Ulver - Kveldssanger
This album is the second in a trilogy which are often lumped unceremoniously together, largely on account of the fact that the lyrics are all in a form of medieval Danish current in the band's native Norway during its occupation by the former. What is perhaps most remarkable about this album is that the band actually attempted to do something like this at all. Now the frontman of the band and the creative force behind it, Garm, was only nineteen when this album came out, which made it all the remarkable. At a time when some other idiots of the Norwegian black metal scene were growling their way into pseudo-Satanism and burning historic stave churches, Garm delivered an album which is so far away from black metal that it can hardly be regarded as anything of the sort.
There are basically three types of track on this album. There are a number of music and vocal tracks of which "Ulvsblakk" is undoubtedly the highlight. The there are the pure instrumentals which, I have to say, get a little bit wearing. Then there is the very occasional chant only track - "Ord" ("Word" being the obvious one). The links with the previous album, Bergtatt, are clear and indeed in some ways this is a logical progression from it, relying on the same sort of folk-ish theme but this time dispensing with all the stereotypical black metal sounds. Whether this represents a throwback to early Norwegian folk of the Viking era is questionable - no one really know what their music sounded like but in lyrical terms it is not. Vikings, like other early Germanic peoples, used alliteration for a rhythmic rhyme in a series of highly structured forms. Kveldssanger is more ‘conventional' in that regard using modern rhymes.
However, despite these somewhat churlish observations, the point is that it was either a step of incredible musical bravery or a display of unimaginable hubris from a teenage kid, to produce a second album which essentially dispensed with almost everything which might be considered black metal. Which of those options you prefer may well influence how you view this album, but there can be no doubt that it is sparkling in its originality, and provided a basis for others to copy in future, notably Agalloch.
It took me several listens before I could begin to appreciate this. It sounds at times like it was recorded in a field, and has a quality which is similar to later black metal albums where this has been tried. I still don't find it as good as Bergtatt. The time when it most impressed me was the listening to it upstairs on a dark and windy night. Then it resonated to a degree which it did not sitting on a tube watching the faces of the bored and listless travellers on their way to work. Still, I would recommend that people do give this their best shot. It will reward you but it takes some effort.
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on 2011-05-09 CharlesMartel Said:
Sometimes seen as the odd one out from Ulver's trilogy of debut albums, this took metal in a completely different direction, something which bands like Agalloch would follow.