Music: Ulver

"Ulver is obviously not a black metal band and does not wish to be stigmatized as such. We acknowledge the relation of part I & III of the Trilogie (Bergtatt & Nattens Madrigal) to this culture, but stress that these endeavours were written as stepping stones rather than conclusions. We are proud of our former instincts, but wish to liken our association with said genre to that of the snake with Eve. An incentive to further frolic only. If this discourages you in any way, please have the courtesy to refrain from voicing superficial remarks regarding our music and/or personae. We are as unknown to you as we always were."
Ulver, 1999

Ulver is an experimental Norwegian music group formed in 1993, fronted by Krystoffer Rygg. The band has gone through numerous style changes, so much so that each "major" release is considered to be a different genre altogether, many times defying contemporary classification.

A quick rundown of their major releases:
  • Bergtatt - Et eeventyr i 5 capitler (Black Metal, Folk Metal)
  • Kveldssanger (Neofolk)
  • Nattens madrigal - Aatte hymne til ulven i manden (Raw Black Metal)
  • Themes from William Blake's The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (Industrial, Progressive Metal)
    • Commonly Shortened to "The Blake Album"
  • Perdition City (Trip-Hop, Electronica)
  • Blood Inside (Avant-Garde, Electronica)
  • Shadows of the Sun (Dark Ambient)
    • This release is often mislabeled as being Electronica as well, despite that almost all of the instruments are the real deal (including the strings), and there is very little sampling at all.
  • Wars of the Roses (Avant-Garde, Progressive Rock)
  • Childhood's End (Psychedelic Rock, Cover Album)
  • Messe I.X-VI.X (Modern Classical, Dark Ambient, Progressive Rock, Post-Rock)
  • Terrestrials (collaboration with Sunn O))); Dark Ambient, Drone)

This artist provides examples of:

  • Audio Adaptation: The namesake of The Blake Album is used in its entirety as the lyrics to the album, and the music is derived from its themes.
  • Bilingual Bonus: The first three albums are sung entirely in an archaic form of Danish (note that modern Norwegian evolved from Danish). A track on their remix album, 1st Decade in the Machines, contains a conversation entierly in German. Not to mention their very name is Norwegian for "wolves".
  • Concept Album: Perdition City is meant to be "Music to an Interior Film" (as it says on the cover). The Blake Album as well, see Audio Adaptation above. Bergtatt and Nattens Madrigal are also concept albums.
  • Cover Version: The band covered Black Sabbath's "Solitude" on Shadows of the Sun and Prince's "Thieves" for a tribute album. Furthermore, Childhood's End consists entirely of covers of material from the late sixties, mostly quite obscure (Jefferson Airplane's "Today" is by far the best known song covered).
  • Epic Rocking: Quite a few songs. Perhaps the best examples are "Silence Teaches You How to Sing" from the EP of the same name, "Ulvsblakk" from Kveldssanger, "Proverbs of Hell, Plates 7-10" and "A Memorable Fancy, Plates 17-20" from the Blake album, "Providence" and "Stone Angels" from Wars of the Roses, most of Bergtatt, and about half of Perdition City and Messe I.X-VI.X. Terrestrials consists of this too, although not so much the rocking part.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Nattens Madrigal's full title translates to "The Madrigal Of The Night - Eight Hymns To The Wolf In Man", and its eight songs, numbered "Hymn I" through "Hymn VIII", in a Concept Album about... well...
  • Genre Shift: As demonstrated above.
  • Limited Special Collector's Ultimate Edition: There have been two versions of this for the band's "black metal Trilogie". One, released in 1997, was called The Trilogie: Three Journeyes Through the Norwegian Netherworlde, which was a box set with three picture LPs and a bunch of Feelies. The second, released in 2014, was called Trolsk Sortmetall 1993-1997 and included either five CDs or four LPs and a cassette along with the requisite Feelies, which were different this time around (also, unlike The Trilogie, this included the band's demo Vargnatt and a rehearsal of four Nattens Madrigal tracks). The material was also remastered for Trolsk Sortmetall.
  • Loudness War: Nattens Madrigal has a ReplayGain value of -16.22 dB, which indicates a gigantic amount of volume compression (especially considering that there are probably five minutes' worth of ambient passages between the tracks dragging the values down somewhat). This was likely a deliberate aesthetic choice to make the album's production even colder. To their credit, the band took care to avoid any clipping when mastering it, and the remainder of their records are mastered at more reasonable levels (although, inexplicably, Blood Inside actually does clip in some parts). Fortunately, Nattens Madrigal was recently reissued on vinyl. It was also released on vinyl in the late 90s as part of The trilogie box set, but good luck finding a copy at a reasonable price - they go for more than $200 on eBay and Discogs.
    • The remaster of Nattens on Trolsk Sortmetall averts this; it's over six decibels quieter and comes in at DR7 instead of DR3. Unfortunately, the version of Bergtatt on the same release is louder than the original. The vinyl editions, as is usual with Century Media, are more dynamic and were likely given separate masters, with all albums in the set falling in the DR10-DR12 range.
  • Miniscule Rocking: "Ord" from Kveldssanger is a mere 18 seconds long. Some of the other songs are pretty short as well.
  • Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Anywhere from a 1 to an 11.
  • New Sound Album: Basically, all of them.
  • Nobody Loves the Bassist: The bass is nearly inaudible on the original version of Nattens madrigal. The remaster included with Trolsk Sortmetall fixes this, as well as the Loudness War issues.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: The subject of Nattens madrigal, if the subtitle didn't make that obvious.
  • Precision F-Strike: In "For the Love of God" and "Norwegian Gothic".
  • Rearrange the Song: They were planning to make an orchestral version of Nattens Madrigal, but Garm revealed about ten years back that the project "is in a state of total dormancy" and little has been heard since.
  • Rock Me, Asmodeus!: Played somewhat straight on Nattens Madrigal. Mostly averted apart from that.
  • Sampling
  • Soprano and Gravel: Demonstrated in "Your Call", a good deal of The Blake Album, and several songs on Bergtatt.
  • Urban Legend: The reason why Nattens Madrigal is so underproduced is either because they recorded the album in the woods at night or because they stole all the money their label gave them to buy Armani suits, cocaine and a new car. Word of God dismissed the former as impossible but said the band did have rather expensive tastes when asked about the latter, though they also denied buying a new car, saying there wasn't enough money.