Review Summary: Melodic death/doom metal debut which covers a lot of ground
No, Ulver didn’t put out another surprise release, these guys just didn’t pick the most fortunate band name and font. This is the debut release by Ulfven, a melodic death/doom metal band formed in 2017 in Härnösand, Sweden. It reportedly is based on mythological creatures in Scandinavian folklore, hence the title, and it’s a very enjoyable listen!
Over the course of its three-quarters of an hour runtime these Swedes cover a lot of ground. From doomy riffs that feature heavily in the first tracks, to acoustic passages and even some Viking-choirs chanting in the distance in Elegy For A Child), many metal subgenres are blended nicely into one, without ever losing the record’s sense of coherence.
Nocturnal Watcher features tastefully done melodic harmonies, a bell tolling in the distance and is every bit as atmospheric as this sounds. The Keeper’s Hymn takes a beautiful, melodic riff and spreads it out across a nice, extended end section. The fast and furious riffs at the start of The Black Waters feature some effective drum pounding and Ihsahn-like guitar wails, after which it slows down to a melodic close.
After a while, the doomy drone that is used on many of the tracks can get a little samey, but the music is stopped from being flat out boring because of some nicely worked in acoustic passages or a change of speed. Further improving the sense of diversity, the band uses two different lead vocalists, one with a deep, guttural death metal style, while the other has higher and harsher wail.
Beyond The Pines is a good example of how diverse the record can be. It seamlessly transitions from its slower doom riff into a full-fledged blast beat section, after which it falls back into its earlier heavy groove, to slowly fade out with a beautiful but short solo and a moody acoustic conclusion. Moments like these are where this record’s strength truly shows. They even call the glory days of those other melodeath-Swedes to mind.
All in all this record brings a lot for fans of many different metal genres. Now let’s hope they find a way to physically release this record.