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Ulver's Beginning - 100%

FireMoonOrgy, November 22nd, 2008

When a musical outfit like Ulver have managed to keep an audience that have been with them since their early days, its not all that complicated to see how that is. Ulver have always been consistent with providing shifts in their musical exploration, and it has become quite typical to expect something from whatever their latest or final (?) release that’s, for the most part, completely ‘backwards’ to its predecessor. That's the Ulver we are familiar with now, and have been for quite sometime, but back in 1994 this musical outfit was just another young Norwegian band attempting to contribute their own take on what would become known to be the infamous and well documented Norwegian black metal scene of the commonly named “second wave” of black metal. With the release of their impressive debut “Bergtatt - Et Eeventyr i 5 Capitler”. They would sooner than later be heard properly by audiences, not only in Norway, but everywhere fans of the black metal genre called home.

As the first track of Bergtatt begins to play, you are instantly overtaken by a perfectly created atmosphere of what can best be described as the sound of that which is serene. Although this may not be the initial intention of the song lyrically, it’s definitely what the listener may get from the music that’s presented. This formula of calmness is very prominent throughout the entire album, along with its accompanied folk and more ferocious black metal side. As the black metal and folk passages blend together they create a melodically dazzling unique approach that is very impressive even to this day, as most other metal bands who’ve also followed this same approach tend to sound quite similar in someway, shape, or form. Simply, they just don’t really provide anything nowadays that was as refreshing as Bertgtatt was upon its release in the early-to-mid 90s. That’s not to say there hasn’t been any bands since who haven’t offered anything that can’t contend with Bergtatt, there just isn’t that many who have shown they deserve the worthiness as much as Ulver’s debut does. The addition of flutes and the playing of a piano (not really anything new), along with the acoustic guitars and the usually neglected bass guitar that is actually heard throughout, show just how unique certain bands of the black metal genre like Ulver could be at the time and shows exactly what they would soon become altogether. That being an entity of many sounds.

Bergtatt is also such a delight thanks to its wonderful vocals, courtesy of Kristoffer Rygg. Better known in the earlier days when he still went under the name Garm. Garm is well known for his vocal range abilities, and Bergtatt is where audiences got their first "official" taste from the then very young and talented vocalist, as he showcases his ability to conjure the emotions of beauty with clean vocals, as well as the ghastly with his grim shrieking vocals black metal is notorious for. Bergtatt’s production is very solid and does an excellent job in providing the listener with the proper amount of atmosphere, which plays a huge part in making Bergtatt the standout that it is. The atmosphere that is created can actually make the listener feel as if they’re in the very mystical forests of the Norwegian mountains themselves. Overall the production is just about as perfect as it gets for an album that consists of folk inspired black metal.

Bergtatt - Et Eeventyr i 5 Capitler is nothing short of a black metal masterpiece, even though it only plays for an estimated time of about 35 minutes, which really is not all that big of a deal seeing as how Ulver still managed to create what they did with it. There really shouldn’t be any good reasons as to why this early stepping stone in Ulver’s musical catalog is not given the well deserved respect and praise that it’s usually surrounded by. But then again that’s just one’s own opinion. While Ulver’s second effort Kveldssanger consists mainly of beautifully created Scandinavian folk music that’s predominantly all acoustic, and their third effort the lengthily entitled Nattens Madrigal - Aatte Hymne til Ulven i Manden consists mainly of some of the most amazingly harsh black metal ever recorded, the first of what is known as the black metal ‘trilogie’ of Ulver still remains as the most essential to any black metal collection.