First, you must forgive me. I do not own any official copy of this first Ulver release; not the original self-released cassette, nor the hastily sold-out 10″ released by The End in 2002. My version is the bootleg cassette Ondes Triumph, complete with the rehearsal cassette from the same year (way better than that Immortal-“split cd”, yet still lame). The rehearsal-side is a low-volume instrumental take on the Vargnatt tracks, with the addition of “Enser Du Vinter” and Celtic Frost cover “Babylon Fell”. That’s about it.
Ulvers seminal (and only) demo release is however a fancy statement that the early Norwegian black metal scene truly was a creative climate for aspiring and daring musicians. Ulver especially, as they have proven their unicity over and over again these last 14 years. Vargnatt is to me one of their most innovative releases, along with the Blake album of ’98 and Blood Inside of ’05.
They are here as always fronted by Kris “Garm” Rygg, who was an astounding and multifaceted vocalist already at the tender age of 17. He ranges from the enchanting whispers of the acoustic track Trollskogen (almost superior to Kveldssanger), to the spiteful gnarls and eerily haunting howls of the title track, to the operatic falsetto of Tragediens Trone… Quite out of tune, but fitting perfectly to the raw passion of this necrotic masterpiece.
The guitar works are as inspired, with folk-like acustic guitar leads, at points jazzy chords, intertwined with gothrock melodies and primitive Hellhammer riffing. Czral’s percussion is a shaky embryo that would become Written In Waters some years later; odd beats with strange yet groovy fills, backbeats, all reaching far beyond your ordinary metallic styles. (Note the cowbell, awesome!)
Vargnatt is the primeval quintessence of Ulver’s Trilogie; the satanic energy, haunting yet calm beauty and and romantic melancholy of the mighty Norwegian Forests, and those who dwell there in. An inspiring soundtrack for a solemn and hateful stroll through the woods at dusk (make that pine or fir, not wimpy birch).
Label: Self-released / Bootlegged
Avantgenre: Jazz-tinged Folksy Black Metal
Official site: http://www.jester-records.com/ulver
Review online since: 30.06.2007 / 23:18:28
1. Her Begynte Mine Arr…
2. Tragediens Trone
4. Ulverytternes Kamp
5. Nattens Madrigal