One of my first forays into the black metal genre was Ulver’s trilogy from the 90s. I was first introduced to Ulver because of my love for nature-inspired black metal. “Bergttat”, “Kvledssanger” and “Nattens Madrigal” blew me away with stunning black metal and folk music. Also these albums were revolutionary in the progress of black metal. I was so excited to find this band that I wanted to hear more. Since those albums Ulver always changed up their style from intriguing (Perdition City) to boring (any of their electronic albums). I kind of stopped listening to them after Perdition City. Then I was reading one of my friend’s posts on Facebook and he gave his top albums for 2017 and to my surprise what came first on that list was Ulver’s new album “The Assassination of Julius Caesar”. So I listened to the album and was utterly floored by the music in it. I have been diving more into synthpop/new wave music and to see Ulver go in this direction was intriguing.
After multiple listens the more the album grew on me. There is some excellent stuff in “The Assassination of Julius Caesar” and it once again made Ulver accessible to me. There is still some weird and fascinating moments in the album that harken back to their electronic days, but instead of boring electronics it was interesting electronics instead. The best way to describe the music in this album is driving in a haze after a rainy night recollecting the highs and lows of life. It is a relaxing, introspective and morose album. The overarching highlight to me is the vocals of Garm, I have always respected Garm’s vocal style over the years and really missed hearing him in a bunch of Ulver’s newer albums. The tones, style and imagery he conveys in his vocals really makes “The Assassination of Julius Caesar” stand out to me. His vocals are versatile and really compliment the synth sounds and beats found in the songs. These is sense of darkness, beauty and longing all put into one package.
I was even more impressed with the electronic and synth work in this album. There is warmth and coldness abound in “The Assassination of Julius Caesar”. I feel like I am listening to a movie reminiscing about the nostalgia and history of the 80s. The album’s lyrical content is very intriguing and thought provoking, Kristoffer Rygg seamlessly blends imagery and information about two different historical contexts and makes it into his own version of history. What really makes the lyrics interesting is how he takes these seamlessly random moments in history and compares them to the darkness and emotions of the human condition. I feel this album is especially relevant to the current events of today in a wide variety of ways. This disillusionment is real for us as humans these days.
To conclude I consider this to be a heck of an album that could really tap into a wide variety of music lovers. I think Ulver’s has bridged the gap of obscurity to relevance. I feel this album could touch anyone who loves and appreciates music. There is something you can always relate to in “The Assassination of Julius Caesar” be it the lyrics, imagery, vocals or music. There is an undeniable catchiness to this album and it will continue to get consistent listens if you appreciate music that is dark as well as pop-driven. Ulver has crafted an album that has turned heads but also unlocked the potential they could still go for in future albums.
Ulver Official Page: http://jester-records.com/ulver/ulver.html