In Norwegian, Ulver means Wolf. Ulver was a black metal band back in the early-mid 90's. There first three official releases are known as the black metal trilogy. This consists of
"Bergtatt," "Kveldsjanger" and "Nattens Madrigal." After these three albums Ulver became an electronic/atmospheric band, they often do themes for small Norwegian movies. (See "Svidd Neger" and "Lycantropen" as movies they made theme albums for.)
I must warn you now, if you ever hear a song off this album or you buy the album. It has the worst sound quality i have ever heard. The guitars are pure crunch, the bass and drums are basically audible, except for the snare drum which you can barely hear. The vocals are very loud, but somewhat distorted giving this album a pure raw feeling.
Now for the review...
Track one: Hymn one: This song starts off with blazing aggression, out of nowhere a tremelo picked riff and a solo soon follows. Then, Enter Garm. His vocals on this album are gut wrenching black metal screams, his vocals are absolutely incredible on this album. Out of nowhere, in comes acoustic guitars that fit perfectly together, they are harmonized so well. This acoustic interlude does not last long, soon comes in christ raping black metal resembling the likes of Darkthrone. The song finishes with black metal with some harmonizing over top of it. All of the tracks are connected with an atmospheric thing, it makes you feel like you are in a cave.
Track two: Hymn two: In comes a crunchy guitar riff, with some palm muted tremelo picking, and a nice melody riff over this. Then comes the black metal, and this is pure black metal, with the drums going behind it. This riff is what black metal is, pure atmospheric black metal. The guitar riffs are brilliantly arranged, and Garms screams that seem like they are from another world, are a very nice touch to this song. Soon comes another solo, this is one of the few bands that has succesfully soloed over black metal. The song finishes with all out black metal assault.
Track three: Hymn three: I'm not a big fan of this song, it's not as well put together as the rest of the songs on the album. The chords just don't seem to flow as well as the other songs do. The song does proceed to get better though, soon a tremelo picked riff comes in and this improves the song, not to mention the riff behind it changes completely, this part of the song is very atmospheric, guitarwise. The song returns to it's begining form, but proceeds to end on a good note with some tremelo picking and a perfectly set atmosphere which leads into the next song nicely.
Track four: Hymn four: This song starts off with sort of a thrashy riff, then proceeds to be one of the heavier songs on the album, the chord progression arrangement is one of brilliance, especially with blast beats behind it and Garms screams supporting the music. Soon, the music returns to it's regular state with some very melodic tremelo picking. The song ends on a brilliant note with atmospheric black metal.
Track five: Hymn five: This song from the very beginning is very raw and crunchy. The verse riff is raw black metal, especially with Garm screaming his lungs out on this track. The next riff is decent at best, it gets boring after a while, even with the melody of the tremelo picking over it. Soon, they return to the raw black metal which is what this album is known for. This song ends fantastically, which a combination of a brilliant riff and the melody of tremelo picking over it.
Track six: Hymn six: This is the happiest black metal song, i've ever heard in my life. I'm not exaggerating at all. The intro riff, makes me one to get up and dance because it's so happy. In comes the verse riff which is some tremelo picking and this isn't is happy as the first riff, it's a nice fit in the song. Then, they begin to return to the rawness of the rest of the album with a riff that isn't as raw as the rest of the album but is still a nice fit in this song, especially. The song ends the same way it started, very happy.
Track seven: Hymn seven: This song is also somewhat happy, the riffs are definitely in major keys. The first riff continues throughout most of this song, with Garms enchanting screams over this riff. Soon, the pace is changed up with some tremelo picking but it's still basically the same riff. The riff changes throughout the song, but also stays essentially the same. This is one of the most enjoyable songs on the album.
Track Eight: Hymn eight: This song is the most melodic on the entire album and probably my favorite. (This song is on Blackmetalradio.com, episode 70 i believe). It starts off with arpeggios being tremelo picked with the appropriate chords being played behind it aswell. This riff is used greatly throughout the song. Soon, there is a black metal riff with some piano behind it, nothing special but it's very noticeable in the song and it sounds great. Then, you can really hear where Ulver's avant garde roots come in. During the course of this song, they do some truely weird things that i can't really explain in a review. You have to hear this song for yourself, they still maintain the raw black metal elements that this whole album has in this song. Though this song has a little more than the rest of the album (the pianos, and the weird noises.) The song ends with everything coming together, thus ending the album.