Review Summary: Nattens Madrigal is the definition of cliche black metal. With all the traits that make up the genre it would seem hard to enjoy. Somehow though this album is pleasing in a way that i hard to describe with words.
If any of you are familiar with the website uncyclopedia.com you most likely know it is a site similar to Wikipedia, but instead of providing facts, everything gets made fun of. When I am bored I often spend time on there laughing about the jokes made about the 568 some slipknot drummers, but one day I decided to search black metal. After chuckling at some of the silly jokes that were made I scrolled down to the “how to make a black metal album” section. Some of the steps were as followed: think of the most simple guitar riff and play it over and over at a fast pace, record everything on your dads barely working tape recorder, blast the drums as fast as possible over and over again, and so on. Although all of these steps seemed like they were cherry picked features from other black metal albums, it all made me think of Ulvers third release Nattens Madrigal
Now if you have heard Nattens Madrigal
you are probably aware it is one of the most stereotypical black metal albums ever released. In fact tales exist that the band members used the money from the record company on beer. After doing so recorded this album in the woods. Reasons for these rumors are understandable, because everything is recorded under some of the worst production quality in music history. The guitar tone has quite the buzz and drums are barely audible despite being able to hear the constant bleating of the snare. Garms vocals are always the usual high screech. In addition the entire album never lightens up accept a short acoustic break in the first track. So with all of these setbacks present, how could this possibly be an enjoyable album?
It would seem after all the noise you need to cut through in black metal, through all the bands that have made the bare bones noisy black metal, Ulver finally got it right. To start out with this album has an atmosphere to it like no other. The horrid production give this album a sort of melodic and chilling feel. Behind all the distortion in the guitar there is often a tremolo picked line that seems to hold everything together, not letting everything go to hell. For songs like “Hymn 7” are all raw and brutal on the outside, but after closer examination there is an epiphany of light.
Light is not exactly the word that firsts come to your mind whilst thinking about raw black metal is it? Although Nattens Madrigal
never gives you much of a break from the chaos, despite some of the songs having strange noise breaks, there is something more enjoyable and pleasing that you cannot find anywhere else. This notion is hard to describe, and is one that must be heard to understand. Garms vocals also are a shed of light on this album, even though they are always the harsh scream there is something that separates them from others in the genre. Instead of being simply aggressive and treacherous, they convey heavy amounts of emotion and fit the music perfectly.
There is no amount of bass action in this album, if bass is present whatsoever it is covered up by the other instruments and vocals. Drum work on this album is really fast, all the time. Like a good deal of black metal blast beats are utilized throughout the entirety of this album, quite skillfully and in time. Lycanthropy is the theme that wraps up this album in a story of a man and a dark power that forces him to give into the beast inside. Although you cannot understand the lyrics when they are sung, reading them proves to be quite interesting as they all fit together and are brilliantly written.
in all honesty should not be an enjoyable or pleasing album. After all this album practically defines cliche black metal. With the catastrophic production and little variation in song structure it should be extremely hard to enjoy. Reasons for this being a great album are hard to describe, something that Ulver did made this album beautiful. Whether it was the production styling, the guitar lines or the vocals Nattens Madrigal is a fantastic record.
what was good about this album
+The indescribable feeling everything has
+Ulver pulled off stereotypical black metal, but added so much more
+Solid drum work
what was bad about this album
-The outright horrid production
-There is not much of a break from the chaos
-Only enjoyable in small doses
-Nearly impossible for some people to get into
Final Rating 4/5