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Madrigal of the Night (Nattens Madrigal)

1 rating: 5.0
An album by Ulver
1 review about Madrigal of the Night (Nattens Madrigal)

"Eight hymns to the wolf in man."

  • Oct 15, 2003
Ulver's first album, _Bergtatt_, presented two distinct sides of the band: their raw, melodic black metal side and their roots in Norwegian folk music. Their second album, _Kveldssanger_, delved purely into acoustic Norse folk. For equilibrium's sake, Ulver turns to ultra-grim black metal for their third release.

Legend (well maybe not LEGEND...rumor, perhaps) has it this album was recorded on a 4-track in a forest somewhere, and it certainly sounds like it. On its technical merits, this is one of the worst-recorded official release I've ever heard. I don't find it PAINFUL like some reviewers, but it's definitely ugly. (If you want something really brutal and deadly, check out "Never Again" by John Zorn, on his excellent album _Kristallnacht_, and Merzbow's classic _1930_.) BUT, the overall aesthetic substantiates the sheer rawness and atmosphere conveyed. Telling of men, wolves, the moon, and the dark power of lycanthropy (all in archaic Danish, no less), this album exudes pure atmosphere such that there is a layer of frost blanketing the room upon its completion. This album would have not have been so great if it had been beautifully recorded.

The whole album sounds like it is coming through a wintry tempest, with sound sharp and buzzing. Melodic tremolo picked guitars, withering frosty distortion, and screeching vocals dominate the mix. The tinny, blasting drums and pulsing bass sound like they were recorded far away from any microphones. Garm's vocals on this album are entirely screaming -- there is none of his eerie, ethereal chanting but perhaps it would not have suited this. His bloody, scraping voice sounds like a dying winter spirit. The riffs are ultra-melodic and beautiful, but very simple. The drumming is nearly non-stop black metal blastbeats. There is one brief twin acoustic guitar passage near the beginning, but mostly the album is a relentless metal gale. The only other respite from the metal is found with some short, nocturnal soundscapes between the songs. All of the songs are excellent in atmosphere, although there isn't much variety between them. My favorite songs are all of them, but if I could only choose one it would be "Wolf & the Devil". I honestly don't think I can explain why this album is so great. It just has a sound and mood unlike any I've heard before.

A few words about Ulver's albums in general. The first three, the "black metal trilogy," are the most beautiful metal I have heard. Technically _Kveldssanger_ isn't a metal album but it fits the character of the other two. Ulver injects profound lyricism and beauty into a genre of music that is often violent and evil. Essential, and highly recommended, as is everything Ulver does. Electronic Ulver is completely different but remarkable and they just seem to keep getting more interesting. If you're new, get _Bergtatt_ for metal Ulver and _Perdition City_ for electronic Ulver.

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Madrigal of the Night (Nattens Madrigal)
Label: Century Media
Artist: Ulver
Release Date: April 8, 1997

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