Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2019
Encyclopaedia Metallum

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

Privacy Policy

The wolves are unleashed! - 100%

The Clansman 95, August 12th, 2019

From their folkish black metal beginnings, to their current post rock/electronic music experimentation, Ulver have always stood tall in the Norwegian music scenario. For a group of musicians to change so deeply and drastically, yet to be able to keep producing music that is so true to them and so utterly splendid, is something beyond extraordinary. "Nattens Madrigal" marks the end of an era for Ulver, namely their folk/black metal period, and tops it off, not without throwing in unique elements, that would distinguish the record both from those following and from those precedeing it. If "Bergtatt" was a real work of art in combining atmospheric black metal with the Norwegian folklore and folk music, and "Kveldssanger" was a pure folk album, "Nattens Madrigal" exhibits the black metal core of Ulver in its purest, rawest and most violent song, but without abandoning the folk elements that made the fortune of the previous albums.

"Nattens Madrigal" is a sort of concept focused on the theme of lycanthropy, inspired by the traditional Norwegian tales of werewolves. The album expands the "metal" component of Ulver's sound, but it does not fall to incorporate acoustic arpeggios and folk melodies, making up for a unique mix of raw black metal and folk. The album's attitude is perfectly showed in the opening track, starting off with an all-out assault of fast tremolo picking, frenzied soloing, piercing screams and blast beats, to give space to an acoustic session reminescent of the band's first work, to later go back to the aforementioned raw black metal approach.

Musically speaking, the album is absolutely fantastic: the twin axes often play different patterns that complement each other perfectly, consisting in frantic tremolo picking or harsh chords according to the case, both soaked with significative sparks of melody, that are widely incorporated in the riffing and the acoustic parts alike. In the meanwhile, a ferocious and merciless assault is taking place behind the drumkit, in the form of relentless and extremely fast blast beats, that offer a harsh counterpart to the aggressive yet melodic riffing. The screams are equally rabid, mostly centered around the typical mid-range of old-school black metal acts, but occasionally spacing in the higher, shriek-like register. The bass lines are particularly interesting and complex, especially considering the fact that this is a black metal album, as they don't follow the guitars' patterns for the whole duration of the CD, but instead tend to vary quite often.

Something that "Nattens Madrigal" has become particularly infamous for is the extreme lo-fi production, with the guitar sound consisting in too many highs and the axes placed far too high in the mix, drowning the rest of the instruments, especially the bass. Thankfully, the re-mastered version (available in vinyl) has almost solved the problem, as the new mix allows the bass and the vocals to be clearly heard, without depriving the guitars of that extremely raw and piercing sound that some may hate, or at least need some time to get accustomed to, but that I personally love and consider an added value, as it perfectly complements the songwriting and the album's general mood. I recommend purchasing that version if possible. By the way, "Nattens Madrigal" is a must-have and an obliged listen for any black metal fan: it's raw, aggressive yet melodic, furious yet evocative, and makes up for a glorious conclusion for Ulver's black metal trilogy. Don't miss this album for any reason!