Wednesday, 3 February 2016


(January 22nd, 2016, House of Mythology)   

It’s been awhile since Ulver were a fantastic band. Back then, everything they touched turned to gold. Black metal? No problem. Neofolk? Yeah, sure. Trip hop? Done! But after 2007 something broke. Album Shadows of the Sun was last REALLY great material written by Ulver. Everything after that... well... Wars of Roses was a bad album, not just in Ulver’s discography, but overall. Messe from 2013 was quite boring. Meanwhile they released a pretty good psychedelic cover album and a decent live album, but seriously, nobody really cared. You can’t go back to form with cover album and live album, because they don’t show your composition skill. Yeah, something broke. And many blame Daniel O'Sullivan. He came to Ulver after Shadows of the Sun, so there was something suspicious about it...

   Why do I say that? To show how small my expectations were. I didn’t care about new Ulver at all. But when I heard it... I was a little surprised. New album isn’t a continuation of Wars of the Roses, it’s closer to Shadows of the Sun or Messe (but without the boring parts). It’s very ambiental, full of cinematic moments and definitely better than everything since Shadows of the Sun. As a fan of Can, I also appreciate the krautrock feel of the album. You can hear passion and ideas behind this release and it doesn’t seem so “forced” as previous ones. Hard to not feel the atmosphere of “old” Ulver releases... especially because band wanted to remind us of these by remixing some of old songs. "Nowhere (Sweet Sixteen)" is more mellowed down version of "Nowhere/Catastrophy" from Perdition City, "Glammer Hammer" is much better version of one of the songs from Wars of the Roses... I’m sure there are more of these, but I didn’t catch other reference.  I’m bad at that.

   New album is soothing, full of primal trance and very pleasant. But to be honest, I do hear some unnecessary things. "Om Hanumate Namah" and "Ecclesiastes" are somewhat ruining the atmosphere. Compared to other songs, these are pretty mediocre. I mentioned ealier "Nowhere"  and I think this version isn’t as near as good as the original from Perdition City. Also, in my opinion, a vocal track in album like this doesn’t have much purpose. To be frank, second half of the album feels much worse than the first one. Of course, there are some great tracks, like "D-Day Drone" or "Desert/Dawn", but overall, it doesn’t impress and is more forgettable than first half.
   It's still a quite nice album. I wouldn't call it "the return of Ulver" because it still isn't good as their best works, but at least this one is the best in the last ten years. I hope by the next release they will improve their sound more and we will get even a better album. But for now, ATGCLVLSSCAP is still enjoyable.

- Tomek

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