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ULVER

Post Rock/Math rock • Norway


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Ulver picture
Ulver biography
ULVER are a Norwegian trio who started life as a black-metal band around 1993. 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.

See also:
-Arcturus
-Borknagar




Why this artist must be listed in www.progarchives.com :
Ulver's admission have been agreed by Prog Archives Collaborators.


Discography:
Vargnatt demo (1993)
Split EP with Mysticum (1994)
Bergtatt - Et Eeventyr i 5 Capitler (1995)
Kveldssanger (1996)
Nattens Madrigal - Aatte Hymne Til Ulven I Manden (1997)
The Trilogie - Three Journeyes through the Norwegian Netherworlde (1998)
Themes from William Blake's The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1998)
Metamorphosis EP (1999)
Perdition City (2000)
Silence Teaches You How To Sing EP(2001)
Silencing The Singing EP (2001)
Teachings In Silence EP Incl. both "Silence" EPs (2002)
Lyckantropen Themes (2002)
1993 - 2003 1st Decade In The Machines [Compilation] (2003)
A Quick Fix of Melancholy EP (2003)
Svidd Neger (2003)
Blood Inside (2005)

Ulver official website

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Buy ULVER Music


The Assassination of Julius CaesarThe Assassination of Julius Caesar
Import
House of Mythology 2017
Audio CD$11.20
$11.19 (used)
BergtattBergtatt
Import
Head Not Found N'way 2001
Audio CD$10.07
$10.02 (used)
AtgclvlsscapAtgclvlsscap
Import
Soulfood 2016
Audio CD$9.71
$12.51 (used)
Themes From William Blake's The Marriage of Heaven And HellThemes From William Blake's The Marriage of Heaven And Hell
Import
Jester Norway 2006
Audio CD$19.69
$19.98 (used)
KveldssangerKveldssanger
Import
Head Not Found 2001
Audio CD$9.27
$8.46 (used)
Perdition CityPerdition City
Import
Imports 2016
Vinyl$40.10
Blood InsideBlood Inside
The End Records 2005
Audio CD$3.50
$4.45 (used)
A Quick Fix of MelancholyA Quick Fix of Melancholy
EP
The End Records 2003
Audio CD$11.95 (used)
Shadows of the SunShadows of the Sun
Import
Jester Norway 2007
Audio CD$9.05
$3.99 (used)
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SUNN O)) & ULVER-TERRESTRIALS-JAPAN 2 MINI LP CD H40 USD $33.99 Buy It Now 2 days
DISSECTION The Somberlain / 1996 / MC CASSETTE , NECROPHOBIC, MAYHEM, ULVER USD $42.99 Buy It Now 3 days
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Ulver Silencing the Singing CD 2003 Jester Records USD $19.99 Buy It Now 3 days
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New Music Record Sunn O))) & Ulver "Terrestrials" LP USD $25.32 Buy It Now 3 days
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More places to buy ULVER music online Buy ULVER & Prog Rock Digital Music online:
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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)

4.00 | 135 ratings
Bergtatt - Et Eeventyr I 5 Capitler
1994
3.58 | 91 ratings
Kveldssanger
1996
3.03 | 88 ratings
Nattens Madrigal - Aatte Hymne Til Ulven I Manden
1997
3.91 | 99 ratings
Themes From William Blake's The Marriage Of Heaven And Hell
1998
3.92 | 176 ratings
Perdition City - Music To An Interior Film
2000
3.78 | 60 ratings
Lyckantropen Themes (OST)
2002
3.26 | 56 ratings
Svidd Neger (OST)
2003
3.84 | 149 ratings
Blood Inside
2005
4.03 | 227 ratings
Shadows Of The Sun
2007
3.82 | 145 ratings
Wars Of The Roses
2011
3.21 | 64 ratings
Childhood's End - Lost & Found From The Age Of Aquarius
2012
4.08 | 121 ratings
Ulver & Tromsø Chamber Orchestra: Messe I.X - VI.X
2013
3.49 | 37 ratings
Ulver & Sunn O))) : Terrestrials
2014
2.67 | 3 ratings
Riverhead (OST)
2016
4.00 | 23 ratings
The Assassination of Julius Caesar
2017

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

3.44 | 9 ratings
Live at Roadburn
2013
4.27 | 11 ratings
The Norwegian National Opera
2013
3.84 | 31 ratings
ATGCLVLSSCAP
2016

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

4.38 | 31 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
3.83 | 29 ratings
Teachings in Silence
2002
2.80 | 5 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)

2.09 | 18 ratings
Vargnatt
1993
2.00 | 3 ratings
Rehearsal 1993
1993
2.43 | 23 ratings
Metamorphosis
1999
3.09 | 20 ratings
Silence Teaches You How to Sing
2001
3.19 | 19 ratings
Silencing the Singing
2001
3.80 | 35 ratings
A Quick Fix Of Melancholy EP
2003
2.33 | 3 ratings
Roadburn EP
2012

ULVER Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Assassination of Julius Caesar by ULVER album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.00 | 23 ratings

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The Assassination of Julius Caesar
Ulver Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

5 stars You'd think that by this point in their career, after all the twists and turns they've taken us down, the prospect of Ulver trying out a radically different genre from their former work would be utterly unsurprising - I mean, this is the same band which bounced from kvlt black metal to dark folk across their first two albums, after all.

And yet, somehow The Assassination of Julius Caesar manages to be another whiplash-inducing swerve from Ulver, shifting into the realm of honest-to-goodness synthpop. The secret to it, which makes it perhaps my favourite Ulver release ever, is that this is a style of gothy synthpop which feels distinctly Ulver, particularly in terms of their electronic and ambient works of their post-metal era.

After all, Dressed In Black on Blood Inside verged on the electro-gothic, so this isn't an evolution entirely without precedent, and whilst 80s nostalgia synthwave stuff is in vogue at the time, Ulver are able to artfully defy expectations by making the most 80s-tastic cut on here a tribute to 1969. Moreover, just because they've gone synthpop doesn't mean they've gone simplistic with it; there's complex, ornate passages here which reveal hidden depths to their sound, and I'd urge anyone turned off by the synthpop approach to at least give cuts like Rolling Stone or Coming Home a chance before writing off this album out of hand.

Is this what we wanted or expected from the next Ulver album? Almost certainly not, but by this point we'd be fools to expect Ulver to do what we want or expect - better to simply let them do their thing, and celebrate it when that results in creative masterstrokes like this.

 The Assassination of Julius Caesar by ULVER album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.00 | 23 ratings

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The Assassination of Julius Caesar
Ulver Post Rock/Math rock

Review by aapatsos
Special Collaborator Prog Metal and Heavy Prog Teams

3 stars ''Poor little sister, I hope you understand, the babe in the woods will be taken by a wolf''. And the wolf has spoken. ''Legends fail and houses fall'' but the wolf seems to be changing skin with every new release, like a ''Rolling Stone''. ''In the year of the Lord'' 2017 the wolf has decided to go pop, 80's synth and new-wave. Julius Caesar is assassinated, ''Nero lights up the night'' and ''tragedies repeat themselves in perfect circle'' throughout this sinister lyrical narrative.

Haunted, gothic, electronica, gospel (!) and trip-hop dances around the fire with a dose of 90's Tiamat and Dead Can Dance mashed with 80's Depeche Mode the Sisters of Mercy - nothing ''St. Teresa of Avila'' could do about such an assault of experimentation. This time the wolf abandons instrumentals and decides to sing extensively blending their voice in the hypnotic ambience of the album. Despite the dip in excitement in the last two tracks and the overall simplistic nature of the compositions which affects the lasting impression, Ulver will satisfy their ever-hungry-for-experimentation audience and add another stone to their hall-of-fame tower in progressive music.

Most murderous tunes: Rolling Stone, Angelus Novus, Transverberation

3.5 stars

 ATGCLVLSSCAP by ULVER album cover Live, 2016
3.84 | 31 ratings

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ATGCLVLSSCAP
Ulver Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 4.5 stars. ULVER are a band who can't seem to sit still, they need to change the style of music they play on a regular basis. The title "ATGCLVLSSCAP" is an acronym for all of the astrological signs in order apparently. I didn't know that Daniel O'Sullivan from GUAPO was part of this band. Actually he and ULVER's electronic expert Kristoffer Rygg and SUNN O)))'s Stephan O'Malley have been part of band called AETHENOR for many years. Rygg was quoted as saying this about ULVER performing live, "It took us 15 years to muster the will and want to interact with society, that is to perform live...". So I can just imagine how nervous they all were when they did the series of live shows in Norway that this album was culled from. Nervous because it was sort of an experiment by the band to play these shows by playing improvised music. The music here is dark and features lots of electronics and a fair amount of droning. Experimental is the word and the band I thought of the most when listening to this was SWANS.

"England's Hidden" opens with church bells and this will go on for a long time until joined by sparse sounds before 1 1/2 minutes. These sparse sounds will eventually take over. This sounds like orchestral drones, maybe electronics. It sounds like mellotron after 6 minutes and it sounds amazing! It blends into "Glammer Hammer" where it changes quickly into more of an instrumental "rock" mode with drums, guitar keyboards and more. It calms down before 2 1/2 minutes but then this powerful sound drops like a bomb before 3 minutes. Some great percussion work here as these powerful outbursts come and go until they stay almost to the end. "Moody Stix" is percussion galore not so surprisingly considering the song's title. It's an interesting tune with other intricate sounds that help out, but percussion dominates.

"Cromagnosis" features experimental sounds that build while the guitar and other sounds come and go. This is pretty cool. It turns louder with drums around 2 minutes, man this is good. It's very repetitive but I love this stuff. A change after 6 minutes as it picks up in tempo and becomes catchy. "The Spirits That Lend Strength Are Invisible" because they are spirits? Sorry, couldn't help myself. Sounds echo and there's lots of atmosphere and it's somewhat haunting. An adventerous track that is really out there". Also a great headphone track as most of these are. "Om Hanumate Namah" is also haunting and experimental. It sounds like electronics but it's hard to tell. We start to get a guitar melody over top before 2 minutes then it kicks into gear with drums and more as the guitar continues. Some vocal expressions too. These guys have some really good ideas.

"Desert/ Dawn" is dark with nature sounds like frogs etc. These high pitched sounds come in almost squeaking as a beat follows then experimental sounds as it builds. So good! The organ starts to drone at around 4 1/2 minutes and eventually the droning starts to over-power everything else. It's incredible the way they change things up ever so slightly while keeping the same theme. "D-Day Drone" is exotic and full of atmosphere to start as yes it starts to drone. Suddenly after 5 1/2 minutes it feels like danger is near, a dread is about to fall on us. Then a sampled voice can be heard before 7 minutes and it will continue until after 8 minutes.

"Gold Beach" again has lots of atmosphere that seems to hover and slowly pulse. The organ shines here creating atmosphere. "Nowhere(Sweet Sixteen)" is a re-working of their "Nowhere/ Catastrophe" song from their "Perdition City" album. This is the first true vocal track where the vocals are the focus as we get a beat with electronics. I really like the chorus where he sings slowly with his deep voice "Catastrophe" repeatedly. "Ecclesiastes(A Vernal Catnap)" opens with the atmosphere rolling in as deep spoken words arrive then piano. Another headphone track. The book of Ecclesiastes starts to get quoted in the singing after 3 1/2 minutes. Powerful stuff. "Solaris" ends it but I thought the previous track would have been the perfect closer. Sounds drone and it sounds like strings as well and they do get aggressive or maybe it's just sped up.

If you like your music dark and experimental like SWANS you should really check this out. Man this took a lot of listens before I started to really get into this. Another fantastic album from Norway.

 Kveldssanger by ULVER album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.58 | 91 ratings

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Kveldssanger
Ulver Post Rock/Math rock

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

4 stars ULVER (Norwegian for "Wolves") showed themselves to be a restless pack quickly wandering into completely new territory, raising their legs, marking it and making it their own. This nomadic seeker of new sounds were already changing things up on their second album KVELDSSANGER ("Twilight Songs") by completely dropping the black metal aspects on their debut album and went full on dark Nowegian folk with emphasis on acoustic guitar, choral chanting accompanied by flutes, cello and occasional percussion. Technically the second part of the "Black Metal Trilogie," someone forgot to tell them that the metal parts apparently didn't make it into the final mix. While the folk music on this album was part of the debut, the absence of metal gives it a much mellower and laid back feel almost feeling like this could be some revivalist Renaissance music of sort.

Vocalist and founder Kristoffer Rygg admits this was an attempt to create a full-on classical piece and wasn't satisfied with the outcome but for what technical prowess this album doesn't exhibit, it more than makes up for it in atmospheric and meditative passages that find the vocal styles in perfect harmony with the classical acoustic guitar riffs and accompanying instruments. In fact, it sounds as if it was created by monks in a far away monastery evoking the sacred sounds of an era long passed with only the subtle orchestrations giving it away that it is a product of the modern era.

While the distortion of metal is nowhere to be found here, this classical imbued folk music still resinates on the darker side of things as if it is indeed the soundtrack for a pack of hungry wolves undercover of the night stalking their next victims deep in the forest under the full moon in the frigid Scandinavian winter. ULVER would once again enter black metal territory to finish out the trilogy but it should have been an obvious prognostication that this band had a hard time settling in one musical genre when after all didn't even put the black metal in the middle chapter of the "Black Metal Trilogie."

 ATGCLVLSSCAP by ULVER album cover Live, 2016
3.84 | 31 ratings

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ATGCLVLSSCAP
Ulver Post Rock/Math rock

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Jazz-Rock / Fusion / Canterbury Team

4 stars Have I mentioned before that I LOVE ULVER! I love the creative, adventuresome, unpredictable, ever-evolving spirit that is this band. To me, this is an essential feature of the most creative bands/artists'the willingness and drive to constantly try new things, the curiosity and fearlessness to experiment with new media and new styles and new techniques. I don't know if it's driven by a desire to grow, by insatiable curiosity, by envy and respect of other musical styles, or the mental discipline to always try to test oneself, but Ulver seem to constantly reinvent themselves. (Which is one of the reasons that Ulver should be the poster-child for the campaign to get ProgArchves to let go of the system of categorizing a band/artist into one and only one sub-genre'forever and ever'based upon a one-time decision-making process.) While many reviewers of this album are citing a turn in direction toward a German Kosmische Musik influence coming through on this one, I would go a bit further and urge people to consider the influence of the entire career of Holger Czukay'soundscapes and radio sampling being the special focus. Garm and mates must be huge fans. The life-work of ambient music pioneer Brian Eno is also heavily drawn upon here, no doubt.

1. 'England's Hidden' (7:39) opens with sample recordings of church/cathedral bells ringing (how Brian Eno!) over which an odd glockenspiel arpeggio and some Beatles-esque dissonant string orchestra chords are sustained into slow crescendo. As the strings take the fore and begin playing in real chord sequences, the bells and glock fade away. I am strongly reminded of Eno's Discreet Music album as well as some of the Fairlight CMI work Peter Gabriel incorporated into his 1982 eponymously titled album (also called 'Security'). Truly an awesome, stunning, masterful song. (10/10)

2. 'Glammer Hammer' (4:49) opens as a bleed over from the previous song before taking on a kind of X-Files theme played by U2 and THE CURE. Cool, awesome, moving song. The break at the 2:15 mark is so creepy as they engineer the tunings of the sounds/instruments before entering into a heavier rock phase of the song'one that is very familiar to those of us who have heard a lot of Ulver's discography. Awesome song with some awesome drumming and a great build up to the contrasting pastoral ending. (10/10)

3. 'Moody Stix' (6:44) has a kind of Asian feel and sound to it, with many percussives, tuned and untuned, contributing to the mix in the first minute. The arrival of electric guitar power chords, deep heavy bass, and heavily treated psycho-babble from the lead guitar cannot quite offset the kind of circus atmosphere created by the percussives and drum kit'the later of which become more dominant as the song progresses to its end. This could be a great contribution to a soundtrack to a film scene. (8/10)

4. 'Cromagnosis' (9:48) is a two-part, two-tempoed song, the first very psychelic yet engaging in a lilting Kosmiche kind of way, the second more like a driving WHO or MOTORPSYCHO song. It is great. It all works'bongos and all. (9/10)

5. 'The Spirits that Lend Strength Are Invisible' (3:16) bleeds over from 'Cromgnosis' like an interlude the band need to tune instruments and reconfigure keyboard and computer programs. About 1:40 in some heavily treated percussives and then a little later some pitch-modulated synth sounds play over the base-line mix. Very EnoAmbient, Apollo era-esque. (8/10)

6. 'Om Hanumate Namah' (7:42) is pure Kosmiche Musik complete with awesome chanting, Edge Evans guitar style, and some great drumming a la Vespero. Awesome and enthralling! (10/10)

7. 'Desert/Dawn' (8:34) is dominated by the immense palette of a church organ though simple bass, drum and multiple synths play their weave over the top in a Math Rock kind of way. (8/10)

8. 'D-Day Drone' (9:21) has an apocalyptic Shadows of the Sun-like feel to it with multiple synth washes and tympanic-bass laying solid foundation of doom and ominosity for a Holger Czukay-like radio sample of some traditional Persian-like instrument played over the top by a synthesizer. During the second half the organ takes over as provider of base/background while radio voice samples take over for the lead instrument. (9/10)

9. 'Gold Beach' (4:52) continues the theme of peaceful organ-play over which radio samples are slipped in and out. Don't know why, but this song really gets me. So cool, so relaxing. In a David Sylvian kind of way. Awesome chord progressions used by the organ. (10/10)

10. 'Nowhere (Sweet Sixteen)' (5:56) is a more 'normal' song in that it has an ABACAB structure and traditional four-piece rock band lineup. I find the song most interesting for reminding me how much I like the vocal talents of bandleader Kristoffer Rygg. (How does he hold that note for so long in the fifth minute?) More Post Rock in the ANATHEMA-style'though I really like the way the drums are recorded. (8/10)

11. 'Ecclesiastes (A Vernal Catnap)' (9:01) is a treated piano and heavily synthed background over which someone is reading for the first 3:30 in what I presume to be Norwegian while in the second half Garm sings the English version of the New Testament's famous verses from Ecclesiastes, Chapter 3, verses 1-8. Over bongos. Kind of cool but unnecessary (though I love the parenthetical title). (8/10)

12. 'Solaris' (2:12) is a very odd and edgy ambient piece with a strings-synth chord sequence and female operatic singing providing the background within which a heavily oscillated volume controlled instrument (or instruments?) of undetermined name (drums?) weaves its railroad-like melody into the mix. Fascinating in a Baroque music listening quiz kind of way. (9/10)

I have to agree with several of the reviewers who have already made their judgement over this album that it is one of the best Ulver albums I've ever heard'certainly one of the most interesting and intriguing. Too early to know if this will be considered one of their masterpieces but we'll certainly know by next December.

4.5 stars, rated down, for now, for no good reason that I can think of . . . .

 The Trilogie: Three Journeyes Through The Norwegian Netherworlde by ULVER album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1997
3.91 | 2 ratings

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The Trilogie: Three Journeyes Through The Norwegian Netherworlde
Ulver Post Rock/Math rock

Review by CassandraLeo

4 stars A picture disc repackaging of Ulver's early black metal and folk material, The Trilogie is the first of several reissues this material would get. The packaging is beautiful, as expected, but it suffers from the usual subpar audio quality of picture discs with excessive crackles and pops, and the material has not been remastered for this release. For Bergtatt and Kveldssanger the lack of remastering is not a problem, but Nattens madrigal remains the unrelenting wall of noise it was on every pre-Trolsk sortmetall reissue of the album, which remains a problem even on vinyl. The material on this set is essential, so if you can afford the inflated second-hand prices this set goes for and you find them worth paying for the packaging, it's worth picking up, but there are better ways to acquire this material. (I'd most highly recommend the vinyl version of Trolsk sortmetall).
 Trolsk Sortmetall 1993-1997 by ULVER album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2014
4.60 | 6 ratings

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Trolsk Sortmetall 1993-1997
Ulver Post Rock/Math rock

Review by CassandraLeo

5 stars Ulver's early black metal and folk work gets yet another repackaging here. However, it proves to be utterly necessary, since of the many times this material has been repackaged, most of it has never sounded this good. It's rather unfortunate that the remaster of Bergtatt succumbs to the general tendency of modern remasters to make the album louder than it was originally, but the box set makes up for this with the remaster of Nattens madrigal, which has never sounded better. Nattens will always be a lo-fi album, but this time around it actually has a reasonable level of dynamics rather than being an solid wall of noise, and you can even hear the bass on this version.

If you haven't heard the material on this box set yet, it's among the most essential recordings of the Norwegian second wave of black metal. Vargnatt is a fairly typical black metal demo (the instrumental acoustic interlude provided a hint of the band's adventurous spirit, but otherwise it could be considered fairly typical of the genre if you accept its penchant for odd melodies and strange arrangements), but on Bergtatt they emerged as if fully formed from the head of Athena. With the possible exceptions of Enslaved and later Emperor, the album is as progressive as second-wave black metal gets, with liberal amounts of folk interludes and clean singing and even the occasional delve into the avant-garde. The average song length is about seven minutes on this album, which gives you an idea what you're in for. The fact that the band members were mere teenagers when they recorded this is almost impossible to believe, and many listeners still consider it to be Ulver's finest work (although as they have a large and varied discography with many strong releases, this opinion is nowhere near universally shared).

Famously, the band did a complete left-turn with their second album, Kveldssanger, which is an entirely acoustic neofolk album with almost exclusively clean singing. The band later criticised their own performances as "immature", but I don't hear it. The album is simply a beautiful collection of elegantly performed folk tunes that is likely to appeal to nearly any listener, regardless of their opinion of metal music; it is a superb and influential recording that remains a landmark of its genre. The album in its presentation here is given the rare bonus track "Synen" from the same era (which was previously only available on the hard-to-find multi-artist collections Whom the Moon a Nightsong Sings and Souvenirs from Hell), which is performed in a similar style to the rest of the album and makes a wonderful addition to this collection.

Nattens madrigal is the final full-length album in this set (which also includes rehearsal versions of four of this album's tracks), and is pretty clearly the band's attempt to outdo their Norwegian contemporaries at their own game. Various writers have noted that for their second and third album it's as if they siphoned the two elements of Bergtatt off into individual albums; Kveldssanger contains the acoustic folk passages while Nattens madrigal represents the furious black metal. It sounds like an unrelenting wall of noise on first listen even with the remaster, but repeated listening will reveal a surprising amount of melodicism under the surface. Some of these songs, with different arrangements, could almost qualify as pop songs, and indeed at one point the band planned an orchestral re-recording of the album (although it apparently has been abandoned). The ambient interludes on this one are also a highlight, and do quite a lot to help evoke the mood of terror the band were obviously going for. The prog influence on this one is subtle, but it shows up occasionally.

After this point, Ulver would abandon black metal entirely, becoming musical chameleons on the level of the late David Bowie. Their next album would be industrial and progressive metal, then they would experiment with various forms of electronic music before recording dark ambient, post-rock, psychedelic rock, and many other styles. Still, the material on this box set should not be overlooked, and this is probably the best way to acquire it, especially if you can track down a copy of the vinyl box set. Strongly recommended, and fully deserving of a full five-star rating.

 Nattens Madrigal - Aatte Hymne Til Ulven I Manden by ULVER album cover Studio Album, 1997
3.03 | 88 ratings

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

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

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.

 Shadows Of The Sun by ULVER album cover Studio Album, 2007
4.03 | 227 ratings

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Shadows Of The Sun
Ulver Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Necrotica
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The album cover for Shadows of the Sun might have come from a picture in Natural History Magazine, but I can't think of a more fitting image to represent such a melancholic piece of art. Since abandoning their black metal roots, Ulver have created a great deal of forward-thinking electronic and ambient music that completely contradicts the first phase of their career (sans Kveldssenger) by abandoning metal altogether. However, one thing has never changed: Ulver's music is [%*!#]ing dark. No matter what genre they attempt with each passing release, the bleak atmosphere of their work is always something that sticks out, much like Agalloch or Corrupted. However, Shadows of the Sun managed to go the extra mile, particularly by stripping down their sound from the bombast and general loudness that pervaded much of Blood Inside. In fact, this was the first record by the band since Kveldssenger to be so low-key and somber... and it worked beautifully.

One of Ulver's greatest strengths is that they truly know how to create a musical setting and mood, and Shadows of the Sun may be the best example of this. A bevy of instruments come together to enhance the album's variety, such as a trumpet, theremin, cellos, violins/violas, and various guitars; however, it all comes together with the powerful vocals of frontman Garm. It's hard to believe that this guy once performed primarily with black metal shrieks (mainly with Nattens Madrigal), because his somber vocal work here is simply incredible to experience. The way his performances lift songs such as the title track and the Black Sabbath cover "Solitude" is worth the price of admission alone, but the highlights of his vocals come with the layered harmonies he brings to certain tracks. "Eos," which is already a superb song because of its subtle variation and use of minimalism, features some of the best vocal harmonies in modern music. Garm said he was influenced by the harmonies of The Beach Boys for much of his singing on the record, and it's interesting to hear him create such dark soundscapes from the aspects of an often cheery band.

Beyond this, what I love about Shadows of the Sun is how scaled back everything is. It seems as though the members were incredibly selective about the instruments used here, especially regarding the limited percussion. In fact, songs such as "Eos" and "Like Music" have no drumming or electronic beats whatsoever; they are only propelled by piano, strings, synthesizers, and such. The songs that do have percussion, like the title track and especially "All the Love," create busy drum work around repetitive and droning rhythms to convey a lot of variety beneath the soft dynamics. The entire record truly feels like a cohesive experience, but the clean and warm production ensures that the album is best heard through headphones; in fact, despite how bleak and depressing the whole thing is, the music is surprisingly warm and comforting at the same time. Perhaps it's because of Garm's soothing vocal melodies or the uniquely tangible tone of the piano, but I feel as though the production is still the biggest reason. Every instrument feels as though it's enveloping you in each distinct atmosphere, and there's almost a vintage ambience to it all. In the end, however, what cements Shadows of the Sun as one of Ulver's best albums is its consistency. The record knows what it is at all times; there aren't many surprises or weird frills, but for a record this dark and low-key, I'd say that's a good thing. The atmosphere is consistent, the ambient instrumentation is consistent, the vocal work is consistent, and yet every track has something different to offer. Want a more instrumentally-involved piece with percussion (albeit slow percussion)? "All the Love" and the title track. Want something more droning and minimalist? "Eos" and "Funebre." Want a lot more piano work? "Like Music," "Vigil," and "Solitude." When you get down to it, Shadows of the Sun is just an amazing piece of work. It's emotional, unique, beautiful, and well-composed. If you enjoy quiet and somber music, you owe it to yourself to buy this. Now.

(Originally published on Sputnikmusic)

 Kveldssanger by ULVER album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.58 | 91 ratings

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Kveldssanger
Ulver Post Rock/Math rock

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Already, with Ulver's 2nd album, it was apparent that this band was going to be full of surprises with each album. Many people lump Ulver's first 3 albums together saying that it was their black metal trilogy. To me, I don't think you can lump any of Ulver's albums together because each one is so different. Where the first album was black metal but with medieval style singing in many places throughout, this one is all acoustic with Gregorian type chanting in about half of the songs and just instrumental in the others. The third album in this so called trilogy is really noisy and heavy and also the least accessible of the three albums, but it is still quite different from anything else the band has done, even from the first album. But I won't go into detail about that album here since this is about the 2nd album.

Like I said, it is all acoustic and very peaceful, yet still dark and eerie sounding. The vocals do have some variance in them, but they all follow a chanting style and sound like a group of monks singing along with the beautiful guitar and occasional violin. There really isn't a lot of variety between the songs, but some of them are heartbreakingly beautiful. It would be hard to go through each track and break them down because every description would pretty much say about the same thing. But, strangely enough, this never gets boring because the arrangements are diverse enough to keep one's interest, and the album only lasts 35 minutes, so it doesn't really wear out it's welcome. Most of the tracks stay quite short, with only 3 going over 3 minutes (just barely except for the last track which goes for 6 minutes).

These are mostly quite lovely tunes if you don't mind the chanting part. My wife tells me that I must be going Catholic when I listen to this, so that gives you an idea of how authentic it sounds. But it is still quite an enjoyable album, and if you are listening to the discography in order, then it's a nice break between the two loud albums that come before and after this one. My preferred play list from these three albums would be to intersperse them sort of randomly to give it a little more variety.

So, it's pretty good and I can easily bump it up from 3.5 stars to round it off to 4. A little more variety would have been good, but may have sounded out of place, so there ya go.

By the way, lovers of folk music would probably enjoy this album too.

Thanks to tony r for the artist addition. and to E&O Team for the last updates

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