Every track on this album has made me feel something. For one, it helped me through the hardest break up in my life just by depressing me more? I think it pushed me over the edge of sadness. It took me to the point where I could turn my sadness/suffering into a positive thing. So if this makes any sense to you ( i hope it does ) then by all meanse buy this. Ultimate healing music!
Great sorrow from the Norwegian legends ULVER. Music driven to despair, all sad and solitary, written and produced under the threat of extinction. SHADOWS OF THE SUN, is ULVER’s 7th full-length album, the band’s most personal record to date. Low-key, dark, and tragic.
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As Garm said, this is a dark and tragic collection of music. Beautiful and sorrowful. Again, this is a departure from almost anything they have released before. This is intelligent music,and a very dark mood setting CD. It reminds me of the slowest and most thoughtful songs from the Blood Inside collection. If you love Ulver, go ahead and buy this CD. You will find no Black Metal here nor any Metal type of music at all. The only thing that comes to mind is Sunno))) although it sounds nothing like them? They can do no wrong….
For those who aren’t already aware of Ulver, this review will serve as a brief introduction. Ulver are an avant guard/electronica trio hailing from Norway whose origins are firmly rooted in the black metal underground of the early 90s. Since 1998 Ulver have been releasing music on Jester Records, owned by their front man Krystoffer Rygg. Not content to travel only one path, Ulver cast off their armor following the release of “Nattens Madrigal” to shroud themselves in the ever shifting cloaks of the magus. “Shadows of the Sun” follows this tradition of change, being a masterful collection of some of the most somber, yet captivating pieces of music I’ve ever heard. This is a great CD to listen to on a dark, gloomy winter day. From the first track, “Eos”, ending with “What Happened?”, the mood is shaped and reshaped again with surmounting intrigue that causes your finger to want to press the ‘repeat’ button on its own volition. One particular highlight is the inclusion of an excellent cover of Black Sabbath’s “Solitude”, from the album “Master of Reality”. Ulver’s “Shadows of the Sun” has stayed in my car’s CD player for over a month, and to this day I have not heard enough of it.
Being a relatively new, yet very enthusiastic fan of Ulver, I can honestly say that I have not anticipated any one of the myriad of great albums to released this year more than I have Ulver’s “Shadows of the Sun.” With such a serious caliber of genius as Ulver has proven to command, (Most apparent in 1998’s “Themes from William Blake’s the Marriage of Heaven and Hell,” and in 2005’s “Blood Inside”) I knew that the musical world was in for another otherworldly masterpiece. Of course, Ulver has once again, surpassed my expectations, though not in the same fashion as I had expected.
Completely forgetting Ulver’s natural tendency to evolve, I was expecting another album filled with charisma, and widespread vision such as “Blood Inside” was. Upon first listen, any one with similar expectations for this album will indeed be initially disappointed. This album is almost a polar opposite to “Blood Inside.” Where there once was powerful and grandiose structure there is now a dark, slow and brooding semi-ambience. Where there was a dark, yet somehow beautifully colorful texture there is now only black and grey. Where there were once layers upon layers of Garm’s soaring vocal harmonies, there are much darker, melancholiac, and slower dirges. Ulver have obviously made another 180 degree change in musical direction, and though it may seem for the worse, it really is not.
Make no mistake, this is a VERY dark and depressing album. It is vital that you understand that by dark, I do not mean the theatrical evil act that metal bands shamelessly delve in, but very real and very serious melancholiac suffering that is very clearly displayed in musical form. There is not one lighthearted moment in “Shadows of the Sun’s” entirety. Of course, Ulver has always been more in tune with the darker spectrums of music; (Even having a couple of black-metal albums under their belts.) but not even this foresight could prepare you for the downright bleak and beaten experience that embodies this release. The album almost entirely lacks percussion, giving it an almost ambient feel. “Shadows of the Sun” is made up mainly of slow, subtle melodies, driven by weeping string sections, and sometimes choral like effects. There is even an appearance of a trumpet on three of the tracks which really adds a nice shimmer to this dark sonic pool. While being undeniably melancholic, this is still a very intelligent album that is still unmistakably Ulver. The piano sections, particularly in `Like Music’ are absolutely beautiful, as are most of the arrangements throughout “Shadows of the Sun.” in their own grey and twisted manner. The only slight fault I can possibly convict this album of is its length, clocking in at barely over 40 minutes. Then again, perhaps the short length is only meant to protect us from becoming overly immersed in this bleak state of existence.
This album has a very distinctive beaten feel about it, as music seems to collapse under the weight of the unjust world. The very heavy emotions that have been so vividly captured in this work of art are sure to bring even the most lighthearted listener down into the depths of momentary depression. Surely to some of you, this sounds like nothing you would voluntarily want to put yourself through, as if you don’t have enough problems in our day to day lives to deal with without Ulver’s very real display of utter sorrow. Personally, I find this album very therapeutic, taking me and my hyperactive imagination to a myriad of cloudy places. Granted this album is definitely not for everyone, though I suspect if you find Ulver’s previous releases as enchanting as I do, then you will not be disappointed. Ulver’s “Shadows of the Sun” is definitely not something that I would listen to on a daily basis, but nevertheless is an impeccable work of beautiful art, that deserves recognition.
This album was so predictable. It was predictable because Ulver is so unpredictable, that it is predictable that their next album will be unpredictable. After 2005’s “Blood Inside” and its off-the-wall, wacky character, this album makes it sound like the universe has gone cold. This is a very low-key, atmospheric electronic work of art. It is on the opposite side of the spectrum of their more upbeat albums. However, it is somewhat similar to their somber work such as “Svidd Neger,” “Lyckantropen Themes,” and perhaps “Silence Teaches you How to Sing” and “Silencing the Singing.”
If you’re the dedicated Ulver fan, I don’t need to tell you that they are an ever-evolving band with a different trick up their sleeve every time they release something. You know this, and this is why you like Ulver. In this case, you should already have this album. If you like the above EPs and soundtracks I mentioned above, you are much more likely to enjoy this album. If you only like Ulver’s more upbeat electronic music, like “Themes from William Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven & Hell,” “Perdition City,” and “Blood Inside,” you may not like this as much, or at all. And if you only like their black metal and folk, well, I have no idea what to tell you.
This is perhaps the first Ulver album I would actually describe as “depressing” though. Sure, the above albums had overall dark atmospheres, but I’ve described them as more “experimental,” “laid-back”, “lonely,” perhaps “eerie.” For the first time, this album is depressing. But that’s ok.
I have to admit, this is far from Ulver’s best achievement. Still earning 5 stars in my book, because some of Ulver’s earlier work is so amazing they will probably never make anything that comes close to it. I’m not saying it is disappointing by any means, but parts of some songs could use at least a little more spark. Most of the songs sound very similar. But hey, I’m certain it will grow on me. I thought the same thing about Lyckantropen – that probably took me 2 years to fully appreciate.
“Vigil” is probably the most interesting, maybe the best song on here, beginning with some arbitrary electronic noises that sound strikingly similar to “The Future Sound of Music” from “Perdition City”, then introducing a lush, dreamlike piano melody, some creepy whispering, and almost chorus-like vocals with a rich electronic harmony in the background. In fact the whole album pretty much has that rich electronic harmony, consisting of synthesized violins and strings, pianos, and sometimes hums and choirs. “All the Love” probably breaks through the general feel of the album the most, with a brief, upbeat, almost theatrical-like portion.
As a previous reviewer mentioned, this album should be listened to in a room by yourself, with headphones, in the dark, for the most satisfying experience and to appreciate it to its fullest, along with any other Ulver album really. He also mentions the room should have no windows or doors, which I don’t necessarily recommend, because if there’s a room with no windows OR doors, then there’s no way to get into that room in the first place, unless you maybe bust through the wall, which paradoxically creates a makeshift door, and does significant damage to you or whomever’s property it is, or perhaps, build the entire room around you, which would take a lot of hard work, a long time, and knowledge about construction, and then you would be stuck in that room, unless you kept a sledgehammer in there to bust yourself out. Either way, I think you need at least one door or window in the room you plan on listening “Shadows in the Sun” in, for when it is over, you’ll probably need to return to reality.