Sunday, April 3, 2011

Another opus worthy of the book's pages?

Ulver 'Nattens Madrigal'

Though Black Metal Revolution has now received approx 100 completed submissions, there are still a great many releases that I hope to see covered in the book's pages. The following is not one I actually expect to see profiled, but felt compelled to offer something on this myself. As noted in previous entries I have already composed my personal submission  (my piece on Burzum's 'Hvis Lyset Tar Oss' can be viewed here) so it's not as though the following discourse on Ulver will be featured, but it does give prospective authors another point of view should they be seeking inspiration...

Without question, reverie for Ulver's third offering deserves a space within the pages of Black metal Revolution. An album in which the accolades awarded it are steeped in the most cherished of mid 90's BM cliches; had it manifested earlier than it did, it would have possibly been the record by which the barometer for those terms was set.

Radiating most directly the trance-like elements of Darkthrone's 'Transilvanian Hunger', the sound materilises as a more sonic, savage expulsion which is amazingly melodious without ever being crass or obvious. Where 'Hunger' appears saturated, Ulver have generated a storm of sound that while visceral is also separated and dynamic. I suggest the expertise of the performance and execution to be most responsible for this result.

Though the above-held position is not unique to me alone, there is of course another path of exploration that needs to be addressed. It was not a secret that Ulver intended this to be their final dalliance in the BM sound sphere, and though I had no idea of what would materialise on successor (William Blake's Marriage Of Heaven and Hell) I believe this declaration had set in motion some sort of psychic rot where this musical epiphany was tarnished before even being heard. I imagine that had the band continued under another moniker, that this ill feeling may have been less significant, though I wonder if I am simply at odds with the idea of a band choosing not to perform BM any longer. I framed Ulver as channelling the same lunacy as their contemporaries. Obviously this is a shortcoming on my part, complicated by the nature of the fanatic no less.

Further bedevilled by the affiliation with Century Media, it seemed the band had distanced themselves from what they were perceived to be. 'Nattens...' felt somewhat contrived, though I wonder whether there is any more to that than a difficulty in aligning myself to the idea that a band could plan and execute three releases prior to recording any of them and know exactly how the story would end. It felt like anathema to the art and craft of playing in a band. Corrupting the orthodoxy of vision, trial, and revision to guide the outcome. While I don't generally care for convention, some mediums will never reach their true potential if not adequately explored. Granted this assessment is a simplistic one and
within the boundaries of any apparent absolutes are untold variables.

The cover does this release no justice, but whenever I put this record on, the scourging guitar sound forms images of glacier cold currents of unbridled electrical current and though the thrill of the journey's commencement does not continue through to the album's conclusion, Garm's vocal wrath, Skoll's fluid and energizing bass highlighted with rapacious drumming and the "did they?" actually record this deep, deep in the woods is always enough to keep me clearing the decks for at least one more round.

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