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Ulver - Blood Inside

When you think of bands that don't like to get boxed in and content with one style, Ulver may jump immediately to mind.  The band who once resided in the land of extreme black metal now has went so far out in left field that even their most adamant of fans will find it nearly impossible to follow them down this new road.  If extreme metal was what you were hoping for, forget about it.  What Ulver has created on Blood Inside has a few slight elements of metal, but really doesn't fall into the genre at all.  While the reviewer who worries too much about what other people think might immediately claim this is brilliant and not even know why, I for one absolutely hated this disc on first spin.  Yes, I'm very open-minded with my music.  But sometimes I hear a band that I can't stand at the first and can't get into no matter how many times I listen to the album.  But with Ulver's new disc, my open-mindedness is starting to pay off.  It seems that with each listen to this album, I start to cave in and like more and more of what I hear.  The more I listen, the more I catch stuff that I missed the previous time.  What first sounded like a melting pot of different genres and just plain weirdness is slowly fitting together like one of those 1000 piece puzzles that at first seems overwhelming, but becomes something stunning when the pieces start to fall in place.

Pinning Ulver into one specific genre is impossible.  The band mixes everything from metal elements, to avant garde, to dark ambient, to electronica, to pop, to jazz, to even classical.  For those who like their music nicely packaged into an easily definable style, you best look elsewhere.  At times Ulver is eerie and haunting, at times they are bombastic, at times they sound like they are creating a movie soundtrack, at times they are dodging and weaving as if to keep you guessing, and at times they seem to be just trying to confuse and leave you bewildered.  Sometimes you feel like pulling your hair out and ripping the CD out of the player, but at other times it just feels liberating and wildly interesting.  And as far as the vocals go, Garm does a very solid job.  At times he's aggressive, and at times he's deliberate and precise in his delivery.  At times he's clearly understood, at other times the vocals are so messed with that you need the lyric sheet to follow what's being said.

While many may consider this disc to be too strange and just plain worthless, those who like something different and crave bands that try to be creative, this will give you the chills.  And to make things even more interesting, the band includes a video for the song "It is Not Sound" that is just as demented as the rest of the album.

As for production, the sound here is excellent.  The packaging is plain, but for some reason I really like it.  The CD booklet is a glossy white with all red lettering on the inside.  Very neat and uncluttered.  As far as the lyrics go, at times they seem direct in their meaning and at other times they seem to be very vague while possibly insinuating certain ideas.  Many of those "ideas" seem to be sarcastic and anti-God both on the surface and upon further inspection.  And for those who care about such things, they also choose to "bless" us with the lovely f-word in the song "For the Love of God."

The performance of Ulver on this album and the creativity they display is to be admired.  They are definitely more daring than most bands would ever dream of being.  However, their lyrical content...if I'm interpreting it correctly...is at little bit of a turn-off.  I can't say this will be an album that I'll be in the mood for everyday, but it's one that I have learned to enjoy and one that I know for sure will be nothing like anything the band records again.

Rating: 82/100

Review By: Matt Morrow

Label: The End Records

Total Songs: 9

Total Time: 45:47

Tracklisting: 1. Dressed in Black, 2. For the Love of God, 3. Christmas, 4. Blinded By Blood, 5. It is Not Sound, 6. The Truth, 7. In the Red, 8. Your Call, 9. The Operator.  Plus Video for "It is Not Sound".

Best Songs: Tracks 3, 4, and 9.

Band Lineup: Kristoffer G. Rygg, Jørn H. Sværen, and Tore Ylwizaker.

Band Website: http://www.jester-records.com/ulver