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Blood Inside

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Average Rating
★★★★½
(24 Reviews)

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  • Despite the fact that Ulver displayed a notable penchant for flagrant genre hopping right from the get go, with the wildly oscillating _Bergtatt_, the stripped back acoustic folk of _Kvelldsanger_ and, most jarringly, the ear melting opening of hells gates on _Nattens Madrigal_, this is most likely where the rule book went out of the window and their apotheosis as experimental music titans was complete. Distilling the sound used to such effect on _Perdition City_, _Blood Inside_ sees Ulver completely, spectacularly break free of metal roots and create something almost without peer in modern music.
    The nine songs presented here are dense, lush and intricately composed, neatly shunning predictability but retaining accessibility thanks to the gorgeously, blessedly clean vocals and their lilting, modern delivery. The music has an electronic base but integrates elements of jazz (slightly), rock (blistering rhythms and one guitar solo), atmosphere and ambience, and prog (insane out of place cod-classical keyboard solo, numerous other touches). the attention to detail is stunning and the lack of conventional structure actually adds to the strength of the songs: despite the uniform sound and dense production, the tracks are actually quite disparate, and the lack of predictability makes hearing each one like unwrapping another present.
    Specifically, ‘Dressed in Black’ is a low key, deceptively melodic opener, showing off the full production and warped beats, especially about 3/4 of the way through when it opens up into a chaotic percussive section. ‘For the Love of God’ is a gem, and unclassifiable slice of eerire keyboard, surprisingly upbeat tones and vocals, and an unexpected guitar solo. Something about it evokes movement (perhaps on a train?). ‘Christmas’ is basically astounding, mixing classical samples with driving beats, an aggressive, upbeat style and heart wilitng crescendos later on (those wordless vocal harmonies!). The song is practically danceable, for crying out loud! ‘Blinded by Blood’ is my favourite, an epic textural journey, ornate in delivery, featuring choral parts and weird backwashing effects, creepy melodies and an atmosphere that reminds me of quiet church or crypt. The melody and delivery of the male vocals reminds me of Mike Patton, but overall I’ve never heard anything so beautiful. You get the picture then, although I should briefly single out ‘Operator’ which is an utterly insane journey through a speedy, almost rocking proggish dance-athon (???).
    Ok, as I’ve subtly hinted at above then, I really like this album. I do believe it has a lot going for it. The songwriting is uniformly strong, the production a crystalline, technical wonder. The vocals are good and really add a lot to the music. The best feature though is that, despite the admittedly ambitious reach and scope of the record, every arow finds its target. That is, each miniature experiment works out well, even with the occasional bizzare out of place interludes, which work well in the overall scheme thanks to their jarring quality. One shouldn’t really expect a band to be able to branch out in so many different directions at once so succsessfully, so Ulvers achievement here should not be taken lightly. The vague overall concept, which seems to be about hospital fear or Christianity (or both…I mean, sanity is out of the window by this stage) helps as well, keeping everything together without really intruding on matters. I’ll wrap up now then, but this album is an experimental, accessible, delicate and delicious marvel, and I hope this review outlines why, to some extent. One thing is for sure: I used a lot of parentheses, for some reason.

    Posted on November 23, 2009