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I want to start by saying this can barely be considered metal. Ulver has gone through a radical change after Nattens Madrigal and never looked back. It is mostly electronic music, but not stupid techno shit or anything, this is really experimental, interesting stuff. The way they name tracks on this CD is the most confusing ever. There are names on the back such as "A Memorable Fancy" but they are not the song titles, although they are part of some of them. And the songs aren't just the "plate numbers" either. Rather, the songs are the red text in the lyrics. As you can see more than one "plate" is in a track sometimes. But the tracklisting is on this site anyways.
There are certainly a LOT of lyrics, based on themes from William Blake's "The Marraige of Heaven and Hell," obviously. They are very interesting. Try to read them while listening, at least on a few songs. Sometimes it's hard to find where they are because you have no idea what track number is which song. Or you might get a headache because they're all in capital letters in huge blocks of text. I don't understand the lyrics that well but I think they are contradicting the bible or whatever, and some are quite thought-provoking.
There are so many genre's mixed, that they are all mixed together within one song, right on top of each other. For instance, Track 4 has a very peaceful, catchy acoustic guitar tune with garm's vocals and some female vocals (just talking) with a semi-electronic beat, then at the end it suddenly does a backflip into this wild Industrial/Metal/Electronic instrumental. It is easily one of my favorites.
There are so many kinds of vocals. Several songs are mainly carried by vocals with a nice tune in the background, usually a dark acoustic tune with a pulsing electronic beat sometimes. There are the many voices of Garm and there are some female vocalists. Sometimes there is just talking, sometimes it is whispering, sometimes normal singing, sometimes more harsh singing, sometimes a mix between talking and singing, sometimes electronically distorted or echoed vocals.
The first track is a nice industrial/metal feeling song kicked off with deep dark vocals and industrialized percussion. one of the best ones. Track 2 is atmospheric distorted guitars with female singing ending up in a cloud of ambience. Track 6 is a monsterous, agressive, experimental song constantly being mangled and twisted around.
Track 7 is easily my absolute favorite. It is very epic, but in a way you never would have thought you would describe as epic. What makes it is the progression and the amazing vocal melodies. It is somewhat aggressive but you can hardly say anything on this album is "heavy." It starts off quietly with a pulsing beat and soft mechanic voice for a while, then suddenly flips around into the main part with a bunch of industrial sounds. The "Chorus" it's building up to is the best part. Garm's vocal melodies just totally make the song enjoyable, it's just the tone of his voice or the style of the singing -- I really can't explain it. But this song isn't just based on vocals, of course, the parts where he is talking are very upbeat and you will not be able to stop tapping your fingers. That's the best way I can describe it, I'm sure you know this isn't actually catchy pop music.
Throughout the rest of the first disc you'll find more experimental instrumentals and songs with strange mixtures or maybe similar to what I described already. and a LOT of lyrics. There are a lot of ambiant parts too that seem to stop songs when they don't seem to stop and interrupt them with a breath of quiet ambience.
Now for disc 2. I didnt get into disc 2 too much when I first got this. I usually didn't even play it because my first few impressions weren't very good. Boy was that a mistake - don't make that mistake. There are only 6 songs, and only the first one is kinda long, 11 minutes. The first 3 or so minutes are kind of monotonous, then Garm starts singing better and the background music gets more interesting and the song really gets some nice rhythm patterns and more shifting changes.
Track 2 is very short but has one of the coolest melodies on the cd. I really don't know how to explain it much more than that. I picture being in some kind of futuristic top-secret facility. Actually, this sounds more like the style of Silencing the Singing, quite ambient but musical. Track 3 and 4 are pretty good but i'm not gonna go in depth with them.
Track 5 is very ambient and probably the most interesting song on disc 2. If you have concentration you will notice so many different things happening in this song and could invision a million different things.
The last song has a really good pulsating beat. It adds some really interesting sounds then a really really cool guitar riff that repeats, and another guitar riff that is rediculously fast and crazy. The vocals here sound like he's some huge strong hulk guy directing an army. Actually, this is probably the most bizarre song on the entire album now that I think of it. Great way to end this masterpiece. It says it's 26 minutes but that's just to fool you, the music lasts only about 5 minutes and there's a very short, pointless bonus thing at the end.
On first listen, this cd will probably leave you in mass confusion. While you are listening the first time you will have no idea what will happen next. The songs don't really seem coherent but it is very fun because there is such a crazy mix of things happening one after another. Don't pass it up and give it a chance. It takes a long time to get used to because it's something you've heard nothing like before. Ulver is just so brilliant.