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Into the Chambers of the Mountain - 90%

Slater922, February 23rd, 2021
Written based on this version: 1995, CD, Head Not Found (1st press)

The last time I talked about Ulver, I talked about their album "Nattens Madrigal" and its raw and unfiltered black metal sound. Well this time, we're gonna go back in time to the year 1995, where just last year, black metal produced some of the best albums in the entire genre's history. While "Bergtatt" was late in its 1994 deadline, I wouldn't be surprised if this was put in the same league as Mayhem's "De Mysteriis Dom. Sathanas" or Burzum's "Hvis lyset tar oss" had it been released in that year. This era of Ulver took on a mix of black metal and folk music, and "Bergtatt" blends those genres perfectly.

The instrumental work on this album is marvelous. As I stated in the previous paragraph, Bergtatt mixes black metal with some folk elements, and it works amazingly. A great example of this would be in the first track "I Troldskog faren vild". The guitar riffs have a black metal structure in them, so they sound dark and sorrowful on paper. However, when played, the riffs sound very melodic and peaceful. When they're more aggressive, the riffs sound more distorted and disorganized, which brings the black metal structures more light in them. The drums also beat in rhythmic and freeform-like patterns, so their patterns are diverse. Even the bass, while not perfect, still provides a good foundation for the rest of the instruments to play on. The instrumentation and production is more clean and organized than most other black metal albums at the time, and its style is overall unique.

Another great part in the album is Gram's vocals. In "Nattens Madrigal", his vocals are nothing but high shrieks and screaming, but here, he goes for a different style. Back to the first track, we hear Gram sing the entire song. His vocals sound very heavenly and angelic, and flows beautifully with the instrument's more slower tempo. But while there is some singing, there are also plenty of high shrieks on the album. For example, the track "Soelen gaaer bag Aase need" has Gram screaming a lot in the song. While they aren't as brutal as in "Nattens Madrigal", they still have a forceful tone in them, and flow well with the more angry instruments. The album mixes the singing and screaming well, and gives the overall tone of the album a bipolar feel.

Lastly is the lyrics and the story being told in the album. While I still consider "Nattens Madrigal" to be the best in terms of concept albums, "Bergtatt" comes at a close second. The album has a main story about a woman who is lured into mountainous forests and killed by creatures, leading to her spirit to become one with the land. It is especially presented well in the third track "Graablick blev hun vaer", where this verse quotes:

"I sense cold eyes
Whatever I do – I must be quick
Before sorcery takes me with force"

The girl talks about how she worries that she is being watched and that she must get out of the area quick. Unfortunately, it doesn't end well for her, as later in the song "Bergtatt - ind i Fjeldkamrene", she is killed by the wolves. The lyrics are very descriptive and poetic on the story, and it is executed well with the instruments as the varied pace in the songs give it mixed feelings of hopelessness and anxiety. The lyrical talents on this album are excellent, and are executed better with the instruments.

Overall, this album is a great start for Ulver's debut. The instruments are composed nicely, Gram's vocals are diverse and flow well, and the story is detailed and impactful to the album. While this album may not have the raw sound of "Nattens Madrigal", it still provides a great folk-like atmosphere. I highly recommend this album to anyone who wants a mix of black metal and folk music.