog collec ... (read more)

Report this review (#204966) | Posted by Revan | Tuesday, March 3, 2009 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This album is not for fans of later Ulver stuff. It's not like their other electronic albums, it's just primitive black metal with a very bad production (even by black metal standards). I'm not a fan of black metal, however, i've heard much worse. It is considered as a classic by fans of this ... (read more)

Report this review (#66642) | Posted by lordoflight | Wednesday, January 25, 2006 | Review Permanlink

3 stars It's about time someone reviewed this one. This album is seriously not recommended for anyone. Unless you're a fan of raw, primitive black metal with the worst production you'll ever hear. I happen to be such a person. Although the sound might seem terrible at first, underneath there's an amaz ... (read more)

Report this review (#60527) | Posted by | Friday, December 16, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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