Reissues are under way of Ulver’s ‘Black Metal’ period. Kveldssanger bucks the trend by being recorded with entirely acoustic instruments, lending a dark, doomed folk feel. The record has been remastered for this release, and comes as a heavyweight package (thick gatefold sleeve and 180g vinyl) with a booklet, on Century Media.
Vinyl LP £20.49 19075950461
Remastered 180g vinyl gatefold reissue LP on Century Media.
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Though ‘Kveldssanger’ is a folk album composed using entirely acoustic instrumentation, and the second instalment of Ulver’s ‘black metal trilogy’. Steeped in a shadowy atmosphere which effectively plunges the listener into the deepest depths of the forests of Norway, ‘Kveldssanger’ matches the ghostly tone of their debut ‘Bergtatt: Et eeventyr i 5 capitler’ and evokes the same haunted folklore as the grizzly ‘Nattens madrigal’.
Their second record is often regarded as the first ever dark folk album, a subgenre of neofolk stripped of its industrial and post-punk influence. ‘Kveldssanger’ leaves the impression that it’s a companion piece to ‘Bergtatt’, utilising fingerpicked acoustic passages, melodic yet hushed vocal harmonies and classical influenced arrangements, all while shedding the distortion, tremolos and shrieked vocals which commonly feature in black metal.
The most impressive aspect of ‘Kveldssanger’ is the enduring mood of ritualism and desolation it rouses; flutes and cello occasionally surface over plucked strings, Gregorian chants conjure ceremonial sacrilege, and the use of sound snippets of windswept trees ‘Hiertets vee’ give the impression the album was recorded in an isolated wood cabin during a stormy night. It’s a deeply gloomy and bleak record, with the two-minute track ‘Halling’ offering the only hope within the turmoil.
‘Kveldssanger’ is a strange and wonderful record which will appeal to those into the weirder and darker side of folk, though its deep-seated atmosphere makes it inseparable from the black metal genre. Following the trilogy, Ulver effectively became the Coil of the metal realm, dipping into industrial, trip hop, ambient, synth pop and modern classical. Their willingness to experiment and deviate has made this reviewer extremely intrigued to explore all their work, prompted by listening to ‘Kveldssanger’ merely once.
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