Review Summary: Of angels and black metal
Bergtatt is a monumental black metal album. Although the days of Garm’s screams may be gone at least we have this piece in remembrance. Ulver abandoning their black metal roots in 1998 moved onto to electronica, a choice controversial. However it may be best that Ulver made this move because deep down the band probably knew it would never be able to top their black metal game like they had on here.
The atmosphere on this album is incredible, the guitar shreds but does so in such a humble way that it never feels like showing off. This may be metal, but it is meticulous metal, no riff is out of place, every note exists for a reason and it is because of this precise planning that Bergtatt succeeds as one of the greatest masterpieces of our generation.
The production on this is rather clean, which is unusual for a black metal record but of course this isn’t your average black metal record now is it? The riffs are very hard hitting but at the same time show great constraint it almost feels as if there are several albums condensed among the riffs to form the beautiful soundscape found within Bergtatt.
Never have people been able to capture the experience of running through the dark woods as this album has. Many black metal albums out there definitely try to capture a sound alike a forest theme but none can succeed in the way this album does. This believability exists because the album flows perfectly, it feels very natural and the motions of the instruments all blend together to make a genuine experience.
Of course you couldn’t have a hardy discussion of Bergtatt without mentioning the vocals. Garm’s vocals are possibly some of the best around in this modern era. Surprisingly and thankfully the band doesn’t lose sight of the goal at hand and copout on producing a ‘Garm show’. His vocals are quite odd, although Norwegian, it does not matter because his voice is so beautiful, and emotion filled that without even understanding a word you feel like it is relating to you. His vocals consist of a almost choir sounding chant, that is haunting and fits the scenery perfectly. These angelic vocals also have no problem blending with the crazy black metal riffage. There is no conflict here, you would think these things are oranges and apples but let me tell you they are more like bong and green. Just as you are lulling into a trance at the chant like vocals you are taken aback by the sudden screams which Garm can also excellently pull of leaving one satisfying experience at the plate.
Overall this album is a masterpiece because without even uttering a word of English it can manage to captivate any audience with its slick riffs, grandiose soundscape and beautiful vocals. This album is very atypical and captures the scenery in a sense that the rough production and harsh approach most black metal bands can only dream of.