Ulver
Kveldssanger


4.0
excellent

Review

by Ben Kuettel STAFF
December 30th, 2015 | 45 replies


Release Date: 1996 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A beautiful, revolutionary dark folk record that embodies the first major display of the more contemplative and haunting side of Ulver.

There is no band quite like Ulver, seemingly exploring every musical style imaginable in their 20+ year career. With bands like this, humble beginnings are an interesting starting point in seeing how they tread the musical paths that they end up exploring. Ulver's origins revolve around folk and black metal, emphasizing beauty, atmosphere, folklore, and other such themes. With full-length debut Bergtatt in 1995, the young musicians established a masterful combination of black metal and folk, one that the Norwegian metal scene had never seen before. Nattens Madrigal, their third release, would contain almost no folk elements in favor of a lo-fi, beautifully pure black metal aesthetic. Sandwiched between the two is an entirely dark folk outing full of mysterious, meditative acoustic guitar melodies, tranquil flutes, and bellowing Norwegian chants. Ulver would go on to transform into a wholly different beast after this “Black Metal Trilogy,” with rampant experimentation outside the boundaries of only metal or folk. Kveldssanger is their first release with no black metal elements, containing nary a distorted guitar riff or shrieking vocals of any sort, standing as a deceptively easy listen. Written and recorded when the band members were still teenagers, Ulver unknowingly created an original, game changing record for metal and folk alike. The thoughtful, yet straightforward acoustic arrangements and dark atmospheres bring together a truly magical and epic feel, in a way that only Ulver could.

One quality that makes Kveldssanger such a gripping listen is the vocals. Kristoffer "Garm" Rygg chants, bellows, and croons throughout, even layering his voice at times for a haunting echoing effect. This allows for unique harmonies to juxtapose with the strings, the reverberating chants working beautifully with the melancholic twin guitar melodies within “Utreise", before dropping out and letting the guitars march along to the end. These almost Gregorian chants are a major strength of Kveldssanger, though much of the album is without vocals. Many of the solely instrumental pieces are album highlights, such as the adventurous “Kveldssang” and the more optimistic “Søfn-ør paa Alfers Lund.” The standout however would be album closer “Ulvsblakk.” Climbing guitar melodies and stomping percussion begin alongside the powerful and urgent vocals of Garm to set the mood. It then gives way to more haunting, contemplative acoustic guitars reminiscent of earlier melodies in the album, percussion and vocals drifting in and out for one of the most adventurous songs Ulver ever recorded.

The magical feel of Ulver’s early material comes about in many different forms and musical styles of its formative years. The lead instrumentation is sparse, being mainly composed of acoustic guitars and sometimes a cello. The sparse uses of the flute form a particularly strong highlight of Kveldssanger, rarely coming up again in the vast Ulver catalogue. It’s difficult to imagine songs like “Østenfor Sol og vestenfor Maane" and “Naturmystikk" having the same impact without their brief, beautiful interplays of flute and guitars weaving together magical sounds of Norwegian folklore in truly original and dynamic ways. While some songs feel a bit too underdeveloped or amateurish, it hardly takes away from the enjoyment when everything remains so compositionally focused, and at times even hypnotic. It is as a whole straightforward, with understated, yet superb musicianship throughout. It is clear the band was going more for setting a tranquil, melancholic atmosphere here than the far-reaching experimentation of later releases, and in this way succeeds massively. There are plenty of bands out there that try something new with each release, with no musical act embodying that quality quite like Ulver. Before dabbling in classical music, electronic, ambient, or avant-garde, it’s easy to forget that they began as one of the best and most influential bands of the 1990s Norwegian folk and black metal scene.

The experimentation Ulver has always explored is indeed present within Kveldssanger, though remains perhaps the most digestible release of the band’s massive discography. Being sandwiched between two metal masterpieces, Kveldssanger is a rewarding listen for anyone willing to explore an early display of the band’s numerous musical styles, being simultaneously rewarding, haunting, and intriguing altogether.



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user ratings (736)
Chart.
3.9
excellent
other reviews of this album
B R A N D O N S C O T T CONTRIBUTOR (5)
...

Steven Moore (4)
A beutiful Norse folk album from the dudes in Ulver....

Per Ardua Ad Astra (4)
...


Comments:Add a Comment 
TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
December 30th 2015


16473 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3

I thought this needed a professional review despite liking the others that have been written for it. Thanks to manosg for proofreading.

Digging: Toby Driver - Live at Roulette, March 2017

Rastapunk
December 30th 2015


1273 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I do liek the layout and the rev is very well written but what makes it professional and not the others? I just read B R A N D O N S C O T T's rev, loved it!

manosg
Staff Reviewer
December 30th 2015


10482 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Brandon's review was one of the reasons I checked the album in the first place.



Anyway, sweet rev Talons, pos.

Digging: Ruler - Rise to Power

TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
December 30th 2015


16473 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3

Agreed his is great, professional is the wrong word I just meant a more traditional one that gives you info on the music, band etc.

Hawks
December 30th 2015


50733 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Sweet review buddy, pos'd hard.

Digging: Astronoid - Air

ZippaThaRippa
December 30th 2015


10200 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Great review, like your style. Also a great album, my favorite of the trilogy.

johnnydeking29
December 30th 2015


11411 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Solid review, pos'd. I've always found this pretty overrated; it's pretty but not very cohesive or substantial. Nattleite has a fantastic atmosphere though



TheSonomaDude
December 30th 2015


5450 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

The opener is magnificent

Ocean of Noise
December 30th 2015


9728 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

I love this album. Might bump my rating, honestly.

Digging: Thursday - Full Collapse

jtswope
December 30th 2015


5601 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Good album yeah. Nice review.

Rastapunk
December 30th 2015


1273 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Gotcha TalonsOnFire. Pos'd by the way

deslad
December 30th 2015


596 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Amazing album and great review.

Digging: Fenton Robinson - Somebody Loan Me A Dime

MistaCrave
December 30th 2015


2470 Comments


Review rules dude. Love this album

Mongi123
Contributing Reviewer
December 30th 2015


18848 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Awesome review brother. Have a much deserved pos!



"While some songs feel a bit too underdeveloped or amateurish"



Agreed, this is my main gripe with this. But it's a great listen every now and then.

Sunnyvale
December 31st 2015


695 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Sweet review for an awesome album.

TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
December 31st 2015


16473 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3

Thanks for the kind words everyone, opener and closer on here are my highlights. This might be my most listened to Ulver, it's great studying music.

TheSpirit
Contributing Reviewer
January 2nd 2016


21850 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Never thought I would come to another person's review and see one of my reviews being praised, so thank you all for that.





I think this is an excellent review Talons. I (obviously) find this album to be perfect. I don't find any of amateurish, but some of it reflecting youthful exuberance which I love. Either way, you did a great job here, so pos.

Digging: Grinning Death's Head - Blood War

TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
January 3rd 2016


16473 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3

Thanks dude, and I agree about hearing their youth in this album. surrounding two as well, which is a strong and weak point for me. The fact that they wrote this trilogy at such young ages is amazing, but I feel that some of the shorter songs on here should've been expanded and could have been even better, especially given how short the whole album is.

bnelso55
January 4th 2016


1250 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

One of my favorite Ulver albums. Nice review! I'll echo TheSpirit's thought about youthful exuberance. I definitely hear that here, and it bolsters the album's charm for me.

TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
January 4th 2016


16473 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3

Agreed, it does add to the album's charm in many places.



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