Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2018
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Best viewed
without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
or higher.

Easy to forget - 50%

droneriot, June 21st, 2016

Among the many bands that changed away from metal to something else, Ulver have thankfully been mostly, more or less, moderately sensible about avoiding arrogance over the switch and avoiding a "we're too good for metal"-attitude. I admit I'm squirming a bit to grant them that, simply by comparison to many other bands who have displayed much worse behaviour, not by being able to muster much admiration for how neatly and tidily the band has handled the subject, there's no innocence here, "outgrowing metal"-narcissism does exist, it is simply a whole lot more tame than the likes of Geoff Tate and other such - in their own minds - history-defining artists. Thanks to said tameness, I don't mind so much. But albums like this...

Well, it's very pleasant and catchy music, I'll get to that in a bit, but there's something that annoys me about it in principle. I'm not going to praise something like Six Feet Under's cover albums here, but I find something rather grating about these cover albums that seem to be entirely about showing off how hip the artists' listening habits are, what respectable and supremely artistic influences they draw from, rather than actually covering songs they simply like or would be interesting to cover, ideally both. Therion did this, Shining did this, and Ulver do the same here. I'm sure many an apologist will want to tell me that the guys behind the band might actually be into this stuff, and I wouldn't go as far as to question their honesty, but fuck does it reek of begging for legitimacy as artists, and going by that impression they're probably embarrassed to have covered Kiss in the past - though that could be twisted to being ironic and hip or whatever. It's pleasant and catchy, but there's an air of "book us for trendy art exhibitions, not mundane rock clubs" permeating every second of the album's playing time.

It's some seriously nice and relaxing tunes, yeah. Something to drift off to cruising the landscape or whatever. Has little more emotional depth than the lyrics on Massacre's Promise, goes in one ear and out the other, but is seriously nice and relaxing doing so. Very feel-good, and great at that, can just sit back and clear your head. Where's the Ulver in it, though? It's their band, and they're by no means bound to meet my expectations, but I was under the impression that if I put on an Ulver album post Nattens Madrigal I'd be hearing something experimental. What I'm hearing hear is radio-friendly rock from around the 70s and 80s, sometimes leaning more towards the former, sometimes more the latter, given a hideously modern production. I don't know what deepest depth of the Bible Belt you'd have to go to to find a grandmother who'd take offense at this music. It's slick, without a hint of a rough edge to it, and much more radio friendly than more than 90% of what's actually on the radio these days. Yeah, Nickelback do make a more engaging listen than this. A collection of inoffensive sappy sad radio rock songs, all cool, like I said it's pleasant and catchy, nice and relaxing, but pointless to have the Ulver logo on the cover if I could be hearing "The Future Sound of Music" or "Waltz of King Karl" instead.

Overall this album is far too nice to hate, and listening to the Ulver discography I always include it, but if I wanted to listen to just one individual Ulver album it would be the last I'd pick, being such a non-entity in in any way engaging content. Seems like they want to buddy up with the hip and artsy crowd here with their cool and legitimate song choices, but actually just waste their time and everyone else's by not doing much at all that's worth investing time in. If they enjoyed doing this, good on them, I think working on an actual album - which excludes recording your live improvisations and selling them as albums - would be more enjoyable for everyone else, though.