Ulver - War of the Roses
Ulver – War of the Roses

I admit to being a great admirer of Ulver’s changes, I have followed the “Norwegian wolves” since the beginning of their never linear musical journey, always surprising and unsettling, so as to label them (what an ugly word …) as the cutting edge of an extreme music scene so bleak as the present one. I’m one of the lucky few who have seen them in both their two Italian concerts and if last year I came back excited by their live performance at Rasi theater, a few weeks ago I was rather puzzled by their show at Bronson, in Ravenna again.

First I had the proof that a band like that is to listen sitting back and letting the mind and the images resulting from their music to travel free and undisturbed, without any kind of distractions due to standing up or the inability to remain enveloped in the visual projections so dear to our scandinavian. Then disappointment, is the dominant feeling in hearing live this War of the Roses enhanced by the revival of just one old song (Hallways of Always). Backing home, comforted by the wonderful just purchased Ulver T-shirt , I tried a more carefully second listening without finding the expected satisfaction. The former Shadow of the Sun once more had my ears blown away, slipping into a gentle and resigned intimacy leaving very pleasant background sensations, one thing is certain: with every album, Ulver, taught me not to live with old memories and the fact of never knowing what to expect, a sort of excitement that only the unknown can give, is what I always liked about Kristoffer Rygg‘s band.
Album production is by John Fryer (Depeche Mode, Cocteau Twins, Swans), then a guarantee, but the opening February MMX has the feel of a song already heard, something like Lost in Moments lost oll gasp, but most of all (worst to me) feels like an episode completely detached from the rest of the disc: a “filler” track more than the single that launched the album on Facebook. Listening to Norwegian Gothic brings back the good mood: the track is not linear, noir, bizarre, and his distortions are so nice to merit more than a play. The intimacy of Providence wakes for a moment the atmosphere of Shadow of the Sun and the female voice is a sweet caress, September IV has a gait that you immediately appreciate, but only in the second part it shows off its best part. England has the thickness of a piece of interim but Island is an avant-garde gem that finally lets me back nicely displaced and takes me Blood Inside strong and mixed emotions. The voice of Daniel O’Sullivan reigns in the final”suite”, the minimal and sacral Stone Angels, a song that almost moved me in the live performance, but heard in the album contest and despite a really thrilling final, results a bit bulky with its 15 minutes out of 45 total.
I will always love Ulver, that’s for sure, but I cannot mask my disappointment, and despite the merit that (maybe) will have to launch the band to a slice of the broader public, in my modest opinion”War of the Roses” signs a small step back from my feverish expectations.
the dominant feeling in listening to the new live album

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