Review Summary: Emergency Responding
In 1998 Ulver unabashedly uplifted their roots from the soil of black metal to explore new territory and delve into the world electronica. Trading in gloomy, distorted riffs for programmed beats Ulver was ready to pit against the world of ambience. If there is one thing everyone knows about Ulver it is that are constantly exploring and experimenting in new territory however in some ways this old dogma remains loyal including to its days of Bergtatt. Not so much in a sense of black metal conviction but rather that the artistic endeavours of Ulver remain true to creating haunting melodies and visceral, cathartic soundscapes.
Blood Inside is an excellent often overlooked Ulver release and understandably so. This album is like a sexy shy girl, it may be difficult to get her to open up but once you do it can be awfully rewarding. Without question there is one thing this album isn’t lacking that being confidence. Commonplace dabbling with soaring melodies opening and closing upon the songs, rendering it hard not to notice the influenced of vocal jazz. An obvious example of jazz influence is in ‘Your Call’ where violin and a twinkly 50’s style orchestration join in on the action. How about towards the end of ‘In the Red’ where the song transitions into almost a swing-like jam reminiscent of a quirky spy movie theme. Just as you are attempting to put the puzzle together a saxophone kicks the pieces flying and takes the whole scene up a notch to bring the song to a bouncy, swing melody. The elated section surprisingly manages to work with the context of the song due to the fluid transition. Of course this wouldn’t be an Ulver record without grandiose composition and ambiguous deliverance. Sure it could be easy to write this album off as electronica/ambience but there is so much more at play here.
A throwback to gothic style is also present on this album by which classical symphonic elements play a large role in the composition. The unison of said styles provides a very unsettling atmosphere, going from classy 50’s to unpredictable symphonic movements in the blink of an eye. The soundscape of this album is very haunting which Ulver has always been proficient at displaying due to meticulous detailing of the many subtle touches throughout. Take the transition between ‘Your Call’ and ‘Operator’ for example: a haunting violin melody with fast hitting, subtle beats layered over it build up the tension until it transitions abruptly into a clip of what appears to be a phone ringing. The anxiety builds and you begin to wonder the meaning of this phone ringing, still paranoid from the previous passage you wait to see where it is going when suddenly ‘Operator’ comes flying at you like a proverbial well-placed actor in a haunted house. Instead this time around the actor is a chaotic breakdown.
The theme of this album is unclear as the lyrics tend to be varied and vague however looking at the cover, name and some lyrical hints you can assume it is to do with a hospital incident. This album may not produce its message through words but rather utilizes the medium of music to take you through the panic and uncertainty of someone holding onto to dear life and consciousness resulting from an accident. If this makes the album sound dark that is probably because it is. ‘Dressed In Black’ displays a loss of hope, ‘Operator’ a sense of mental panic and desperation. ‘For The Love of God’ appears to be about someone on the edge of giving up. Melancholic, distorted vocals wail “***, ***, ***ing heaven” being nearly the only comprehensible lyrics in the song. The line is topped off preceding a guitar solo clawing in desperation just as much as the supposed character letting loose. The various elements of the song coalesce to paint a perfect picture of the apprehensive soliloquy.
This album is ambiguous and full of intricate layers and influences working to tell a story that is both haunting and mesmerizing. Garm’s beautiful distorted vocals act as outcries of a desperate man hidden pushed in the background of the story that the instrumentation tells. Blood Inside is a lot like the anime Death Note, it is disturbing but interesting. You want to look away but of course the curiosity of ‘what sort of trouble could possibly happen next?’ Arises and brings you back to Blood Inside again.