ULVER — Themes From William Blake's The Marriage Of Heaven And Hell (review)

ULVER — Themes From William Blake's The Marriage Of Heaven And Hell album cover Album · 1998 · Avant-garde Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
UMUR
"Themes From William Blake´s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell" is the 4th full-length studio album by Norwegian experimental metal/rock act Ulver. The album was released through Jester Records in December 1998.

"Themes From William Blake´s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell" is a 2 Disc conceptual release and as the title suggests the lyrical theme revolves around the novel "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell" by William Blake. The album probably came as a big surprise for most fans of the band when it was originally released. The three albums that preceeded this one are all rooted in black metal and Scandinavian folklore. The acoustic folky second album "Kveldssanger (1995)" probably also came as a big surprise when it was released as the debut album "Bergtatt (1994)" is a black metal album. Most fans still saw Ulver as a black metal act though and when they returned with their third album "Nattens Madrigal (1996)", which also saw a return to the black metal style of the debut (but adding a grimmer more raw sound), that seemed to hold true. "Themes From William Blake´s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell" takes Ulver music in a whole new direction though and while they probably lost a few of their most conservative black metal fans they gained new more experimental minded music fans with this release.

Ulver´s music on "Themes From William Blake´s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell" can no longer be called metal. There are sections with distorted guitars but metal it ain´t. Instead there´s much focus on vocals (both male and female, and quite a bit of narration), ambient electronic elements, and a strong emphasis on dark atmosphere. Ambient and atmospheric industrial tinged rock/metal could be a valid description. It´s an album which is all about atmosphere, and listeners craving riffs and hard rocking parts should look elsewhere.

"Themes From William Blake´s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell" is both well performed and well produced, and to those interested in dark atmospheric and ambient music, it´s quite an interesting and obviously well composed album too. Personally I find it lacking memorable moments and it´s a bit overlong too. When the band finally break the ambient monotony and play some louder more rock/metal oriented parts, it´s still pretty monotone and just goes on and on an on with little to hold on to. Subjective opinions and taste in music aside, it´s still obvious that "Themes From William Blake´s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell" is a quality release performed by skilled and passionate performers, and therefore a 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.
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siLLy puPPy wrote:
2 months ago
I just reviewed this last week or so. You gave .5 stars more than me. This album was a good idea but not executed very well. They threw too much into the pot before they could handle it. If anyone was going to re-record and album and do it right, Ulver should with this one.

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