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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Ulver - Wars of The Roses (2011)

Band: Ulver
Country: Oslo, Norway
Style: Art Rock/Ambient
Label: Kscope

Here it is, one of my most anticipated releases for this year, Ulver's new album, "Wars of The Roses." Saying I was looking forward to this album would be an understatement, as the Norwegian group has not only been one of the most consistent groups in my catalog, they've released some of my all time favorite albums. Though this new album features a new member, Daniel O'Sullivan, I'm seriously hoping that they're input only makes this album even more unique.
Even before this album was released, the switch from Jester Records to Kscope kind of signaled something different for the band, moving to another label would perhaps put thoughts into some people's heads that this album might possibly be commercial or poppy sounding. Due to the band starting to play live shows in the last two years, this new album definitely has a more organic feel to it, but also maintains a very electronic-based sounds. In an interview, vocalist Kristoffer Rygg had stated that this new album was going back to the more chaotic nature of 2005's "Blood Inside" record, but to me it actually sounds like a mid-point between that record and 2007's "Shadows of The Sun." The music on here has a more rock feeling than the latter album, and is more layered as well, but it's a more stark feeling record, one that feels very melancholy, reminiscent of "Shadows." In addition, I could also say that this album, while it isn't exactly poppy, per se, it could easily be called the band's most accessible album to date.
What you'll find on here definitely has a sound that a lot more people would call "normal," but that's still a stretch, as the odd samples at the end of September IV or the spoken word conclusion of Stone Angels are far from being traditional. I would venture to say that about half of this album's sound makes use of a piano or organ, with tracks like Providence and Island being the two that stick out as the most beautiful sounding tracks on here to me. The composition on here is definitely something that sticks out on here to me as well, with it's minimal use of strings and the use of saxophones and clarinets creating some nice drones in the background or wild solos both only serve to create a mood.
I can safely say that this album did not let me down in any way, though it is a bit of a grower, it's another fantastic album. Filled with unique creativity that is unlike that of any other group or artist, this is hopefully the entrance for many new fans into the band. If you like "arty" music or more rock and pop that's based more around classical sort of composition, or avant-garde stuff, I'd recommend this highly to you.
Overall Score: 9.5
Highlights: Every Track Is A Highlight

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