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Ulver Nattens Madrigal – Aatte Hymne Til Ulven I Manden Review

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General Information:

Artist: Ulver
Album: Nattens Madrigal – Aatte Hymne Til Ulven I Manden
Genre(s): Heavy Metal
Subgenre(s): Black Metal
Released: 1997
Length: 44 minutes
Language(s): Dano-Norwegian
Label(s): Century Media

Track List:

01. Hymne I: Wolf and Fear
02. Hymne II: Wolf and the Devil
03. Hymne III: Wolf and Hatred
04. Hymne IV: Wolf and Man
05. Hymne V: Wolf and the Moon
06. Hymne VI: Wolf and Passion
07. Hymne VII: Wolf and Destiny
08. Hymne VIII: Wolf and the Night

Note: Some versions of this album only use the roman numerals shown above for the track list so track 1 is “I” and track 8 is “VIII” etc.

Ulver Nattens Madrigal - Aatte Hymne Til Ulven I Manden Cover

Ulver Nattens Madrigal – Aatte Hymne Til Ulven I Manden Cover

Ulver Nattens Madrigal – Aatte Hymne Til Ulven I Manden Review

Nattens Madrigal – Aatte Hymne Til Ulven I Manden, meaning “Madrigal of the Night – Eight Hymns to the Wolf in Man”, is the third album by Norwegian band Ulver. Bergtatt, their debut album, was a softer form of black metal with some influences from folk music, so Ulver proceeded to distil their hybrid sound into the original genres. The results of this are the neofolk sound on their second album, Kveldssanger, and their adherence to “raw” (read: under-produced) black metal here.

The reasoning behind this under-produced album is supposed to be an intentional backlash against the growing popularity of black metal and bigger record labels signing the bands. The irony here is that Ulver moved from a small label, Head Not Found, to Century Media which already had a slew of success throughout the 1990s with Demolition Hammer, Iced Earth, Moonspell, Nevermore and then the City album by Strapping Young Lad that was released approximately 3 weeks before Nattens Madrigal.

Unlike their previous two albums Nattens Madrigal is entirely undercooked as far as the recording goes. As a consequence the guitars sound like an angry swarm of bees, the drums patter away without any impact and the bass is an afterthought at best. Aside from a short acoustic interlude on track 1 and some even shorter ambient moments used to bridge certain songs together, there is nothing memorable or redeemable about this release.

If there is anything worthwhile under all the noise it is forever lost on the intentionally-made mess that black metal fans tend to sing the praises of – which it certainly does not deserve – and there is no hint of irony. For anyone outside of this musical circle the mythical status Nattens Madrigal has achieved will forever be lost on them.

If you didn’t have tinnitus before hearing Nattens Madrigal you certainly will after.

Performers:

Kristoffer “Garm” Rygg: Vocals
Havard “Haavard” Jorgensen: Guitar
Torbjorn “Aismal” Pedersen: Guitar
Hugh “Skoll” Stephen James Mingay: Bass
Eric “Aiwarikiar” Olivier Lancelot: Drums

External Links:

Ulver Homepage
Ulver on Wikipedia
Nattens Madrigal – Aatte Hymne Til Ulven I Manden on Wikipedia

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Ulver Bergtatt – Et eeventyr i 5 capitler Review

General Information:

Artist: Ulver
Album: Bergtatt – Et eeventyr i 5 capitler
Genre(s): Heavy Metal
Subgenre(s): Black Metal
Released: 1995
Length: 34 minutes
Language(s): Dano-Norwegian
Label(s): Head Not Found

Track List:

01. Capitel I: I Troldskog Faren Vild
02. Capitel II: Soelen Gaaer Bag Aase Need
03. Capitel III: Graablick Blev Hun Vaer
04. Capitel IV: Een Stemme Locker
05. Capitel V: Bergtatt – Ind I Fjeldkamrene

Ulver Bergtatt - Et eeventyr i 5 capitler Cover

Ulver Bergtatt – Et eeventyr i 5 capitler Cover

Ulver Bergtatt – Et eeventyr i 5 capitler Review

Bergtatt – Et eeventyr i 5 capitler, meaning “Spellbound – A Fairy Tale in 5 Chapters”, is the debut album of Norwegian band Ulver. Bergtatt is an irregular album within the second wave of black metal in that it shows a young band embracing a then still-new and growing subgenre of music while melding it with outside influences, ultimately running contrary to the trends and conventions of the scene. This album would later proved to be a front runner for the fusion genre of blackgaze – an unorthodox hybrid of black metal and the shoegaze subgenre of rock music – which emerged a decade or so later.

Translated into English as “Lost in the Dark Forest” the first song, or chapter as per the format used in the song titles, presents the listener with one of the most accessible black metal songs of the album’s era. The young singer and lyricist Kristoffer Rygg, known by the pseudonym “Garm” at this time, has a light voice that sounds as though he is gently calling out through the distortion like a person’s figure emerging from the mist as they approach you.

With any knowledge of black metal you would expect him to turn into a shrieking harpy as the song mutates into a frenzy of wrathful black metal dominated by overbearing blast beats from drummer Erik Olivier Lancelot. Somehow this never happens and the listener is only snapped out of the hazy, distortion-induced trance by the sudden transition to an acoustic guitar interlude nearly 6 minutes in. As good as the performance is, the transition to this is jarring to the point of upsetting the flow of the song. However, the transition back to black metal is well-executed and the electric guitar lead playing to the conclusion of the song is both tasteful and memorable.

It does not take long to recognise that Bergtatt was created from a black metal foundation and punctuated with outside influences. Most notably this outside influence comes from folk music. It often comes in the form of interludes but there are longer segments in other chapters. Flautist Lill Kathrine Stensrud gives her talents to Chapter 2 to create a pastoral feel when mixed with the acoustic guitar and this song somehow ends with a short and gentle acapella outro. She also performs backing vocals on Chapter 4 which sees Ulver playing a straight hand throughout this piece. Ulver fully realise their folk tendencies here and it makes for a standout moment on Bergtatt but some black metal enthusiasts might find this piece wanting.

The preceding Chapter 3 leans heavily into black metal but bassist Hugh Mingay still remains prominent in the mix. He adds a certain moody atmosphere through the use of a slow and hypnotic hook and Ulver adds a sample of a gunshot, which rings out in the middle of all this, just in case there isn’t already enough chaos blasting out your speakers.

Following another uneasy transition, which could have been compelling if it was developed further, the frantic black metal changes into an up-tempo acoustic segment. Later there is another sample but this time of the footsteps of someone stumbling through a forest for a good minute. Thematically it follows the narrative of the lyrics and has a somewhat cinematic quality to it when mixed it in with the piano piece courtesy of Steinar Sverd Johnsen (Arcturus) but it only takes away from his playing but the sample goes on for far too long.

Chapter 5 is the finale to Bergtatt and it continues the fusion that listeners will be well acquainted with by this point. When the song fades out with some sound effects, it is briefly revived for another acoustic outro. However, given how quiet it gets for a few seconds it almost comes across as a separate song. This further demonstrates that these contrasting genres are not always melded together as skilfully one might wish even if Ulver are proficient with both on their own.

Ulver have never been a band to be pigeonholed, even when looking back on the very beginning of their career, and their willingness to unapologetically experiment and follow their own guiding star allowed them to be true to their own artistic vision and create their own niche in or outside of any music scene.

Performers:

Kristoffer “Garm” Rygg: Vocals
Havard “Haavard” Jorgensen: Guitar
Torbjorn “Aismal” Pedersen: Guitar
Hugh “Skoll” Stephen James Mingay: Bass
Eric “Aiwarikiar” Olivier Lancelot: Drums

Additional Musicians:

Lill Kathrine Stensrud: Backing Vocals, Flute
Steinar Sverd Johnsen: Piano

External Links:

Ulver Homepage
Ulver on Wikipedia
Bergtatt – Et eeventyr i 5 capitler on Wikipedia

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Darkspace Darkspace III I Review

General Information:

Artist: Darkspace
Album: Darkspace III I
Genre(s): Ambient, Heavy Metal
Subgenres(s): Black Metal, Dark Ambient
Released: 2014
Length: 64 minutes
Language(s): N/A
Label(s): Avantgarde Music

Track List:

01. Dark 4.18
02. Dark 4.19
03. Dark 4.20

Dark Space Dark Space III I Cover

Dark Space Dark Space III I Cover

Darkspace Darkspace III I Review

Darkspace III I is the fourth album by Swiss black metallers Darkspace. Aside from every album having similar cover art work and following the same numerical sequence for song titles, they also repeat the same challenging run time with overly long songs blended together by using dark ambient segments. On the surface this description makes Darkspace sound as though they’re following the same rigid pattern as their older output, which begs the question of what’s new?

Perhaps the most obvious change is in the recording quality because while Darkspace still insist on overloading the listener on high-density distortion, it doesn’t bare the same intensity of their earlier output and with Dark 4.19, their sound is refined to a significantly more accessible style that relies on simple and repetitive guitar riffs between the prevalent buzz-saw guitar and muffled blasting drum sections that can often go on for minutes at a time, which Dark 4.18 will acquaint you with soon enough.

All three band members are credited for vocal duties but this is by far the most irrelevant part of the album because not only are they so sparsely arranged throughout these monstrously long songs, they are also completely unintelligible and buried under a mountain of distortion so it’s impossible to make anything of them. The only exception to this is the use of a small sample from the film 2010: The Year We Make Contact on Dark 4.20

It’s also worth noting that this album is effectively a singular song broken down into three parts which are then stitched back together through the use of dark ambiance. In spite of the ambition and overall length of Darkspace III I, it would be a far cry to call this progressive metal due to the sheer repetition (if nothing else) and if it was to be cut down then you could easily have an album at half the length and twice the replay value.

In short it’s best to say that this is business as usual for Darkspace. Existing fans will probably be delighted by it and for everyone else it’s going to be a question of being able to put time aside to listen to it uninterrupted.

Performers:

Zorgh: Bass, vocals
Zhaaral: Guitar, vocals
Worth: Guitar, vocals

External Links:

Darkspace Homepage
Darkspace on Wikipedia
Darkspace III I on Wikipedia

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Ihsahn The Adversary Review

General Information:

Artist: Ihsahn
Album: The Adversary
Genre(s): Heavy Metal
Subgenres(s): Black Metal, Progressive Metal
Released: 2006
Length: 50 minutes
Language(s): English
Label(s): Candlelight Records, Mnemosyne Productions

Track List:

01. Invocation
02. Called by the Fire
03. Citizen
04. Homecoming
05. Astera Ton Proinon
06. Panem et Circenses
07. And He Shall Walk in Empty Places
08. Will You Love Me Now?
09. The Pain is Still Mine

Ihsahn The Adversary Cover

Ihsahn The Adversary Cover

Ihsahn The Adversary Review

The Adversary is the debut solo album of Emperor front man and multi-instrumentalist Ihsahn. The sound of The Adversary is a continuation of the black metal and progressive metal hybrid that Emperor experimented with on their final album, Prometheus: The Discipline of Fire & Demise.

Starting with Invocation, the listener gets a compact overview of what direction Ihsahn is taking as he introduces The Adversary with an intense black metal verse with matching lyrics and a screeched vocal delivery to invoke apocalyptic imagery before crying “let it all come down” which is appropriately accompanied by relentless blast beat drumming, courtesy of Asgeir Mickelson, to tie the lyrics and music together in a dramatic style.

Keyboards are employed as a background instrument in both the hard and soft segments of the song, the latter of which lasts for about 2 minutes after the explosive blast beats, and introduces Ihsahn’s clean singing style that goes from even tempered to a strained falsetto wail.

While Ihsahn shows some skill as a singer among his other musical talents Kristoffer Rygg (of Ulver fame) offers a stronger sung performance on Homecoming that can’t help but make the listener think that Ihsahn should have performed the harsh vocals while getting Kristoffer Rygg to cover the sung portion of The Adversary. The music on Homecoming also introduces more textural qualities when Kristoffer Rygg sings and this gives off the impression that at least parts of the song was written with his specific voice in mind but however you look at it, it proves to be a well-executed endeavour.

The Pain is Still Mine is a little over 10 minutes long, making it twice the length of the other songs, but it gives the progressive metal strain much more room the breathe as you might expect if you are familiar with the subgenre. It should also be said that most of the progressive metal elements come in the form of each song having several different consecutive verses or instrumental passages and this isn’t the kind of album that lies on the virtuosity end of the progressive spectrum.

Like any musician or band that blends polarising genres or sounds together, they must take care to fuse them together properly less they end up with a patchwork quilt of an album at worst or some head scratching transitions at best. In the case of The Adversary this sort of pitfall is avoided in most instances and there are only a couple of questionable transitional sections to be heard. One of these moments is the sudden stop half way into Citizen where you think that the song has ended but before you can finish that thought a piano melody comes out of nowhere and makes you think that it’s an entirely different song. However when this is spliced together with bursts of wrathful vocals and clean guitar playing later in the song the blending of styles is much more convincing.

Perhaps the biggest drawback of this album is Ihsahn’s harsh vocal style which can often sound strained like Marge Simpson if she had a sore throat but for die hard Emperor fans wanting more material from one of black metals early stalwart musicians then this will hardly be something to fault. If you are a fan of indulgent-free progressive metal with a harder edge coming from the black metal realm then The Adversary is an ideal and relatively accessible point of reference to start with.

Performers:

Ihsahn: Vocals, guitar, bass guitar, keyboards
Asgeir Mickelson: Drums
Kristoffer Rygg: Guest vocals on “Homecoming”

External Links:

Ihsahn Homepage
Ihsahn on Wikipedia
The Adversary on Wikipedia