Ulver - War Of The Roses

Since shedding his black metal skin in the mid ’90s, Ulver’s central force Kristoffer “Garm” Rygg has continually steered his band’s sound into more expansive, uncompromising territories — a la the William Blake double CD, interior drum and bass soundtracks, Blood Inside’s Bach on jazz, the Pink Floyd, Prince, Dead Can Dance, Sabbath, and Electric Prunes covers, etc. On the band’s beautifully chilly eighth studio album, the followup to 2007′s brilliant chamber music-inspired Shadows Of The Sun, he offers a new wrinkle: War Of The Roses is the Norwegian mainstay’s most accessible “rock ’n’ roll” album to date. At least at first blush. You might have heard the Doves-like/Foo Fighter-esqueFebruary MMX.” That’s as rock as things get here, but the rest of the record does goes down as smoothly. Of course, this is Ulver, so the more you listen, the more certain complexities surface. The textures are deep and strange. The focus and sharpness intense. The mood unrelenting (even if gently so). The cast of players includes experimental guitarist Stian Westerhus, Mayhem’s Sunn cohort Attila Csihar, onetime Coil member Stephen Thrower, British free improv dudes Steve Noble and Alex Ward, etc. You get electronics and programming along with piano, clarinet, violin, lap steel, bowed guitar, a variety of percussion (tambourine included), and an “overarching Britannia-fetish,” etc. With that in mind, take a listen to “England.” Then listen again.

War Of The Roses:

01 “February MMX” (4:11)
02 “Norwegian Gothic” (3:37)
03 “Providence” (8:10)
04 “September IV” (4:39)
05 “England” (4:09)
06 “Island” (5:47)
07 “Stone Angels” (14:56)

War Of The Roses is out via Kscope. It was mixed by John Fryer (Depeche Mode, Cocteau Twins, Swans).

Ulver 2011

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Comments (1)
  1. Sounds like they’ve shed more than just their black metal skin. After listening to this I skimmed through a bunch of the other songs on YouTube & it seems like they’ve just about dropped metal completely. It mostly sounds like some terrible collision of electronic music, atmospheric goth, and adult contemporary alternative or something. Yuck.

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