Ulver
Bergtatt - Et eeventyr i 5 capitler


3.0
good

Review

by Spaten USER (8 Reviews)
May 19th, 2015 | 26 replies


Release Date: 1995 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Easy listening Black Metal

In 1995, after most of the original Black Metal bands had already defined the genre and reached their creative peaks, Ulver tried to offer a somewhat different vision of Black Metal with a folky spin. The inclusion of folk elements wasn't exaclty a new idea, although they had never been as dominant and obvious as on this offering. This folk influence manifests both in their utilization of acoustic instruments and occasional reliance on clean vocals as well as their choice of melody. All of this results in a rather soothing listening experience for a Black Metal record, that ultimately fails to communicate its ideas in a coherent fashion.

On a purely superficial level, Ulver did a lot of things right. The production on this record is stellar, offering clarity as well as an atmospheric, roomly distant sound. The musicianship is thoroughly solid, although not particularly showy or self-idulgent. This allows the melodic guitar playing and singing to really shine and conjure up some beautiful images inspired by nature and ancient pagan life. The mellow sections are in contrast to the more aggressive segments, which are typically underlined by blast beats and raspy vocals, that are somewhat reminiscent Darkthrone. The same can be said for the riffing style, which appears to be inspired by Transilvanian Hunger in how it utilizes tremolo picked, harmonized minor key melodies and consequent repition. The imagery of nature and ancient nordic life had already been stylized by other bands, predominantly by Enslaved, who also used folk-inspired melody and keyboards as a substitute for actual acoustic instruments. But where Enslaved and Darkthrone created not only distinctive, but also highly cohesive music, Ulver merely managed to package these elements into an album that is pleasant on the surface, but vacuous and disjointed in essence.

When the music abruptly goes from mellow and peaceful sections to fast and violent parts or vice-versa, it often appears as if these contrasts only exist for their own sake, as there is usually little to no connection between said parts and the placement of these shifts often seems rather arbitrary. It does not come as a surprise that the best track on here is probably the first one, since it avoids these stark contrasts in favour of a more unified approach, with its soothing melodies and beautiful guitar solos. While individual parts in most of the other songs are still well written, they don't add up to be anything more than merely their sum. Contrary to the best of Black Metal, which usually had some kind of underlying musical narrative, Bergtatt ends up sounding like more of a sound collage and that is its failure. At the end of the day it is an easily digestible Black Metal record with a sense of beauty and an apparent lack of organization.

As such, this is decent background music and might perhaps serve as a gateway album into Black Metal for some people, although it obviously does not offer a very accurate representation of the genre, neither aesthetically nor ideologically. It is, however, immediately enjoyable, while a lot of other Black Metal classics need a bit of time until you can truly appreciate them. That is probably also the reason for Bergtatt's ongoing popularity: immediate, superficial appeal rather than exceptional composition.



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user ratings (1919)
4.4
superb
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Spaten
May 19th 2015


235 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I haven't written any longer texts in English in a long time, so I did this as a bit of writing practice. If you find any mistakes, please point them out.

elcrawfodor
May 19th 2015


1267 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Well written, but I disagree. I find the "harsh" moments in this album to be fairly beautiful too and the album works wonderfully as a whole though. Agreed that its popularity might stem from its accessibility, but it's too damn beautiful as a whole to dismiss it as simply that.

TalonsOfFire
Emeritus
May 19th 2015


20969 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

^what he said

argonaut
May 19th 2015


818 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Good review, although I disagree with at least some of your points. This is definitely one of my favorite all-time albums. No denying that it's accessible by black metal standards though.

VisionsFromTheDarkSide
May 19th 2015


2440 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Pretty damn good for a first review

Cygnatti
May 19th 2015


36036 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

boo boo

Cygnatti
May 19th 2015


36036 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Easy listening Black Metal
have you even heard the mantle?

Spaten
May 19th 2015


235 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I find the "harsh" moments in this album to be fairly beautiful too




This is true for the most part, I could've been a bit more precise with my wording. The aggression comes mostly from the drumming and the vocals, but at its core (i.e. the guitar playing) the music still retains its sense of beauty even in the more violent sections. Even though that's the case, it is the very loose connection between the 'aggressive' parts and the acoustic parts that bothers me.





InFlamesWeThrash666
May 19th 2015


10560 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Nope.

Spaten
May 19th 2015


235 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Lol this is not background music that statement is completely illogical.




Background music in the sense that I wouldn't want to give it my undivided attention. I could see myself listening to this while doing something else, though, precisely because of its superficially pleasing nature. When I listen to my favourite music on the other hand, I have absolutely no problem doing nothing at all while listening.

Spaten
May 19th 2015


235 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

The first couple of times I listened to this, I gave it my full attention. Had I rated this album after my first listen I actually would've given it a 4 at least to be honest. It just got less interesting with every subsequent listen.



My ratings are largely outdated. It's funny that you mention Dol Goldur, because I just recently listened to that album again after a long time and it has become one of my favourites since. It's more like 4.5 now.

Cygnatti
May 19th 2015


36036 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

does this have keyboards and shit?
only way this could get even better tbh



KILL
May 19th 2015


81580 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

damn

Cygnatti
May 19th 2015


36036 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

why stop tho? they have like no bad albums. :/

Confucius
May 19th 2015


505 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

lol

linguist2011
May 19th 2015


2656 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Couple of things:



"The mellow sections are in contrast to the more aggressive segments"



Not sure what you meant by this.



"with its soothing melodies and beatiful guitar solos"



*beautiful*



Aside from those, this is a very well-written review, though I obviously disagree with the rating. This is up to now the only album I've listened to by Ulver but it's hard to imagine if any other album the band did would surpass the quality here. To each their own anyway.

Spaten
May 19th 2015


235 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Thanks.



Not sure what you meant by this.




What I meant to express is that most of the songs have very mellow (acoustic guitar, clean singing) and aggressive parts (tremolo picked, distorted guitar, blast beats and raspy vocals). This creates strong contrasts between different parts of the songs, especially considering that oftentimes these contrasting parts directly follow one another without a proper, smooth transition. This can work if it is done well and not arbitrarily, but in case of this album it often doesn't in my opinion.

TheSonomaDude
May 20th 2015


9077 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

whoa whoa WHOAAA simmer down bertha

TheSonomaDude
May 20th 2015


9077 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Also easy listening BM is The Mantle

AnimalsAsSummit
May 20th 2015


6174 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this album is practically the greatest bm ive ever heard



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