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Remains one of my most unique folk albums. - 90%

IcemanJ256, November 25th, 2004

This was pretty much the first folk style album I got, other than Nick Drake's Five Leaves Left. After enjoying the little acoustic parts in metal songs such as very early In Flames, early Dark Tranquillity, At the Gates, Opeth, even Satyricon, this was recommended to me as an album full of little folk songs like that, and it certainly was the perfect suggestion. Most of the songs are very short, as in 2-4 minutes, some are even 1 minute, with the exception of the last track which is nearly 7 minutes. The album is only 35 minutes altogether. It's the same thing with the 2 black metal albums though, just because a CD is short doesn't mean it's bad. Unfortunately I didn't get this right away because I didn't like the vocals, and waited until I discovered some electronic works of Ulver (which are also excellent) to start collecting the old stuff. Now my folk collection has grown far beyond this, and it remains one of the most unique albums in my folk collection, probably due to the vocal style. It didn't really inspire most of my folk collection though, that honor goes to Sol Invictus.

The prominent vocal style I speak of is mostly chanting in Norwegian. Maybe some people are repelled by this because these vocals seem to strong and take away from the calm acoustic playing, but I got used to them and started to enjoy them because of the uniqueness. Tracks 2 and 7 are total a-cappella, track 7 being particularly interesting for no instruments (track 2 is only 17 seconds long).

Most of this album is instrumental, containing acoustic guitars of course, and violins, cellos and flutes. As you should know, this is Ulver's only folk album, in the middle of their black-metal trilogie, but it has no hint of black metal in the music. If you're close-minded and can't listen to anything without harsh vocals and heavily distorted guitars, this isn't for you.

There's really not much to say about each individual track, the acoustic playing is brilliant and beautiful, constantly going through different ideas instead of just strumming the same thing through the whole song. My favorite acoustic playing is probably in the song "Halling," it is just so warm and welcoming. "Nattleite" contains mostly cellos and calm chanting, and the remix, later found on "Quick Fix of Melancholy" is interesting. The first song, "Østenfor Sol Og Vestenfor Maane" has some of the most prominent chanting vocals and mix of instruments. "Hiertets Vee" breaks down near the end into some ambient background noise and some fluffy flute playing.

Fans of "metallers-gone-folk" like later Empyrium, Of Wand & The Moon; fans of Viking/Folk metal such as Vintersorg; and the little acoustic parts in metal that I mentioned above should love this. I'm sure this was quite unexpected when it first came out, and that was just the beginning of the unexpected twists and turns that Garm the Genius would cook up.