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ULVER - Kveldssanger - CD - Head not Found - 1996

review by: Roberto Martinelli

There is no other black metal band that puts forest worship so beautifully as Norwayís Ulver did. Weíre talking about when the band was a proper black metal group, now. This is the period from 1995-1997 (right, they did some demos prior to that), spanning Bergtatt, Kveldssanger, and Nattens Madrigal ó three of the most incredible black metal albums of all time.

This particular article is about the second of the three records. Kveldssanger, is, on one hand, an entirely acoustic album. The instrumentation is not particularly diverse. The main players are acoustic guitars and voice, with some instances of violin, a track with very, very simple tom-tom percussion ("Ulvsblakk"), and a track of nothing but a solitary flute and wind ("Heiertets Bee"). The vocals, which are in Norwegian, are all clean and delivered in a chant-like style. Exquisite use of layering and harmony is applied, and gives Kveldssanger just as much of its appeal as does the delicate, beautiful classical-meets-folk instrumentation. On a few tracks, the only instrumentation is indeed voice, but if you donít pay attention, you might notice its nakedness (so to speak) because of all the melodic layering going on.

But on the other hand, Kveldssanger is as black metal an album as they come. This is the magic trick that no band (except maybe Empyrium, on their non-synthesized, later albums) has ever managed to come close to ó making a metal album with all the elements of metal apparently taken out... but having it still evoke so many of the same feelings a black metal album can. Itís ironic. Some of the music will evoke images of someone playing a wind-up music box for you ("Halling"). Others will make you marvel at how much you can do with the vocalization of "ahhh," like on "A cappella (Sielens Sang)" and "Ord." (sometimes it seems that 40 percent of the vocals are made of that singular sound.)

Listen to the three Ulver albums in a row, and although itís certainly not the same sound ó Nattens Madrigal, being the infamous one to have been "recorded at night in the woods," is the antithesis of Kveldssanger in itís nails-on-a-chalkboard production, with Bergtatt being dead in the middle of the two ó itís the same vibe. Itís the forest worship. The albums convey the most lovely sense of the reverence of the grandest nature that the northernmost places on the globe can offer. Thereís strength in being alone and at peace with nature. Now mix that with reverence for Scandinavian cultural heritage, and make a recording of it all that is dark, warm and relaxed... kind of like being in a cozy shack overlooking a Norwegian fjord... but the shackís foundation is in the shape of a pentagram.





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