Review Summary: Warmth and Chills Collide
Ulvesang classify themselves as a blend of acoustic, ambient, atmospheric, black, neofolk, neoclassical, and even metal. They are a three piece instrumental acoustic guitar group who are inspired by spiritualism, paganism, nature, and melancholy. Multiple layers of acoustic guitars build a dynamic whole, with subtle drones and chants adding to the already immense atmosphere. Ulvesang has created a chilling debut album.
The music is thoroughly alive. Parts don't simply float in and out of nothingness. Rich, interwoven guitar lines flow smoothly from one satisfying section to the next, and not without harmonic surprises along the way. Repetition and simple overall chord structure is, of course, still an essential tool here; but subtle nuances, superb note choice, and consistently endearing motifs enthrall the listener as these repetitions gradually unfold. Often, right when a section looks to have been played out, another begins that is even more satisfying than anything in the song beforehand. Imperfections of fret noise, string slides, and buzzing are often emphasized while still feeling impromptu. It's the combination of raw performance and refined composition that make this album feel real and satisfying. Harmonically, sorrow and joy are equally balanced, encapsulating the beauty of life as well as its hardship.
One of the most impressive features here is the consistent quality throughout all eight tracks and their ability to create a cohesive album. The Purge
and Arms in Pledge to Ellis
begin and end the album respectively, and both songs pack an extra punch of large strummed chords and raised vocal dynamics. Taakeferd
allows one to bask in little more than acoustic guitars, while Two Rivers
adds a deep drone to the proceedings. Furthermore, the next track, Wolf's Passage
has moving chant lines. The first portion of the record is brighter. Starting with A Town of Ash
, relatively more focus is given to the deep, earthy tones. The utter loveliness of numerous sections, effective atmospherics, and interplay of the guitars make this work shine. The songs each have uniquely emotive moments that are extremely effective and yet unique to that track. Ulvesang has created an album that is simply pleasing and also rich enough for numerous listens.