Ulver
The Assassination of Julius Caesar


4.3
superb

Review

by TalonsOfFire STAFF
April 6th, 2017 | 972 replies


Release Date: 2017 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Ulver goes pop? – And to no surprise for those familiar with these “wolves from Norway,” it sounds nothing like you would expect.

You can never know what to expect from Ulver. The band, or “experimental collective,” are so intent on never stagnating that genre changes and record label-hopping are regular activities between album cycles. Is this an unwise strategy for maintaining and growing a consistent, loyal fanbase" The answer is probably yes, but this is of no concern to Ulver. People who can handle the fleeting explorations of ambient, electronica, neoclassical, and other genres can appreciate the surprise of new material from Ulver, and they’ve been fervently creating music going on twenty-five years now. Leaving the success of revolutionizing both black metal and folk music in the late 1990’s was the right decision for them, and continuing the same effort of escape from a concrete identity is just as important so many years later.

They may have finally settled however, at least for a while. The Assassination of Julius Caesar is their third album in just two years, and on the same record label. It has also been dubbed by the group themselves as their “pop” album, though it can hardly be considered as much in the context of modern music. Song lengths can progress towards the ten minute mark, and the group’s always engrossing atmosphere is in full effect. The largely ambient, abstract sounds of recent albums like the excellent Messe I.X-VI.X are now evolved into more percussive and visceral territory. The Assassination of Julius Caesar sees Ulver delving into electro-pop epics and gothic elegies for a resounding meditation on the dark side of history, mythology, and human nature.

Unlike the largely instrumental nature and soundscapes of so much recent music from Ulver, The Assassination… is among their denser and more vocal albums. The consistent presence of Kristoffer “Garm” Rygg’s vocals is more than a welcome return after such a long absence. Images of mystical visions and epic battles alike are shown to the listener by Garm’s excellent singing and lyrics. His singing has highlighted albums like Blood Inside, Shadows of the Sun, and Wars of the Roses, becoming infrequent in recent years until now. His voice suits the more accessible style of Assassination… in the way that it made their hit songs “Nowhere/Catastrophe” and “February MMX” such successes. He shines especially on album highlight “Angelus Novus,” and the addition of female vocals in a few tracks add even more dimension to the epic “Rolling Stone” and theatrical “1969.”

These further evolutions for the musically shape-shifting collective makes for a highly focused and engrossing listen. Tracks will change and surprise you frequently, like the slow dirge of “So Falls the World” transitioning to an IDM section for an enchanting outro, flowing right into the urgency of “Southern Gothic.” Despite these genre shifts, the hypnotic ebb and flow from Ulver’s mind-bending ambient side is still felt here. Dark synth passages vaguely recall some moments from masterpiece Perdition City and the absorbing ATGCLVLSSCAP, but this remains another impressive watershed in their discography. The Assassination of Julius Caesar is an embodiment of their musical identity: the frequent state of flux that makes their music so interesting to get lost in, no matter what styles are being explored. They are masters of atmosphere and intrigue, and flirting with pop music has only further aided their chameleonic nature, with this being their most satisfying and diverse effort in many years.



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user ratings (457)
Chart.
3.9
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donovan909 (4.5)
Talk Talk, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, and Ulver all hanging out under the electric stars......


Comments:Add a Comment 
TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
April 5th 2017


16938 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3 | Sound Off

Opening track "Nemoralia:"



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wq0Kb4bFNzg&t=0s

Digging: Tom Rogerson with Brian Eno - Finding Shore

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
April 5th 2017


39515 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

POOR LITTLE SISTER I HOPE YOU UNDERSTAND

Digging: Glassjaw - Material Control

JohnnyOnTheSpot
Staff Reviewer
April 5th 2017


6446 Comments


better 1 this so as to circumvent a Best New Music blessing
edit: too slow to the punch

TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
April 5th 2017


16938 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3 | Sound Off

Thanks to Rowan for proofreading



I don't know budgie, all I got was promos



lol Johnny

Xenophanes
Staff Reviewer
April 5th 2017


901 Comments

Album Rating: 2.7 | Sound Off

Idk I don't really like this that much

Digging: Blood Cultures - Happy Birthday

TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
April 5th 2017


16938 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3 | Sound Off

Xeno I'd say give it another try, this grew on me a lot each time I listened

BallsToTheWall
April 5th 2017


48193 Comments


This review is word porn.

Digging: CZARFACE - Every Hero Needs a Villain

JohnnyOnTheSpot
Staff Reviewer
April 5th 2017


6446 Comments


we'll see about that

BigPleb
April 5th 2017


51632 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

HYPE HYPE HYPE OMGGGGGG

TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
April 5th 2017


16938 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3 | Sound Off

I'm just a descriptive guy.



If anything this is probably the most fanboyish review I've written, but no regrets.

kingdedethefifth
April 5th 2017


4655 Comments


Would this be a bad place to start with Ulver? Never listened to them outside of a couple tracks but I remember them being pretty solid.

Xenophanes
Staff Reviewer
April 5th 2017


901 Comments

Album Rating: 2.7 | Sound Off

I've been listening to it a lot and it's super catching, but little things like the way-too-on-the-nose lyrics of "1969" turn me off.

TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
April 5th 2017


16938 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3 | Sound Off

If you're an electronica/trip hop guy then this or Perdition City would be best. If you're looking for their black metal/folk records, that's their first few, mid-90s albums. Their others are mostly ambient and avant-garde. They're pretty all over the place in terms of genres.

BallsToTheWall
April 5th 2017


48193 Comments


Shit man, just jam their Prince cover of Thieves in the Temple and let Ulver seduce you into checking out their other stuff.

TVC15
April 5th 2017


8985 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

HYPE

Digging: Alkaline Trio - Alkaline Trio

TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
April 5th 2017


16938 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3 | Sound Off

but Xeno 1969 is amazing because of that singing interplay between Garm and the guest singer



Nice mention about that Thieves in the Temple cover song they did, not many know about it.

Willie
Moderator
April 5th 2017


17312 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

I'm not a huge Ulver fan. There are a handful of their releases that I actually like and the rest are pretty damn boring. Having said that, this one is potentially one of my favorites. Up there with their debut as one of the best Ulver releases.

budgie
April 5th 2017


3731 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

HYPE

TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
April 5th 2017


16938 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3 | Sound Off

wow that ratings page. Staff power unite

BallsToTheWall
April 5th 2017


48193 Comments


HYPE (2)



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