Bergtatt 9 ( 1994 ) I Troldskog Faren Vild / Soelen Gaaer Bag Aase Need / Graablick Blev Hun Vaer / Een Stemme Locker / Bergtatt - Ind I Fjeldkamrene
Old Norwegian lyrics, lovely cover art and essentially black-metal music. Nothing
is really as it first appears however. Oh, it would be very easy to dismiss this
album after just a few listens. It would also be very easy for me to pretend I
perfectly understand the concept without admitting to reading up about the concept,
but who would I be fooling? I don't understand Norwegian. There, hands up, I admit
it. Also, I don't go searching the Internet high and low and then presenting others
thoughts as my own. So, we can deduce clearly from the cover art a dark forest and
sense of foreboding. We can tell from the tracklisting we have 'five chapters'. We
can also, from experience of listening, tell that this thirty five minute album is
meant to be listened to as a whole and than excerpting a single track on last.fm to
be listened to as a primer for the entire concept is doomed to failure. 'Bergtatt'
is a very tightly sequenced album, or 'story' if you want to get pretentious. We
vary from songs featuring furnace-blasts of metal drums and guitars through to
acoustic pieces and these contrasts give this album versatility and depth.
The first moments we hear on record are quite something, really. These first
moments demonstrate a unique talent in the making and don't just show another run
of the mill death metal band. We get a flurry of drums playing impossibly fast. We
get a guitar playing keeping up with the drummer, thrashing away violently. We get
another guitar player, and apologies as I'm not a musician myself, playing more
sustained, droning parts. The singer comes in and you of course expect him to
growl, but instead he sings cleanly, rather beautifully. In the middle of the song,
we get some decent guitar solos whilst the drummer continues to cause severe pain
to his arms and shoulder blades. The bass rumbles ever onwards too until we get to
a section approximately five and a half minutes in. Everything drops out bar an
acoustic guitar playing in an echo filled room, switching moods by reaching into
folk and classical. The tempo switches as the band rejoin for a sequence with a
tremendously exciting riff, another excellent solo from the lead guitar and so
forth. Another acoustic interlude leads into the second track and now we get some
growling, a very dark atmosphere. No actual obvious violent intent, which is
interesting because isn't that what puts a lot of people off this genre?
I love 'Capitel IV: Een Stemme Locker', whatever that title means. Well, 'Chapter
IV: Something Norwegian', I would imagine. We get a deep, intoning kind of bass
vocal, scary clicking sounds, a repeating four note guitar motif, whispering, some
more intricate and very beautiful acoustic and female vocals weave in like ghosts
from the Eighteenth century. The third track here includes a sequence of someone
running, weaving in and out of branches and clearly distressed. Interestingly, it
still holds up to repeated listening because 'Bergtatt' is just so very atmospheric
throughout. It's a play, a movie, an album and also, something to live in whilst it
is playing. A special word for the closing number, which I love. The droning lead
guitar is re-introduced playing very interesting stuff, the bass weaves in some
good melodies as does the second guitar. The drums continue at furnace-blast speed.
Acoustic interludes are always interesting and the closing sequence, the last few
minutes, is just sublime beautifully aggressive noise.
Since I first picked up this album, a good six months ago at the time of writing,
I've picked it up, put it away again yet always come back to it because this album
really does have something special. The production is relatively lo-fi, the music
Ulver play here never reaches the all-out aggression of some of their
contemporaries and there is an absence of real nastiness which is actually welcome.
Well, either nastiness or stupidity, I can't quite decide which. I never thought
I'd come across an intelligent death-metal album then, let alone one which contains
so many ideas so well creatively executed.
How do you know these are old Norwegian lyrics? You clearly have no idea of that black-metal thing, yet a typically genuine and addictive review, made me want to listen to Ulver again. Just a tip now, death metal and black metal are different, like Yes Vs the Fall; high-requiring creativity Vs lo-fi genius.Are you listening now, boy?