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Getting Into: Ulver (1993-2003)


Written by: RaduP
Published: 21.02.2021


(2004-2020)

There have been a fair share of cases of bands starting out as metal and leaving the genre. Some came back, some tried not to go too far from home, and some just lost their relevance and credibility. And then there's Ulver, whose chameleonic nature made them take the most radical of U-turns and constantly shapeshift their sound. Starting out as a black metal band, infusing it with folk, then shifting and blending post-industrial, avant-garde, electronica, trip-hop, neoclassical, dark ambient, drone, post-rock and synthpop. To the despair of many elitists, they never came back. But the mark they left of the metal world is massive.

What is surprising is how much staying power Ulver have had in the metal world despite moving on from it. Their metal albums are obviously celebrated, and there is no shortage of listeners for whom bridges were burned afterwards and for whom the band died around 1997, but also a huge amount of people who followed and appreciated their work through the decades up until today. Hence why I noticed that it's easier to find Ulver fans that are primarily metalheads than ones that are not.





It's no surprise that such a large, varied and contradictory discography would be prime for a Getting Into, the article series started by our own Baz Anderson, in which an artist's discography is explored in order to facilitate entry for the uninitiated (or just to start disagreements for the initiated). Tackling Ulver's discography is a pretty daunting task, especially since a huge chunk of it is in genres I'm less familiar with than the black metal in which they started. But it has been done.

The Main Records



1993 - Vargnatt


Our story starts in the autumn of 1993 with six songs supposedly recorded in the Norwegian forest. Naturally the quality of these songs, both compositionally and recording-quality-wise leaves something to be desired, but even in this infancy stage of the band, it was clear that Ulver were willing to do more than simply be black metal. Most of Vargnatt is indeed black metal, complete with dry shrieks, blast beats, guitars so distorted that you can't properly hear the actual melodies, and most importantly raw production. Further re-releases have made quite a difference on the production side, but there is some appeal in the rawness, even if too much for its own good. However I can't think of any black metal this early to use folk acoustic guitars and clean vocals to this extent. There is a full acoustic song (not just an intro/outro/interlude) in "Trollskogen", and the clean vocals mostly only chime in for one or two lines throughout the album being somewhat awkward, but they get the spotlight in "Nattens madrigal" where they go into an equally awkward operatic mode. Even the drumming feels quite original, courtesy of Czral of Ved Buens Ende and so many others. Most of the members, including Czral, would leave after this record and a split with Mysticum, one of them also having committed suicide at 19.




1995 - Bergtatt


Though Vargnatt showed some promise of Ulver not being a simple black metal band, that thoroughly materialized on Bergtatt, or Bergtatt - Et Eeventyr i 5 Capitler as its full name goes. It took the clean vocals and folk bits from Vargnatt, gave them more maturity and much larger presence, making Bergtatt sometimes feel more like a folk album than a black metal album, but a black metal album it still is. Echoes of this blend of raw second wave black metal and Scandinavic folk would reverberate from this point on, to the likes of Agalloch or Negură Bunget, who pretty much trace their lineage to this album. Both the folk and the black metal parts are done very convincingly, even if one can clearly feel their youth and lack of budget, but leaving the performances and production aside, the album excels in originality and songwriting. It's ability to go from soothing neofolk to berserking black metal, and to blend the raspy shrieks with the choral vocals, and to use the repetition in the drums and guitars to create a hypnotizing effect, and to make the bass a very dreamlike presence in the mix. From the very first drum fill, this album wastes no time from its brief 35 minute runtime in creating said dreamlike atmosphere, or perhaps dreamlike would not be the most fitting word, with this album being more fairytale-like, especially since the album title translates to "Taken into the Mountain - A Fairy Tale in 5 Chapters", and that is the feeling that it captures quite perfectly. The lyrics are an archaic version of Danish-Norwegian to properly drive the point home. There are some additional pianos (by Arcturus' Sverd, as well as some flutes and female vocals by Lili Stensrud, that further enhance the archaic and folkish atmosphere of the record. Though only Garm and Haavard remained from the lineup of the previous release, Bergtatt shaped up a lineup that would continue through their entire black metal phase.




1996 - Kveldssanger


Ulver were already among the first black metal bands to incorporate folk elements in their sound, but with 1996's Kveldssanger they also became the first (at least to my knowledge) black metal band to release a fully acoustic folk album. It takes the same archaic Danish-Norwegian of the previous album and pushes it further into fairy-like fork (since if you think of fairy music you're more likely to think of folk than black metal anyway). Though Ulver's lineup remained intact, this release only sees three of the five members participating, with most of the heavy lifting going to Haavard's guitar, but Garm's vocals were at their most gorgeous yet, especially with the multitracking giving it a monastic and almost angelic choral vibe. With a title that translates to "Twilight songs", the album is mostly instrumental, but despite its simplicity it manages to achieve a lot in its 35 minute runtime with its somber, contemplative and archaic feeling. Though cellos and flutes do sometimes accompany the guitar, it alone is more often than not responsible for maintaining the soothing and sorrowful atmosphere, and it proves Haavard's creativity in making such an engaging album with such a small palette. The seven minute closer "Ulvsblakk" is the one that feels most like its own complete song as opposed to another part of this album's tapestry. Overall, it's not only the first of Ulver's nonmetal albums this early in their career, but also one of the best medieval folk albums I've personally heard.





After Kveldssanger took out the black metal from Bergtatt, Nattens Madrigal (or Nattens Madrigal: Aatte hymne til ulven i manden) took out most of the folk from it and it decided that it was all too pretty so far and that black metal should be as raw, dark and noisy as possible. It still feels somewhat in line with the previous two records, with it being in the same archaic Danish-Norwegian language, and the concept of the album being fantastical and folkloric with its lycanthropic themes and stories of werewolves. The lineup of this album is the same as on Bergtatt, but here the band is more focused showing off the shrieks (definitely the best thing about this album) and piercing riffs that create a more suffocating atmosphere. The repetitive riffs and near-constant blasting are sometimes interrupted by ambient or acoustic folk interludes, but more often than not, it feels closer to something you'd hear in a Darkthrone album from around the same time. A lot of this album's appeal and sense of rawness came from the really raw production, which stories tell comes from the band wasting the production budget on drugs and cars. As much as I can appreciate some rawness and I do get the appeal, I think the album ends up suffering because of it, but the monotonous songwriting is still what keeps Nattens Madrigal from being as interesting as their other metal works. It seems that even at this point they were getting quite tired of black metal, especially with it beginning to get commercial success and the label trying to falsely promote this album as "recorded in the wilderness". Ulver would compile their three full lengths so far in a box set called The Trilogie: Three Journeyes Through the Norwegian Netherworlde before jumping ship, never to look back.





To be fair, this isn't Ulver's first departure from black metal, and since it still kept most of the lineup from the previous albums, with the exception of guitarist Aismal and the addition of electronic musician Tore Ylwizaker, there was still some way this could've been treated as a one-way departure. Actually, Themes has more metal elements than Kveldssanger, as sparse as they are through the post-industrial soundscapes. There are moments that feel like avant-garde or industrial metal sprinkled through, but for the most part it is a modern dark electronic album. Even as a concept it is a departure, instead of the folk tales in archaic Danish-Norwegian, Ulver adapt William Blake's religious Gnostic poem The Marriage Of Heaven And Hell, and whereas previously Ulver's albums would sit in the 30-45 minutes range, Themes is a whooping 80 minutes, if you take out those 20 minutes of silence from the last track. It is ambitious to say the least, a bit too much for its own good, often switching between tracks focusing on narration, ambient interlude ones, and rockier ones, but often feeling like it bit more than it could chew. Regardless, there is a lot of worthwhile material scattered through, even with Rygg (this time changing his nickname from Garm to Trickster G) using his clean vocals in a new context for the first time slightly awkwardly at times. The band being rooted in metal remains apparent especially on the last track, which features guest vocals from Emperor's Ihsahn and Samoth and Darkthrone's Fenriz. In a way, the most transitional record in Ulver's career, which makes it equally interesting and overlooked.



1999 - Metamorphosis


Metamorphosis is the moment when all bridges were burned, when the last traces of metal music from Ulver's sound were eradicated. It followed the dissolution of the lineup that the band had almost intact since 1994, with Rygg being from now on the only founding member still in the band (though Havard would perform some guitars on this and the following release), alongside sole other member Tore Ylwizaker, whose presence on this album is even greater than on the previous one. Taking some of the track naming conventions from the Nattens Madrigal and turning them into their most techno tracks definitely seems blasphemous to say the least, but perhaps even more blasphemous is having Rygg perform vocals on only one track. Said track, "Gnosis", is not only the best on the record and the only one I return to regularly, but it and the next track showcase the trip-hop direction that Ulver would take on the following record. Though it is a bold release in context, it only shows them taking some baby steps towards the new direction of their career, with sounds that they would either drop (techno) or refine thoroughly, as parts of this album were reworked in the following one. As it is, it's competent, but they've done much better electronica since.





Perdition City didn't come as a sudden surprise sound-wise, considering the Themes and Metamorphosis releases that came right before it. What is a surprise is just how much Ulver have managed to grow their electronic sound in such a short time. If the previous two releases were either too ambitious or felt like baby steps, Perdition City feels like what it was all leading to, especially since a lot of Metamorphosis was worked into Perdition City. Described as both "Music for an interior film" and "Music for the stations before and after sleep", there's a deep sense of atmosphere being created, almost like a futuristic film-noir soundtrack, which is even more fitting considering that Ulver would go on to work on a variety of soundtracks afterwards. If their early career had them evoking a fairly-like Scandinavian folklore, and then Gnosis poetry, Perdition City evokes exactly what it's title states: urban despair. A mix of trip-hop, darkjazz, avantgarde electronica and post-industrial create a landscape filled with neon lights, dark alleys, overcrowded traffic, and loneliness, like a cog in a dehumanizing consumerist machine. There's a lot of repetition going on here, further accentuating both the soundtrack-like feeling, but also the routine of the urban life, together with the amazing layering of electronics and live-instruments, the latter including bass, drums, saxophones, pianos and Haavard contributing some guitars as well. Trickster G.'s vocals are missing from a pretty long sequence of three instrumental songs in the middle of the album, but when they do appear, they bring a lot of that melancholic and cold emotion to the album, and are probably most "song-like" on the album's closer. However the instrumentals themselves do such a great job of merging the electronic and the organic and the building of layers in a pretty minimalistic way. I've seen this dismissed as "metalhead's first electronic album", and I can see where that is coming from, as a lot of this album's strengths have been done better by other artists, but Perdition City still feels pretty unique to me. And it still sounds fresh to this day.





I'm pulling a bit of a trick here, since this is a compilation of two EPs released in late 2001, Silence Teaches You How To Sing and Silencing The Singing, so it's pretty clear that these two are sibling releases, and I don't have any issue bundling them together. The first track, the 24-minute title and only track from the former EP, is Ulver's longest song (except the closer of Themes, which has about 20 minutes of actual silence so that doesn't count). The entire album continues the electronic sounds of previous releases, but goes far deeper into dark ambient and glitch territories. It feels like they were more interested in experimenting with these sounds and honing their skills rather than actually making a good record, hence why I don't find myself returning that often to it. The first track is the most glitch-based one, and each subsequent track feels like it adds some interesting instrument over the electronics, like the pianos in "Darling Didn't We Kill You", the violin in "Speak Dead Speaker", and the church bells and organs in "Not Saved". Overall, Ulver create some pretty unique soundscapes here, with "Not Saved"'s being my favorite, but the songs themselves are too slow-burning for their own good. This is also Jørn Henrik Sværen's first release as a member of the band, and also the last time that Kristoffer Rygg used an alias on an Ulver record.





This is the first Ulver record to not only feel like a soundtrack, but act like one. I admit that to properly review Ulver's soundtracks I should also watch the pieces that they're soundtracking, in order to properly assess how well they enhance/fit the atmosphere. Lyckantropen Themes is the soundtrack for for the short film Lyckantropen by Steve Ericsson, and it's probably no coincidence that a band named "Wolf" is soundtracking a movie called "Werewolf". The album itself is a minimalist ambient album, not really dark enough to be dark ambient, but certainly a very nocturnal and quiet mood that is dark in its own way. The band at this point had a much more solid grasp in using repetitive minimalism and subtle layering in a more effective way to keep the album from feeling dull. There is little variation between tracks, except for the last two tracks, where the darkness that has been building up for the duration of the record is boiling, leading to a more tense sound.





They weren't lying in the title: this is quick, being a 20 minute EP, and this is indeed pretty melancholic. This is around the time when, along with the Svidd Neger soundtrack, Ulver started integrating a lot of neo-classical sounds into their mix, combining with the glitchy ambiance of previous releases and the trip-hop of Perdition City, a blend that would foreshadow the sound of the next album as well, though in a more crude and minimalist fashion here. A lot of the music is based on sampled loops, with a lot of strings either looped ("Little Blue Bird", "Vowels") or accompanying the loops ("Doom Sticks"), and a lot of operatic vocals, either the more haunting ones on "Little Blue Bird" or the Steve Walker-esque "Vowels". The closing track "Eittlane" is a reworking of a track from Kveldssanger, that is remixed enough to make it fit on the melancholic electronic sound of the record, with an added folk sound along the neoclassical one. A Quick Fix Of Melancholy may feel too much like a bite-sized transition between Perdition City and Blood Inside, but it's definitely Ulver's best EP.




2003 - Svidd Neger


Following closely after Ulver's first soundtrack record came Svidd Neger, another soundtrack, this time to Erik Smith-Meyer's film of the same name. This one is even shorter (the album, ironically the movie itself is longer) than their previous soundtrack album, but it's much more dynamic in terms of orchestration and moods. It's still an ambient album, as soundtrack albums usually are, and it's not song-focused, with most of the tracks being very short, but despite that, a few of the in-between songs transitions feel a bit jagged. The entire experience feels a lot more urgent and suspenseful. There's a lot more string-heavy classical orchestration peeping in, mixed with Ulver's glitchy electronics. I guess in contrast to Lyckantropen Themes there are more individual stand-out moments, but the album as a whole suffers a bit more from being a soundtrack first and foremost in regards to tonal shifts and sudden transitions.





I'm technically cheating by putting this last even though it was released before the previous two entries, but it feels right to end the first 10 years run of Ulver's career with a release meant to do just that. This is a remix album, meaning that a bunch of artists take Ulver material and remix it, and you can find information about what each track used as foundation. The album even starts with Ulver remixing one of their own songs, with "Crack Bug" being a remix of "Nattens Madrigal" off the Vargnatt 1993 demo. The "remix album" is something that Rygg's other band, Arcturus, also attempted with Disguised Masters, and neither of them really worked that well, but what 1st Decade In The Machines has going for it is that the talent involved here is pretty massive, with folks like Stars Of The Lid, Fennesz, The Third Eye Foundation, Jaga Jazzist's Martin Horntveth, and closing with Merzbow. Even if the remix album itself will end up being more of a completionist affair, it should also serve as a springboard to exploring the careers of other electronic musicians for the less initiated but curious Ulver fans. The music here goes from IDM to dark ambient to noise, and none of it sounds like the original Ulver material. If I were to pick, expectedly, the Fennesz and Stars Of The Lid tracks are the most worthwhile of the bunch, but as a whole it's too much of a mixed bag to be worth more than a curious listen.




Where To Now



After ending the first decade of their career with a remix album, it would be obvious that that part of their sound was to stay, so for further exploration of it, I recommend digging deeper in the works of the artists involved, as well as their influences like Coil. Though Ulver's time as a black metal has been fairly short, it would end up being extremely influential for a lot of bands blending black metal with folk. And even if Norway's 90s scene is pretty well documented, there's enough of it that is Ulver adjacent and shares some members and some of the lineage of folk black metal. Compared to the second article in this series, this section finds us still completely inside the black metal scene, thus probably a lot closer to home for the readers.





Ulver's Garm has joined two other black metal bands in the mid 90s, one of them being Borknagar, that Øystein Garnes Brun formed after leaving Molested. Garm would perform vocals on the band's first two albums, the more straight-forward self-titled debut, and The Olden Domain. Though it still has a lot of the viking/melodic black metal roots from the first album, this is the album where the progressive tendencies, ones that would envelop Borknagar's sound, started appearing. There are some clear parallels to both Bergtatt and early Enslaved, which makes sense since Enslaved's Ivar Bjørnson is playing keyboards on this album, so there is some similarities in the beautiful and evocative soundscapes. Also worth noting is that Grim is the drummer. The blend of black metal and folk somehow makes it sound more melodic and uplifting than the grimer or more melancholic previous blends, but not in a way that makes it sound "weak" or cheesy. The guitar playing is incredibly dynamic here, partly thanks to the newfound progressive tendencies, but also a lot of the melodies and the layering work really well, even if the flow isn't always fantastic, and these would only improve on further Borknagar albums. Garm's vocals are in top shape both in terms of cleans and shrieks, with the cleans especially showcasing quite an impressive range. Garm would leave the band shortly after the release of the album, with ICS Vortex replacing him.





Ved Buens Ende has two members who were part of Ulver, bassist Skoll and drummer Czral, though ironically neither at the same time. Ved Buens Ende finds the two joined by guitarist Vicotnik (also of Dødheimsgard). The band started out under the name Manes, not to be confused with the other Manes, with whom they did actually release a split. With only the Those Who Caress The Pale demo and the Written In Waters album under their belt, Ved Buens Ende still managed to carve a legacy of being early progenitors of unorthodox black metal. Though the scene at the time was already moving away from pure metal by incorporating elements of folk, prog rock or classical music, Written In Waters goes pretty deep into post-rock/math rock in the vein of Slint, but with an angular atonal edge and use of polyrhythms that drives it into avant-garde territories. It probably feels more black metal now in retrospect when all of the elements it pioneered became a staple of third wave black metal, but at the time it must've felt completely alien. Vocals are clean more often than not, usually of a crooning type, complete with female vocals on one track (by the same person that performed them on Ulver's Bergtatt, with the harsh vocals feeling pretty weak by comparison, but still competent. The riffs are dissonant, but the bouncy bass and the amazing jazzy drumming are absolutely fantastic in creating this eerie dreamlike atmosphere. I'd almost say that the bass and drums have a bigger impact than the guitars, especially since a lot of the album spends time in free-flowing jams rather than a more direct black metal, but the interplay between every element shows some amazing chemistry. I really wonder where black metal would be without this album's existence.





Satyricon, like Darkthrone, have quite entered public consciousness as black metal duos, but it's easy to forget that both bands had multiple members early on. In Satyricon's case, one of them was Haavard (here under the Lemarchand alias), longtime Ulver guitarist. Though only officially a member for a short time, Haavard has performed guitars on three Satyricon releases: the All Evil and The Forest Is My Throne demos, and Dark Medieval Times. It's hard to pinpoint how much of the guitar play belongs to Haavard and how much to Satyr, especially since the former is uncredited, which is a shame because the guitar playing here is pretty great by black metal standards. Though making black metal sound medieval or adding folk arrangements had been done before, Dark Medieval Times is a massive landmark, though somewhat overlooked compared to the band's later albums. It excels in the atmosphere department, using both its grim frostbitten (especially cold due to all those wind samples) black metal and its acoustic/folk interludes to great effect, feeling both dark and awe-inspiring at the same time. A lot of it is also due to the use of keyboards, another field that is pretty innovative considering that this is 1993. The production is as raw as you can expect for the time, but working really well to enhance the ambiance, with the only drawback being that some of the transitions are a bit sloppy. So even if the atmosphere it conjures is quite evocative in its charming way, the songwriting can feel a bit immature. It's quite a fascinating grimmer version of Ulver's Bergtatt, which would come an year later.





Mysticum are the only band that Ulver released a split with, even if I didn't cover the split here since it contains no original material, and also the bass player of Mysticum, Robin "Dr. Best" Malmberg, played bass on Ulver's Vargnatt. The drumming machine is pretty standard fare for black metal nowadays, especially for bands that can't afford an actual drummer, but In The Streams Of Inferno is one of the earliest examples of the drumming machine being used to create an industrial effect, along with Samael's Passage, kicking the first domino towards industrial black metal. Compared to a lot of the industrial black metal bands to follow, which capitalized on the slow sludging sounds of industrial, most of the music on In The Streams Of Inferno switched between mid-paced crushers and fast-paced frenzy. The high-pitched reverb-heavy shrieks are probably one of the best things about this album, and though the drum programming (courtesy of the bass player who was in Ulver) is really original for its time, I can't say it aged that well. There's a campy feel to it all that feels like the audio equivalent of all those 3D rendered cover arts that permeated the late 90s/early 00s, though not nearly as bad. The sound did have a lot of potential, so it's a shame that the band's only other full length came 18 years afterwards. But that's not nearly as bad as the reissue cover art.





Arcturus is the second band that Garm joined as a vocalist in the mid 90s, though this time he wasn't the band's first vocalist, as Arcturus initially started as an offshoot of Mortem (NOR). But akin to Borknagar, the band started off in a more traditional black metal vein, albeit a more symphonic one, only to add more and more progressive touches. In Arcturus' case, the black metal would be all but replaced with avant-garde and electronica, but remaining grounded in metal. The dark and symphonic Aspera Hiems Symfonia, the circus-like La Masquerade Infernale, and the futuristic cosmic The Sham Mirrors all have their own flavor over the common thread, but The Sham Mirrors also marks the last metal album that Garm would appear on as a full time member, so it's quite a fitting end for our article. Other than drummer Hellhammer, all three other members have performed on at least one Ulver record. The sound here is a pretty unique combination of progressive metal with a lot of electronic textures, with a clear sense of melody. Though far from black metal, a bit of that cold atmosphere is still conveyed here, partly because space is cold and this is a pretty cosmic album, but also because this is clearly progressive metal done by people versed in black metal riffing. Ihsahn's guest vocal spot in "Radical Cut" is probably the most overtly black metal section. The theatricality still persists in how urgent and swirling the album feels, and Garm's powerful vocals play a huge part in it, probably second only to the keyboards. This is definitely a "keyboards album". Garm would once again play his trick of leaving the band after the release due to his lack of willingness to tour, and that would also mark the second time he would be replaced by ICS Vortex.




Overview



The first decade of Ulver's career is the most varied. Though they would keep changing their sound in the following decades as well, nothing has been as radical and stark as the each of the transitions in between Vargnatt and Metamorphosis. Even as a black metal band, Ulver showcased a large variety and appetite for more. Though I feel like Bergtatt might be the best entry point for the average metalhead, it might give them the wrong idea about what Ulver sound like. But then again, so can be said about literally every Ulver album. It feels like each Ulver album negates at least one other record. But what is pretty consistent, is that the band more or less succeeded at whatever sound they approached. So there's probably at least one Ulver album for anyone.






Written on 21.02.2021 by Doesn't matter that much to me if you agree with me, as long as you checked the album out.


Comments

Comments: 19   Visited by: 146 users
21.02.2021 - 18:26
Karlabos
Meat and Potatos
"Hence why I noticed that it's easier to find Ulver fans that are primarily metalheads than ones that are not"

Wait... There exist non-metalhead Ulver fans?
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21.02.2021 - 18:26
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
Written by Karlabos on 21.02.2021 at 18:26

"Hence why I noticed that it's easier to find Ulver fans that are primarily metalheads than ones that are not"

Wait... There exist non-metalhead Ulver fans?

I would assume so. Never met one though.
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21.02.2021 - 18:43
Milena
gloom cookie
"It feels like each Ulver album negates at least one other record." And only fuddy-duddies have a problem with that.
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7.0 means the album is good
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21.02.2021 - 22:15
doez
Hallucigenia
We need more Nattens Madrigal appreciation, 3 and a half stars is a crime
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21.02.2021 - 23:41
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
Written by doez on 21.02.2021 at 22:15

We need more Nattens Madrigal appreciation, 3 and a half stars is a crime

3.5 means the album is good
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22.02.2021 - 02:08
nikarg
Mod
I do appreciate Perdition City and another two or three albums that Ulver released after that. However, for me, the trilogy of Bergtatt, Kveldssanger, and Nattens Madrigal is their greatest achievement.
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22.02.2021 - 10:01
dammage11

"I've seen this dismissed as "metalhead's first electronic album", and I can see where that is coming from, as a lot of this album's strengths have been done better by other artists, but Perdition City still feels pretty unique to me. And it still sounds fresh to this day."

I need more music like perdition city but have found nothing that scratches that itch. What are these other albums that supposedly do this sort of aesthetic well?
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22.02.2021 - 10:02
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
Written by nikarg on 22.02.2021 at 02:08

I do appreciate Perdition City and another two or three albums that Ulver released after that. However, for me, the trilogy of Bergtatt, Kveldssanger, and Nattens Madrigal is their greatest achievement.


and it will stay for eternity, such classic. Band is dead after it, never will rise ande be so high as in youth days.
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Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
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22.02.2021 - 10:38
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
Written by dammage11 on 22.02.2021 at 10:01

I need more music like perdition city but have found nothing that scratches that itch. What are these other albums that supposedly do this sort of aesthetic well?

I can't really find anything that nails it exactly, but you can find stuff that sounds like parts of Perdition City. I'd start with Coil, for whom I'd recommend Love's Secret Domain, Musick to Play in the Dark and The Ape of Naples. Massive Attack's Mezzanine is probably the most entry level you can go for trip-hop, and Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble's Here Be Dragons and Bohren & der Club of Gore's Sunset Mission for dark jazz. For another band that went electronic with a similar vibe the same year, go with Radiohead's Kid A. Some IDM / ambient stuff: Autechre's Tri repetae and Confield, Aphex Twin's two Selected Ambient Works and drukqs. Then you can go with Archive's Take My Head and Noise, Susumu Yokota's Sakura, Fennesz's Endless Summer and Venice, Stars Of The Lid's The Ballasted Orchestra and The Tired Sounds Of, Röyksopp's Melody A.M., Saltillo's Ganglion, DJ Shadow's Endtroducing..., The Future Sounds of London's Dead Cities or Four Tet's Rounds. Something in here is bound to scratch that itch a bit.
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22.02.2021 - 15:31
nikarg
Mod
^ And even if they don't scratch that itch, they all slay. What a list.
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22.02.2021 - 17:37
Metal Spartan

Great breakdown of Ulver's albums, career and bands they influenced. Although I'm normally of the opinion that a band should change their name if they steer too far away from their roots or switch genres altogether (it's basically false advertising at that point, isn't it?), I give Ulver a pass. Nothing beats their black/folk metal days, but I definitely enjoyed their non-metal albums as well.
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22.02.2021 - 17:45
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
Written by Metal Spartan on 22.02.2021 at 17:37

Great breakdown of Ulver's albums, career and bands they influenced. Although I'm normally of the opinion that a band should change their name if they steer too far away from their roots or switch genres altogether (it's basically false advertising at that point, isn't it?), I give Ulver a pass. Nothing beats their black/folk metal days, but I definitely enjoyed their non-metal albums as well.

Not sure how much they'd be false advertising if no one sees that there is a new Ulver album and thinks "Damn, I wonder if it's a black metal record".
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22.02.2021 - 17:55
Metal Spartan

Written by RaduP on 22.02.2021 at 17:45

Written by Metal Spartan on 22.02.2021 at 17:37

Great breakdown of Ulver's albums, career and bands they influenced. Although I'm normally of the opinion that a band should change their name if they steer too far away from their roots or switch genres altogether (it's basically false advertising at that point, isn't it?), I give Ulver a pass. Nothing beats their black/folk metal days, but I definitely enjoyed their non-metal albums as well.

Not sure how much they'd be false advertising if no one sees that there is a new Ulver album and thinks "Damn, I wonder if it's a black metal record".

Guess that's why I give them a pass. There are many, as you said in your article, that left and even denounced the band once they switched genres, considering only the first 4 albums as the only true version of Ulver (even if Kveldssanger was an all-acoustic album).
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22.02.2021 - 21:43
dammage11

Written by RaduP on 22.02.2021 at 10:38

Written by dammage11 on 22.02.2021 at 10:01

I need more music like perdition city but have found nothing that scratches that itch. What are these other albums that supposedly do this sort of aesthetic well?

I can't really find anything that nails it exactly, but you can find stuff that sounds like parts of Perdition City. I'd start with Coil, for whom I'd recommend Love's Secret Domain, Musick to Play in the Dark and The Ape of Naples. Massive Attack's Mezzanine is probably the most entry level you can go for trip-hop, and Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble's Here Be Dragons and Bohren & der Club of Gore's Sunset Mission for dark jazz. For another band that went electronic with a similar vibe the same year, go with Radiohead's Kid A. Some IDM / ambient stuff: Autechre's Tri repetae and Confield, Aphex Twin's two Selected Ambient Works and drukqs. Then you can go with Archive's Take My Head and Noise, Susumu Yokota's Sakura, Fennesz's Endless Summer and Venice, Stars Of The Lid's The Ballasted Orchestra and The Tired Sounds Of, Röyksopp's Melody A.M., Saltillo's Ganglion, DJ Shadow's Endtroducing..., The Future Sounds of London's Dead Cities or Four Tet's Rounds. Something in here is bound to scratch that itch a bit.


Thanks! Seems like I got a lot of homework to do
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23.02.2021 - 00:56
BitterCOld
The Ancient One
All in all, great wrap up, though I enjoy NM more than you do. (Side note, the poster was featured in the bedrooms of both Soprano kids on the show) ... Perhaps my partial hearing loss, particularly high end, makes this a bit more palatable. Also agree with the DT assessment in that along with Transilvanian Hunger, it seems front loaded with slightly weaker tracks on Side B, though I love Wolf And The Night.

I definitely liked Teachings in Silence more than you, I enjoy putting this on and letting it simmer. Definitely wouldn't be a starting place for getting into the band, though. Defo an afterthought until after you find yourself enjoying Perdition City or not.

I can guarantee you there are plenty of fans of the modern releases who probably aren't into the metal thing. Probably a lot who view those albums the same way Bad English thinks about anything after them. Just checking their backers on Bandcamp will probably find a lot. If new to the forum, whenever Bad English says "band is dead after [record x]" you can bet that anything after that is a divergence from metal and quite possibly more interesting. Wolves evolve and all that.
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get the fuck off my lawn.

Beer Bug Virus Spotify Playlist crafted by Nikarg and I. Feel free to tune in and add some pertinent metal tunes!
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23.02.2021 - 21:52
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
What a band, what a albums, legacy, brilliant young men did it, wrote a viking runes what can't be scalded away. It's magic.
Arcturus, Covenant came in a right time, place whit right albums. In some way they had more value as Mayhem, Darkthrone, Burzum, Taake. Its essential classic what inspired more avant-garde, neo folk, folk black bands that bm is not about bering raw
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Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
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03.03.2021 - 00:31
X-Ray Rod
Skandino
Excellent write up as usual, Radu. I can't say I have a lot to add besides my own personal views of the band as a whole.
I was well aware of the band's black metal status when I first discovered them. But the first album I remember listening in full was in fact Perdition City. I kind of worked my way back. Kveldssanger in particular is a very personal album which I greatly enjoy in company of my best friend. Specially during that time we composed acoustic songs together that unfortunately never took off (my fault tbh). Still, beautiful memories. It's also funny how my best friend and I sort of moved on from Kveldssanger and I showed him another face from the wolf in the form of Perdition City. Which became another soundtrack of our friendship. Aaaah, I love when music does that.

I echo Craigs thoughts on Teaches of Silence. A great album to drift off. But I agree with the rating overall.
If you ask me: The underappreciated dark horse in their dark electronic part of their discography is definitely Lyckantropen Themes. I really do enjoy that album a lot. It does a lot with the running time and I think it was their best take on the hypnotic glitch sound they were working on at the time before moving to neo-classical and more structured electronic albums. Incredibly moody and DARK. Puts me on edge at times but man I remember hiting the replay button on "Theme 5" A LOT. So simple yet so fucking soothing and brilliant. Who would have thought that being detached from human emotions would feel so good. It took me a few years to give the movie a go and I recommend it to you. It's funny how in sync it works with the flow of the album, truly earning the soundtrack status. Svidd Neger is good too but Lyckantropen Themes is so far my favorite soundtrack album Ulver has released and I don't seem them outdoing it any time soon.

And yeah, the remix album is shitty. I was so disappointed when I listened to it. But oh well it was on sale for like 3 euros together with other Ulver albums I bought at the time during a summer sale a label was doing.
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Written by BloodTears on 19.08.2011 at 18:29
Like you could kiss my ass
Written by Milena on 20.06.2012 at 10:49
Rod, let me love you.
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07.03.2021 - 13:21
Callisto

Congrats man, I've an occasional Ulver listener form their recent albums, but this article made me see the full reach of their work. Enjoying most of them actually.

Thanks!
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31.03.2021 - 03:35
Alakazam
yolo grindset
I appreciate the associations part more than Ulver themselves as they're stronger. I had to glance and skip reading the holes in my knowledge on some albums for spoiler's sake but I have got them and Ulver again lined up for a discog run obviously.

Over time my appreciation of Ulver's music quality has wained, making Ulver as a whole increasingly overrated and not as impactful as the associated, let alone the albums by those that were inspired by them but we'll see. It was a pleasant surprise to learn that many individually respected names associated made the one elephant in the room clearer.

I used to think every metalheads first electronic album was by Prodigy or Aphex Twin. I'm glad I stated Ulver the way it was meant to be.
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