Ulver
Shadows of the Sun


4.0
excellent

Review

by Trey Spencer STAFF
October 19th, 2007 | 382 replies | 41,477 views


Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Ulver's excellent use of subtle melodies and restraint results in their best non-metal album of their career.

Ulver are one of those eclectic bands that have done so much during their careers that in order to completely delve into their past it would end up being longer then this entire review. Suffice it to say that no matter what genre Ulver has chosen to dabble in, they have always released a high quality album, and this one is no different. On this release, Shadows of the Sun, Ulver have taken a decidedly more subtle approach to songwriting and the mood they’re attempting to create, but what a mood it is. The feeling that you get while listening to this album could best be summed up by the word “serenity”. Granted, it is a somber form of serenity, but the word still fits perfectly.

Ulver accomplishes this serene atmosphere by removing a lot of the more abrasive elements of their past albums. Gone are the loud/quiet dynamics and the aural dissonance of albums such as Blood Inside or Perdition City. Instead what we get is their most mellow release since Svidd Neger, but mellow does not mean boring. Ulver have done a superb job of making the most effective use of subtlety that they can, and in doing so have also made the best non-metal album of their career, and that includes Kveldssanger. Through their expert use of pianos, keyboards, subtle effects and beats, eerie sound effects, brass instruments and the best vocals of Garm’s career Ulver have finally accomplished what only a few bands such as Radiohead have done before, they have created their own genre that no other band could ever truly replicate.

The album starts off with a gloomy synth melody that slowly increases in volume, followed by some of Garm’s most effective vocals of his career. I love Ulver, but I have no problem saying that in past releases Garm’s vocals were occasionally cringe-inducing, but that is not a problem anywhere on this release. After Garm’s soothing vocals establish the mood, a few other delicate synth melodies materialize as well, and continue to just allow you to drift along with the song. Near the midpoint violins are added to the song as well, and Garm’s vocals acquire a distant sound as if you’re hearing them from across an isolated, dark nothingness where you continue to drift and the creator of these vocals is just out of sight. It’s a great atmosphere and one of the better songs on the album.

The next song, “All the Love”, is only marginally less mellow then the opening track because it actually contains a beat, albeit a slow one, but it still effectively gives you a feeling a floating, only with just the slightest bit of turbulence. In addition to the synths of the first song, this one also adds piano, a horn, as well as cello, and, of course, some more top-notch vocals from Garm. The feeling of floating that is created within this song is accentuated by a slight feeling of movement based on the rolling nature of the piano melodies, and the slow drive of the beat. As this song fades into the next track, and if you’ve been paying attention, it begins to feel like you’re almost on a journey within your own mind.

The album continues to give you that feeling of floating and serenity through its effective use of subtly and melody for the next few tracks until track six, “Let the Children Go”, which is the most similar to songs from the last few albums. It starts with a great mellow female-choir effect coupled with more of Garm’s much-improved vocals, but it only stays mellow for about a minute. After the first minute of the song, it introduces one of the rare moments of dissonance in the form of a rolling percussive sound, and some slightly distorted synth lines. After a few moments it loses the percussion and moves into a more epic sounding section where Garm layers some of his higher vocals over some deeper vocals, all accompanied by synth, trumpet, and a smooth bass line.

The final three tracks close out the album in the same way it began, with a great use of subtlety and melody, combined with Garm’s vocals, all working towards giving you the feeling of just floating through empty space while sounds occasionally drift by from the darkness. If there are any problems that some may have with this new album it is going to be the same thing that is going to make others love this album, and that is its subtlety. Whereas on Blood Inside and Perdition City the albums commanded your attention due to their frequent shift from soft to loud sections and their regular use of discordant sounds, Shadows of the Sun will easily fade away from your attention if you don’t give it the awareness it deserves.

Despite the fact that this is without a doubt the best of Ulver’s non-metal outputs; due to the persistent use of subtlety on this album I wouldn’t go so far as to recommend this to someone who has never heard Ulver’s later works, especially if they have heard their metal albums and enjoy them. The album recommendation for those people would obviously have to be Blood Inside due to it’s ability to force the listener to pay attention. For those that have heard their later works and enjoy them or simply take pleasure in the mellower side of music, this is by far Ulver’s best non-metal album and most worthy of your focus, preferably in the dark with headphones.



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user ratings (546)
Chart.
4
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Willie
Moderator
October 19th 2007



15908 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

On my last two reviews I tried to focus more on keeping them brief and less on the actual content within, and not only was I not able to keep them brief but I think the quality suffered too...

This time I went back to ignoring the length and just focused on getting what I wanted to say out... hopefully that makes a difference.

Any feedback would be appreciated.This Message Edited On 10.19.07

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
October 20th 2007



17920 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I want this.

Tyler
Emeritus
October 20th 2007



7926 Comments


Despite the fact that this is without a doubt the best of Ulver’s non-metal outputs

Not really. Definitely not "Without a doubt".

Bought this Wednesday, only got one half-assed listen in but I definitely don't see it hitting a 4.5. We'll see, I plan on reviewing it.

NemesisDivina
October 20th 2007



141 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Good review, I don't think this is anywhere near a 4.5 though... I also think that Perdition City is easily Ulver's best album.

/wearing Perdition City shirt

Tyler
Emeritus
October 20th 2007



7926 Comments


Eh, Perdition City is a 3.5 at best for me.

NemesisDivina
October 20th 2007



141 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

ehhh... why is the tag for Ulver black metal? They released two black metal albums before going into their more trip hop experimental ambient phase. that tag really should be the dominant label.

Tyler
Emeritus
October 20th 2007



7926 Comments


It's based around albums, not artists. I queued up Electronica as a subgenre, as there was none.This Message Edited On 10.19.07

Willie
Moderator
October 20th 2007



15908 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I've listened to this two or three times a day, pretty much every day since it came out ... it's a grower, and it really does need to have your total attention to be appreciated.

Don't get me wrong, I love Perdition City and Blood Inside... I even like the random EP's... this one just hit me in a way the others haven't.

Foodforthegods
October 20th 2007



425 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This album is simply amazing. EOS and Vigil stand out imo. The black sabbath cover is great too. Definatly one of the best album released this year.

Tyler
Emeritus
October 20th 2007



7926 Comments


well I definitely look forward to delving deeper into it. I just noticed on my initial listen that the vocals got particularly monotonous (rare) and irritating (rarer). They almost sounded sterile.

and I love Garm. But we'll see, it might have just hit me weird that first time.

Willie
Moderator
October 20th 2007



15908 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

His vocals are more subdued on this album then ever before, but I think it helped because there was never any cringe-inducing moments on this album.

Like I said, it needs your attention and a few spins to really get into... I've had it since the day it came out, and have held off on reviewing it simply because it got better every time.

ZapatoDiablo
October 20th 2007



167 Comments


Damn why did it take so long for someone to review this :lol:...I had completely forgotten about this release. Good review I can't wait to listen to this.

Tyler
Emeritus
October 20th 2007



7926 Comments


I was going to review it early but didnt end up buying it until two days ago

EyesWideShut
October 20th 2007



3125 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

looks like a great album to smoke to, or just chill. I bet the production super crisp to where it absorbs you into the music.

Pebster49
October 20th 2007



2991 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

its not a PC, but Its as good as Blood Inside, very interesting album...I need to listen to it more

Unreal
October 20th 2007



229 Comments


really great review, Willie,

I need this so bad, although I enjoyed perdition city alot more than Svidd, this still definately needs some of my atten tion.

and most worthy of your focus, preferably in the dark with headphones.

lol,


Willie
Moderator
October 20th 2007



15908 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Damn why did it take so long for someone to review this
I bought it the day it came out and planned on reviewing that same day or the next, but after hearing it realized I couldn't do it justice after two days... so I've listened and waited until I thought I had a better understanding of it.
I bet the production super crisp to where it absorbs you into the music.
It definitely is.
I need this so bad, although I enjoyed perdition city alot more than Svidd, this still definately needs some of my attention.
This is far better then Svidd, I just compared it for the sake of mellowness, but in all other ways this is superior to that album.

Wizard
October 20th 2007



19329 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Nice review once again Willie. I might check this out. I wasnt too much a fan of their electronic indulgements.

Digging: YOB - Clearing The Path To Ascend

Eakflanderyof
October 20th 2007



2143 Comments


This has the coolest album art ever.

Doppelganger
October 20th 2007



3124 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Good review. This album is a 3.5 for me though, still better than Blood Inside. I could listen to Eos over and over again.



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