Rating: 4.5/5
Distributor / label: House of Mythology
Released: 2016
Buy album: http://store.houseofmythology.com/cart/product.php?id=26594
Band Website: http://www.jester-records.com/ulver/ and https://www.facebook.com/Ulver-31166220421/

ulver new album

Band line-up

Kristoffer Rygg: Electronics, percussion, voice
Daniel O’ Sullivan: Bass, guitar
Tore Ylwizaker: Keys, electronics
Jørn H. Sværen: Voice

Additional members

Seth Baudrealt: Audiovisuals
Ole Alexander Halstensgård: Electronics
Anders Møller: Percussion
Ivar thormodsæter: Drums


1. England’s Hidden
2. Gammer Hammer
3. Moody Stix
4. Cromagnosis
5. The Spirits That Lend Strength Are Invisible
6. Om Hanumate Namah
7. Desert / Dawn
8. D-Day Drone
9. Gold Beach
10. Nowhere (Sweet Sixteen)
11. Ecclesiastes (A Vernal Catnap)
12. Solaris


Back in 2009, Norwegian avant-garde ensemble Ulver took yet another drastic turn in their evolutionary shift. They had become a live band for the first time in fifteen years since their black metal incarnation, joined forces with multi-instrumentalist Daniel O’Sullivan and sold out big venues such as the Queen Elizabeth Hall and most notably the Norwegian National Opera House. The band hasn’t stopped there either. In recent years they have collaborated with the likes of the Tromso Chamber Orchestra and Sun O))) while extensively touring Europe in 2014. The new record by the quartet is an offering of improvisational pieces played across that very same tour. Together with additional members and through studio enhanced production, this latest offering is undoubtedly yet another quantum leap forward in their ever growing sound.

Right from the meditative outset of ‘England’s Hidden’ the band’s ambient approach plunges further into the depths of their creativity. Subsiding seamlessly into the tribal beats of ‘Glammer Hammer’, the heavy guitar drop conjures up a cinematic quality in the band’s sound that belongs to a big screen production.

It becomes quickly prevalent that the time and effort that went into the production of this improvised piece of work is nothing short of stunning especially in the psychedelic jam session ‘Cromagnosis’.

Around midway, the record does go on an ambient detour from the electronic beeps of ‘Desert / Dawn’ and the fogginess of ‘D-Day Drone’ with recorded voice samples that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Godspeed You! Black Emperor record.

One of the personal favourites is the Zen-like radiance of ‘Golden Beach’ which sounds as ascends to mountainous heights; far removed from the inhabited world below. It is literally something you can lose yourself in for hours.

Finally, we are given some vocal contribution in the way of ‘Nowhere (Sweet Sixteen)’ which plays out a beefed up version of one of the band’s flagship songs on Perdition City. However, this time it feels more proggy and less synthy.

Another milestone in Kris’s impressive vocals takes form in ‘Ecclesiastes (A Vernal Catnap)’ which comes with a soulful vocal range that shimmers lightly in the background of an impressive aural landscape.

‘Solaris’ polishes everything off with a grandiose chamber vibe ending credits rolling up over a neon screen. Although it is considerably shorter than some of the tracks found here, it doesn’t feel out of place nor indulgent in the band’s victory.

This record is unquestionably the most ambitious album Ulver have made in both their influences and duration. While previous endeavors have delivered conceptual motifs such as Shadows of the Sun and Messe I.X-VI.X; what we have here is something far more organic and free flowing. In this sense, it will be yet another album that divides as well as unifies their fans. However, this is the most confident Ulver have ever sounded as they stand as firmly on stage as they have done in all the previous years of studio hibernation. The wolves have evolved to a whole new level of consciousness that goes beyond anything, and yet celebrates everything that they have come to be. Incredible stuff!

Review by Ben Spencer