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Ulver: Shadows Of the Sun

Ulver have certainly come a long way from their black metal beginnings in the early-mid 1990's. Not content to follow along with the rest of their Norwegian counterparts, Garm & Co. moved into film score territory, techno, folk, hard rock, and industrial soundscapes, proving to be quite the musical chameleons and keeping their fans always on their toes. 2007's Shadows Of the Sun is no different, as the band utilizes influences like Pink Floyd, David Sylvain, Nick Cave, Coil, and Radiohead, to create a haunting listening experience that is hard to classify, but impossible to ignore.

At front and center as always are the poignant, mysterious vocals of Trickster G., better known to all as Garm. His melancholy vocals emit an almost Roger Waters-like flavor over the floating electric piano & strings on "All The Love", and he delivers a subdued yet passionate performance on the spacey opener "Eos". Creepy theremin, courtesy of Pamelia Kurstin, as well as oddball noises from Christian Fennesz, permeate the terrifying "Like Music", and "Vigil" is littered with blippy sound effects and whispered vocals from Garm. On the title track, the band starts off with some Univers Zero styled avant-garde tension, slowly building the pace with moments of techno, pop, and melodic prog, featuring some nice piano arrangments and clever drum patterns from Jorn Svaeren. Shades of early Tangerine Dream, as well as Pink Floyd, can be heard on the mysterious "Let the Children Go", a real workout for Tore Ylwizaker, who paints the mix with loads of soundscapes and programming. The minimalist, almost jazzy nature of "Solitude" ( a Black Sabbath cover), complete with some soulful sax, reminds of David Sylvain's work, while "Funebre" is a frightening yet at the same time beautifully haunting instrumental piece that really invokes some serious mood. The closing number "What Happened?" again sees Garm providing a chilling, almost spoken word vocal over spacey, ominous soundscapes, ending the CD on a similar path that it started out with.

Shadows of the Sun is certainly an intriguing listen, and something that you'll need to spend some time with. It's not metal by any means, and realistically, it's more inclined to appeal to the avant-garde crowd than anything else. One drawback is that many of the songs on the CD sound a bit too similar to each other, but there is no doubt a lot of power and passion went into putting these songs together, making it one of the most fascinating "mood" listens of the year.

Track Listing
1. Eos (5:05)
2. All the Love (3:42)
3. Like Music (3:30)
4. Vigil (4:27)
5. Shadows of the Sun (4:36)
6. Let the Children Go (3:50)
7. Solitude (3:53)
8. Funebre (4:26)
9. What Happened? (6:25)

Added: September 24th 2007
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: More Information
Hits: 6324
Language: english

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