album review: Ulver – Messe I.X -VI.X

listen here.

The cover of this album perfectly sums up the music: an eerily, ambient, black metal classical album.

Ulver is a Norwegian band as the main project of vocalist Kristoffer Rygg.  Ulver is typically known for their black metal style, but have a knack through the years exploring different genres (industrial, gothic metal, sythn rock, psychedelic rockacoustic, ambient).  Messe I.X – VI.X was released in collaboration with the Tromsø Chamber Orchestra.   It’s an epic ambient electronic masterpiece that sounds like a black metal band took the themes they’ve been perfecting and recorded the album with strings and electronics.  The music could easily be used in a horror movie soundtrack.

Messe has a natural arch, climaxing at Son of Man with vocals taking center stage to lead the song.  The rest of album resolves into a mellow resolution, bringing back the ambiance in a type of closure to the work.

Admittedly my first exposure to them was Messe I.X – VI.X and so coming in with a clean slate I enjoy what they accomplished.  If I were a long time fan I could see the changing of genres as a typically frustrating experience, unaware of which band would show up on the next album.  However  the only constant is change, and for an artist to put out 21 albums it could be monotonous to release the same piece over and over again. Props to the dude for continually challenging himself.

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