Ulver (1993-present): a Black Metal band from Oslo, Norway.
lver (the Norwegian word for "wolves") has proven to be somewhat of an anomaly in the heavy metal genre due to their unique musical experimentation. Ulver was the brainchild of vocalist Kristoffer Rygg, also known as Garm and now as Trickster G. Ulver started off as a simple black metal band, though their tenure they can be best described as unconventional. Their style world soon form into an experimental electronica act with black metal influences.
Ulver's 1994 debut, Bergtatt - Et Eeventyr i 5 Capitler, featuring Garm (vocals), Håvard Jorgensen (guitar), Aismal (Real Name: Torbjørn Pedersen; guitar), Skoll (Real Name: Hugh Stephen James Mingay; bass) and AiwarikiaR (Real Name: Erik Olivier Lancelot; drums) is often considered the most "normal" album they've ever recorded. The debut was an old-school black metal affair not much different from their contemporaries. The follow-up, Kveldssanger (1995) was another matter though, being essentially an all-acoustic black metal album, with traditional Norse folk melodies and chants. Aismal and Skoll were also missing from the line-up by now, with no replacements.
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1997's Nattens madrigal with Aismal and Skoll back was a return to business as normal. This album was more raw and basic than the debut, with lyrical themes based entirely on wolves as well as the album titles. The album received international exposure through German label 'Century Media'. However, following discord with the label, Rygg formed his own imprint, 'Jester Records', by the following year.
After the release of their 1997 box set, The Trilogie: Three Journeyes Through the Norwegian Netherworlde, all of a sudden, and in one of the most drastic changes in style in heavy metal history, Ulver were no longer a black metal band with their release of Themes From William Blake's The Marriage Of Heaven And Hell (1999), the title alone leading one to question the contents. A new position had been added to the band in the form of Tore Ylwizaker on programming. Indeed, their Metamorphosis EP was a very appropriately titled release that continued along these lines and was exclusively a production of Rygg and Ylwizaker. With 2000s Perdition City their transformation from a black metal band was complete, as not only was their black metal past just that - the past, but so was much of their relation to heavy metal at all! Ulver was now diving deep into the pools of electronica and hip-hop and other ambient forms of music.
Silence Teaches You How To Sing EP (2001) featured only one long track and added member Jørn H. Sværen filling in on miscellaneous instruments needed, that was followed by Silencing The Singing EP (2001), two releases featuring titles that snubbed the nose at those who failed to accept their changes.
The experimentation would continue with Lycanktropen Themes (2002; soundtrack of short film Lycanktropen), A Quick Fix Of Melancholy EP (2003), Svid Neger (2003), Teachings In Silence compilation (2003), and a release of both Silence... EPs compiled titled 1993-2003: 1st Decade in the Machines (2003). Blood Inside (2005) and Shadows of the Sun (2007).
For Wars of the Roses (2011), Daniel O'Sullivan had joined on guitars/bass/keyboards/narration.
Childhood's End (2012) was a reinterpretation of '60s psychedelia intended by Ulver as a reflection on lost innocence. Messe I.X-VI.X (2013), ATGCLVLSSCAP (2016) and Riverhead (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) (2016) followed. Ole Aleksander Halstensgård provided additional various instruments for The Assassination of Julius Caesar (2017).
The EP Sic Transit Gloria Mundi (2017), the live set Drone Activity (2019) and Flowers of Evil (2020) followed.
Footnote: Ulver has used a large number of session musicians during their career, those of note have been: A. Reza (guitar), Grellmund (guitar; died on New Year`s Eve 1997/98), Carl-Michael Eide (a.k.a. Aggressor/a.k.a. Czarl; drums; ex-(DHG, Aura Noir, Dimmu Borgir, Cadaver Inc, Darkthrone, Ved Buens Ende, Fleurety, Void, Inferno, Virus (Norway), Satyricon, White Willow, Cadaver)), Knut Magne Valle (guitar; ex-(Arcturus, Fleurety)) and Jan Axel von Blomberg (a.k.a. Hellhammer; drums).
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