Ulver - _Blood Inside_
(Jester Records, 2005)
by: Pedro Azevedo (8 out of 10)
I tried, then I tried again, and then I tried some more. I've lost count of how many times I've tried to peel away every layer of each of _Blood Inside_'s eclectic tracks in order to find the absolute genius that must dwell inside. I could never seem to believe I was listening to all there was -- not in the sense of hearing everything that was going on, but rather connecting the dots and finding the implications of each section and element; but enough is enough.

A mix between the more fleshed out _Themes From William Blake's The Marriage of Heaven and Hell_ and the more spatious _Perdition City_: now there's a description of what _Blood Inside_ very broadly sounds like, and also one that would be sure to annoy Ulver mastermind Kristoffer "Garm" Rygg, a.k.a. Trickster G. Yet while it may be argued that this is what it sounds like from afar, the music on _Blood Inside_ is actually a progression -- not a straightforward progression; perhaps more of an intertwining and multi-directional (multi-dimensional?) one. If this all sounds abstract and weird, then perhaps that is a reflection of the elements that make up Ulver's latest offering -- or the result of their combination. The variety of musical influences, vocal approaches, orchestral touches, synthetic percussion, electronic manipulations and even occasional electric guitar is staggering. From all the various parts and influences they used to manufacture this album, Ulver have created another album for avantgarde enthusiasts to applaud and old-school purists to deplore.

But first things first, and opening track "Dressed in Black", with its sombre piano, well balanced electronics and vocal delivery succeeds in capturing my interest. "For the Love of God" starts in a similar tone, and while it is more upbeat and chorusy, it keeps things reasonably enjoyable; the use of a guitar solo midway through the song is perhaps noteworthy, but I feel the track should have ended there. "Christmas" features a different, higher range vocal style, busier percussion and bigger orchestral arrangements -- and did I mention lots (and lots) of bells and chimes? After a rather drawn out ending to its predecessor, "Blinded by Blood" continues in a similar vein, with a variety of ambient elements and sound samples (including some strange religious singing); in spite of interesting vocals, this is another track that I think should have been cut in half. "It Is Not Sound" has a lot going on in terms of electronic elements, varied rhythms and some annoying vocal approaches; again the second half is uninteresting, with all its synths as main course. "The Truth" is a very percussive track, with some quick guitar work and use of electronics; rather good overall. "In the Red", for all its echos and myriad recurring elements, only really stands out for its rather jarring and undescribable jazzy second half. "Your Call" is an initially tranquil, but progressively tense, string and vocal based track; Rygg's lower range vocals shine, only a recurring sample of a phone ringing detracts slightly from the result, and it is still possibly the best track on the album. Closing track "Operator" starts at a brisk pace, with a horror film synth screaming from the background, then temporarily giving way to some guitar shredding before the whole thing descends into a vortex of an ending -- and some more bells!

I find it curious that on the front page of Rygg's Jester Records website, _Blood Inside_ is catalogued simply as "experimental". Lack of cohesiveness should not be excused by one's genius or tendency to experiment, and if there is one thing I dislike about this album, it is precisely that. Indeed, each of the non-metal full-length albums Ulver have put out seem to consist just as easily of brilliance, innovation, dullness and annoyance, and _Blood Inside_ is no exception. So far, present day Ulver seemed to work best in small doses: some tracks from _Themes..._, some from _Peridition City_, and bits and pieces from the EPs, especially _A Quick Fix of Melancholy_. As for _Blood Inside_, it does work well as a whole and certainly features some cracking moments, but it is still a bit too hit-and-miss for the obviously huge potential to produce a classic album that Ulver possess.

Contact: http://www.jester-records.com/ulver/

(article published 19/9/2005)

12/9/2007 K Sarampalis 8 Ulver - Shadows of the Sun
5/27/2004 Q Kalis 10 Ulver - A Quick Fix of Melancholy
10/14/2003 P Azevedo 4.5 Ulver - 1993-2003: 1st Decade in the Machines
9/6/2003 A Wee 9 Ulver - Lyckantropen Themes
4/12/2002 Q Kalis 9.5 Ulver - Silencing the Singing
10/19/2001 A Wee 8.5 Ulver - Silence Teaches You How To Sing
6/7/1997 S Hoeltzel 8 Ulver - Nattens Madrigal
4/19/2011 K Sarampalis Ulver / Virus / Zweizz The Wolves Appear on Stage
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