ULVER - TNE MADRIGAL OF NIGHT - CENTURY BLACK
Issued under the Century Black banner, Ulver's completion of the three-part saga contains, "Eight hymns to the Wolf in man." A raw crushing bestiality lives in every ounce of this album that justifies this claim. Amidst the torrent of blazing guitars and a faint speeding drum, Ulver tints music with evil and cruelty to the point of excess. Experience garnered from a mixture of the last album heard here with wolf references (that being from Moon Spell) and a recent bout of weak and diluted Scandinavian releases had me wondering whether The Madrigal... would share the same qualities with its popish brethren. As things stand that is the furthest from the truth. Possessing a sound akin to a demo tape, I am glad to report that furthermore the band's music is similar to that of a demo tape too: crushing, heavy and original - as though unburdened by the pressures of money-hungry labels and major so-called metal magazines. Let me sum this up for you. Immortal fans would love this; Moonspell fans will be traumatized by this. - Ali "The Metallian"
ULVER - 1993-2003: 1ST DECADE IN THE MACHINES - JESTER/THE END
It has been ages since Ulver was a relevant band and this album simply confirms that notion. Ulver went from being a black metal band to an experimental band and there is plenty of that here. On this album a number of artists remix and rearrange Ulver songs. The vast majority of these track are either techno, industrial or just plain abstract. Whichever the case, heavy metal fanatics will find little of interest here. - Ali "The Metallian"
ULVER - BLOOD INSIDE - THE END
No one claims that the theme to Doctor Who is metal (and neither does The End Records regarding this album for that matter)! - Ali "The Metallian"
ULVER - SHADOWS OF THE SUN - JESTER/THE END
Like a lot of bands that emerged during the early '90s, Ulver’s career is squarely divided into two camps: metal, and music that is anything but. The transformation has been a difficult one not only for Ulver, but also its shape-shifting brethren (i.e. The Gathering, Anathema, Tiamat and many others). While these groups are intent on pursuing more sonically diverse pastures, they’re forever known as metal bands and, as we all know, metal can be a fickle place. Yes, metal has some of the planet’s most loyal fans, but it’s also got the planet’s most demanding fans, and if one is a strict adherent to Ulver’s black metal trio of albums, then the group’s post-metal work is probably going to be scorned and ignored by said listeners. And that’s sad, because it really doesn’t give the aforementioned bands any room to move into other territories nor does it allow them to count on their original fan base for support. I only mention all of this because I’m a big fan of Ulver’s black metal work but also its mellower material and, by supporting both eras, I get the distinct feeling that I’m part of the minority. Ulver’s sublime minimalist Lyckantropen Themes (2002) is in my top 10 desert island albums, and Garm’s morose visions appeal to me on several different levels. Thus, if you’re on board with latter-day Ulver, then you surely will not be disappointed by Shadows Of The Sun. Though not the minimal electro of Lykantropen Themes nor the contemporary classical of A Quick Fix Of Melancholy, Shadows Of The Sun occupies a strange zone that is part The Division Bell-era Pink Floyd, but also divisions of many other sorts of sombre insomniums. Ulver has always been all its own, and Shadows Of The Sun is no exception: despite that Pink Floyd mention, Shadows Of The Sun really references no one in its dark ways, and the record is pure melancholy and emotional drive. This is an excellent album, one that you either admire for its genuine vulnerability or hate because it’s not Nattens Madrigal which, really, is too bad. I can’t get over how real and despondent this album is; Ulver has crafted a dark centrepiece that relies on truth as its formula rather than any sort of melodrama or bombast. Though these tracks are low key, they’re not soft: they’re subtle, but just as piercing and effective as the second wave of black metal with which Ulver came to prominence. And, man, what can you say about Shadows Of The Sun’s cover art? It’s the cover of the year, no doubt. - David Perri