Ulver - Wars Of The Roses review

Bandcamp music player

179 users:
Band: Ulver
Album: Wars Of The Roses
Release date: April 2011

01. February MMX
02. Norwegian Gothic
03. Providence
04. September IV
05. England
06. Island
07. Stone Angels

Oh those wolves. Those tricky Norwegians, Ulver, are back. Blah blah blah. I'm not going to mince words retracing their evolution and I'll assume you've passed the 101 class. Lesson not needed.

I have enjoyed the vast majority of their sonic journey, and their last, 2007's Shadows Of The Sun was one of my absolute favorite releases of that year. To say I was eagerly anticipating this album would be a massive understatement.

So we get it. They've dropped their first album in four years. What's it sound like?

The short answer might be a surprising "more of the same. Kinda."

Wars Of The Roses almost seems to be a bit of a retrospective of the past dozen years of the band's existence. (That's 84 years in wolf years. Or at least dog years, which is probably close enough.) Overall it seems most akin to its predecessor. This album is slow, mellow, moody, melancholic, and heavily atmospheric.

But, as one might expect with this band, its not just that simple.

Album opener "February MMX" is a mid-pace piece that screams indie rock. Drums and piano riffs propel this song along in such a manner that my friends who lamented not being able to score tix to Coachella this year would be racing to the record store after hearing it… But it's a great misdirect. It's an enjoyable song (but perhaps the weakest on the album) that tossed me for a loop, as I was expecting something mellower and maybe stringy. Or ambient.

And then for most the rest of the album the energy (and pulse) are cut to life-support pace.

The songs are well crafted and get a little stronger as the album goes on. While as a whole they might be as slow and mellow as the last album, they are prone to a little more expressive flourishes, such as the slight boost to tempo and saxophone found in "Providence".

Additionally some of the crazier component pieces found in Blood Inside that made that album a (IMBO) cacophonous mess at times are very, very tightly reined in and used as, uh, flair to the music here. For example the brilliant "September IV" ends with a bit of a flourish that adds to the song, without going overboard, like, say, "Operator" from Blood Inside, which sounds like Garm Bungle. Skip button city. Not this go around. It works.

In addition to Garm's familiar vocals, performed in the style of Ulver's preceding album, the band now also counters him with some female singing on "Providence".

The experience comes to a very, very prolonged ending with "Stone Angels", a track that you will either love or immediately delete off your hard drive forever. "Stone Angels" is what feels to be similar to one of the various Silence releases, only instead of, well, silence, the track features a spoken word version of the poem entitled "Stone Angels" (bet you didn't see that one coming!) by Keith Waldrop. Clocking in at just shy of 15 minutes, making it about as long as the latest album from Magrudergrind, and it accounts for about 1/3 of Wars Of The Roses.

All in all perhaps this album was a slight letdown on first listen, as it seemed, beyond the opener and closer to be Shadows Of The Sun MMXI. And by slight letdown, I mean thoroughly enjoyable, but kind of fell in to place where I thought, ahead of time, it would… and the only thing to expect about this band is the unexpected. Repeated spins, however, have yielded increased appreciation. The layering isn't horribly complex, but each time finds a little something new to appreciate.

To say I like this album would be like saying Chuckie Sheen likes checking into a hotel, and simultaneously banging seven grams and three pr0nstars, each of whom have more communicable diseases than Manowar has live albums.

Adonis DNA with Ulf blood. Duh. Enjoying.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 8
Songwriting: 9
Originality: 8
Production: 9


Written on 29.04.2011 by BitterCOld has been officially reviewing albums for MetalStorm since 2009.

Comments page 2 / 2

Comments: 31   Visited by: 485 users
07.12.2011 - 18:44
Account deleted
I don't agree with the review since the album is boring and average for me.

Hits total: 11649 | This month: 40