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Ulver's Finest. - 92%

caspian, April 30th, 2007

Often, a band's debut album is their best. The band has had a lifetime to write the songs, there's no expectations, and the band will often be committed and passionate about their music. Of course some side effects can include sloppy production and songwriting, but Ulver avoid these traps quite easily, creating what is arguably their best work yet. The music in this album will probably sound quite familiar to most metal fans. Atmospheric/Folky Metal has been done quite well by quite a few bands.. Agalloch, Drudkh, even Opeth if you're so inclined. But this is where it was done first, and only Drudkh has got close to the majesty in this album. Everything in this album is epic, majestic, and just straight out awesome- Atmospheric Black Metal at it's finest.

As soon as the drum roll kicks in for the first song you know you're in for a good time. The guitar riffs are melodic and really heavy, the bass is clearly audible and has some really great lines, and while the vocals aren't as godlike as they are in say, Kveldssanger or Blood Inside, they're pretty damn solid. Every song's got a real forest vibe to it.. The vocals sounding all distant and chanted, the guitars reverbed but still crystal clear, the drums solid, but wonderfully wooden-sounding and organic.

A good thing about this album is the freshness, the twists and turns that are in this album. The second song starts off with some ethereal folk, goes all blasting black metal, and then comes out the other side sounding even more ethereal, with a heavy yet beautiful guitar riff that Drudkh would love to make their own. The album's content to stay in a fairly mid paced pace for the most part, and the folky and faster bits are put in at quite appropriate spots. The band really is astonishingly versatile.. The clean parts are really beautiful, and while the faster bits don't exactly match Nattrens Madrical for speed and ferocity, they're pretty powerful nonetheless. The Capitel III is also a great example, again starting off all folky before going crazy. There's also the next tune, which is straight up folk, with some totally spine chilling female vocals, floating disembodied in the mix and sounding really beautiful.

In a way it's quite discouraging that people who where younger then me can make such great music. This album's 5 songs do vary in pace and structure, but they're all amazing, with some excellent vocals, diverse guitar work, some moments of anger, and some of serenity. While I do like Ulver's later work, it's a shame that they won't do something like this again. A must have for any fans of Atmospheric metal.