ULVER — Bergtatt: Et Eeventyr I 5 Capitler

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ULVER - Bergtatt: Et Eeventyr I 5 Capitler cover
4.36 | 40 ratings | 8 reviews
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Album · 1995


1. Capitel I: I Troldskog Faren Vild (7:51)
2. Capitel II: Soelen Gaaer Bag Aase Need (6:34)
3. Capitel III: Graablick Blev Hun Vaer (7:44)
4. Capitel IV: Een Stemme Locker (4:01)
5. Capitel V: Bergtatt - Ind I Fjeldkamrene (8:06)

Total Time 34:17


- Garm / vocals
- Haavard / guitar
- Aismal / guitar
- Skoll / bass
- AiwarikiaR / drums

- Lill Kathrine Stensrud / flute, vocals
- Sverd / piano

About this release

November 30, 1995
Head Not Found

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Specialists/collaborators reviews

Ulver, The Trilogie Part I: Bergtatt - Et Eeventyr i 5 Capitler (1995)

Norway's Ulver are a band that went on to be associated with genres other than metal, but when they started they were a black metal act appearing during the height of the early Norwegian black metal scene. With their debut album Bergtatt - Et Eeventyr i 5 Capitler they were also an early example of the atmospheric black metal sub-genre. With the album the band produced a genre classic, one that ultimately ended up being their only album in this particular style.

I know that a lot of people still like what Ulver went on to become and that later electronic/ambient albums like Perdition City (2000), Blood Inside (2005) and Shadows of the Sun (2007) are particularly well regarded, but when I approach Bergtatt from the metalhead perspective I come away with only a single thought: what a waste.

Here, Ulver show off their addition of elements to the atmospheric black metal genre that would later become common features, such as the inclusion of dark folk influences. With the opening track Capitel I: I Troldskog Faren Vild they also have a very early example of the unusual phenomenon that is black metal with clean vocals, which continue to appear prominently through the whole release. Writing this review in 2017 as I am it isn't hard to hear where the current blackgaze scene took a lot of its cues from, as well as similarly folk and clean vocal based atmospheric black metal acts such as Myrkur. I find it undeniable that Bergtatt was a groundbreaking black metal release, coming out in 1995 as it did.

Bergtatt is a short album, as many black metal albums were during the nineties (and still can be, actually), clocking it at around thirty-four minutes. It doesn't matter because it's the kind of release that gets the job it was meant to do done and does a lot during that short time. After the first track, Capitel II: Soelen Gaaer Bag Aase Need initially seems to suggest a continuance in the same direction, but then vocalist Garm finally releases his growl to show the album's true colour, but things spend a lot of time alternating between the black metal and folk music, growls and clean singing, making it a rather varied release. I can't be too sure without researching every atmospheric black metal album from 1995 and before, but I'm not sure that there were anything else quite like this at the time, when most atmospheric black metal followed the ambient/dungeon synth path as laid down by acts like Burzum.

An early masterpiece of atmospheric black metal, I'd say that Ulver's Bergtatt is one of those albums that should be in any fan of the genre's collection. I'll reiterate my earlier statement now: what a waste. If Bergtatt is anything to go by, it would have been glorious to have been able to hear where the band could have gone with this style had they kept it up. Ulver would return to black metal for one more album after this, but Nattens Madrigal - Aatte Hymne til Ulven i Manden (1997) would turn out to be a very different kind of black metal Ulver.
siLLy puPPy
ULVER (Norwegian for 'wolves') has become one of the strangest and most eclectic bands in the universe over their two decade span of releasing albums and that uniqueness begins right here on their debut release BERGTATT – ET EEVENTYR I 5 CAPITLER (Spellbound – A Fairy Tale In 5 Chapters). The first thing you hear is a fast drum roll and then kicks in black metal riffing but what really grabs your attention is the Gregorian chant vocals that accompany it. Eventually the clean vocals give way to the expected raspy shrieks and screams more typical of the second wave but the interplay between the two styles is the basis of this entire album which was inspired by Scandinavian folktales. What's really going on here is two distinct styles of the album taking place. One is in an aggressive black metal style and the other is in an acoustic folk style with the monk-like chanting. These two styles usually trade off with each other but often they coincide with one taking the lead role at any given moment.

The album is actually considered part of the “Black Metal Trilogy”even though the second album lacks the metal part of the equation. In addition to the fusion of styles, ULVER set themselves apart from other black metal bands of the day by focusing their lyrics around myths and fantastical worlds instead of anti-Christianity, national pride or other hateful themes. The folk sections consist of beautiful classical acoustic guitar, cello and flute. The black metal parts pack in all the aggressive fury one would hope for but what really works is how well it is all mixed together and all the trading off of sounds is perfect. Before you know it the album goes by way too fast. A very unique album that obviously influenced later acts such as Agalloch and Deathspell Omega. Despite being lumped into the black metal universe it is clear from one listen to this beautiful beast that ULVER were on their own trajectory and it's one that i'm glad I have finally latched on to.
Conor Fynes
'Bergtatt' - Ulver (9/10)

To me, Ulver are one of the all-time most intriguing bands. It would be difficult for me to name another band who is so versatile, and manages to produce masterpieces that vary wildly. Released when frontman Krystoffer Rygg was still in his teens, 'Bergtatt' is considered to be a classic opus of the then-relatively young style of black metal. Ulver have since gone down a path of avant-garde ambient music that now has little to do with metal or even rock, but 'Bergtatt' is enough to plant the band as an essential of black metal. Years before Agalloch or Drudkh made their mark, Ulver laid down the foundation for this arboreal sound in atmospheric black metal. Taking the ambiance of Burzum and taking it two steps further, 'Bergtatt' is as relevant today as it was in 1994.

Many modern metalheads may draw comparisons to Agalloch when listening to 'Bergtatt.' It should be appreciated, however, that Ulver crafted this sound first. The black metal mold had been forged over the decade prior,and Ulver furnishes it with lavish arboreal folk instrumentation, melodic riffs, and even clean vocals; something that was often looked down upon in black metal. 'Bergtatt' was indeed ahead of its time, although nothing on the album feels contrived or forced to sound 'progressive' in the commonly used sense of the word. Split into five chapters, 'Bergtatt' is not afraid to incorporate acoustic guitars as a primary element in the sound. Many bands dabbled with mellower dimensions, but they often were used merely to break up the intense black metal, as opposed to, you know, complimenting the musical experience directly. Of course, no masterpiece would be complete without masterful composition, and this is something that sees no shortage in 'Bergtatt'. Ulver hit a sweet spot that balances harshness and warmth, black metal and folk, melodic sensibilities and melancholic aggression. To mention that Ulver were in their teens when 'Bergatt' was produced only makes the feat more admirable.

Potentially the only time when I could be convinced that 'Bergtatt' is not perfect is with the more puritanical black metal elements here. Like the rest of the album, they are performed with passionate intensity and a sense of purpose, but in the midst of some of the most beautiful acoustic guitars ever heard in metal, and a wonderfully arboreal sense of melody in the cleaner moments, the times when Ulver goes full-force with the blastbeats and dark energy feels underwhelming by comparison.That's not nearly enough to keep me from calling 'Bergtatt' a masterpiece, however. It is essential listening for anyone even remotely interested in black metal; it is rivaled only by Mayhem's 'De Mysteriis Dom Santhanas' as the most glorious classic of black metal.
Ulver's debut album is categorised as black metal solely because Bergtatt visits that territory more regularly than any other. But when you have this strange mixture of atmospheric black metal pitched to emphasise a sense of cold otherworldliness as opposed to the aggression of bands such as Mayhem, interspersed with folky acoustic guitar which occasionally moves into the spotlight for a folk interlude, vocals shifting constantly between typical black metal shrieks, strange intonations, and more or less clean singing, and all the other features the band cram into this album, it's clear that what we're dealing with here is a group at the very edge of the avant-garde of black metal as it existed at the time.
The Angry Scotsman
One of the more innovative, and influential, albums in metal.

This album must have been quite a surprise in the mid 90's Norwegian Black Metal scene, which was all about grinding and blasting away, shrieking about Satan, and violence both in and outside the scene. While "Bergtatt" does have all the staples of black metal: grim sound, raw guitars, tremolo picking, blast beats, and shrieking vocals... there is much more then that.

These are alternated with slower, more melodic sections, choir like chanting vocals, and acoustic guitar. There is even a fully acoustic song, featuring minimal acoustic guitar and somber vocals. Very haunting song.

The intro song is entirely mid paced, with long chains of double bass, (which I always thought was more hypnotic and melancholic than blast beats) and clean hymn like singing. There is even an ambient guitar solo, an acoustic break and goes out on a folky melody. This song is a great example of black metal can be done well, truly melancholic and moving, bleak but never being over the top or painfully cheesy.

The lyrics deal with Norwegian folklore, the album title meaning "Taken by the Mountains - A Tale in 5 Chapters" influenced by the legend that people were lured into in the mountains by trolls, presumably to be lost forever, "taken" by the mountains. Nice touch having the album read like a story, with the songs being "chapters".

This album is what most black metal claims to be: hypnotic, melancholic, bleak and does so without diving into borderline camp and self parody. The contrasting music styles of folk and black metal keep the album interesting, and makes the extreme parts feel even more extreme instead of boring and unrelenting. The acoustic guitars, folklore/mythological lyrics, hymn like singing, and emphasis on melody mixed with grim black metal gives this album a unique feel, and was a great influence on folk metal and any black metal band that incorporated folky and progressive elements.

Even back in 1995, Garm was out to show he was not your typical musician. Great album.

Four Stars
Black Metal meets shoe gazer Britpop. The opening track of this album won me over in no time. Though the music is fairly standard, the beautiful melodies of the clean dreamy vocals are a treat. The song are quite extended with a repetitive drone that reminds me of krautrock and electronic music, even though it's all guitars, bass and drums. Also folksy themes crop up, making this track quite an interesting blend of styles.

The second piece starts as an instrumental folk tune with acoustic guitars and flutes. It quickly changes into a fast-paced Black Metal attack with both sharp snarls and melodic vocals. For many listeners, the change Ulver did towards ambient music may have come as a surprise but even their black metal already has the approach to sonic texture that is typical for ambient music. This is even more prominent on the third track, featuring the typical black metal primal blast beats that create the same effect as aggressive nihilistic techno beats. Soundscape and primal rhythm, the pillars of both black metal and techno, though few fans of either genre will like to hear it, the similarities of their music are obvious. Ok, admitted, techno fans don't burn churches.

Track 4 is entirely acoustic and atmospheric, an obvious inspiration for Agalloch. The last track returns to the mix of tribal rhythm, black metal nihilism, folk influences and dreamy pop vocals.

Ulver's debut is not an easy listen but it is most intriguing, captivating and highly influential.
Bergtatt is the marvelous debut album of Ulver, at the time a very influential black metal band. Unlike many of its contemporaries, Bergtatt does not only include the harshness of black metal, but combines this with the beauty of Norse folk music expressed through a concept revolving around a girl lost in a forest of trolls.

The album opens with a brief drum fill, taking us to what might be the best piece on this album. “I Troldskog Faren Vild” showcases the excellent combination of beauty and beast. Rough riffs drive the song, but the vocals that are sung over it are no conventional black metal vocals. No, they’re chanted choir-like vocals that work very well in creating a beautiful feeling. Though these kind of vocals make a frequent appearance on other songs too, vocalist Garm also uses the more conventional ferocious black metal shrieks frequently, like on the second song, “Soelen Haaer Bag Aase Need”.

Like already mentioned earlier, Ulver combines black metal with folk on this album. Most of the songs have classical acoustic passages, and there even is a completely acoustic track on the album, “Een Stemme Locker”. Another memorable part of the album are the middle few minutes of the third song, where sounds are heard of the girl making her way through the forest accompanied by gentle and delicate piano playing. The combination of these benign acoustic parts and the fierce black metal gives Bergtatt a feeling of beauty with a solitary and melancholic undertone.

Ulver has created a fantastic album with Bergtatt. Its combination of black metal and acoustic folk takes care of all possible repetitivity that one could find in black metal and therefore might even attract those who don’t enjoy the genre in general.

Members reviews

Primeval Scum
YOU. Stop scrolling down the page. Yes, you. You should listen to Bergtatt. It's not your standard black metal, I promise. It's my second-favorite black metal album. Everything about it is perfect, from the vocals to the musicianship to the song arrangements. Ulver smashed the standards set by the black metal bands before them and created their own, one that no one since has exceeded. It's beautifully atmospheric and seamlessly integrated with acoustic and Scandinavian folk sounds. It has quite the celestial, ethereal atmosphere. Garm's vocals are amazing, how he switches between his angelic chanted clean vocals and otherworldy shrieks.

I Troldskog Faren Vild is an absolute black metal classic. It is the standout song on the album. The extended guitar solo at the end is one of the most spine-chilling moments in all of metal. "Soelen Gaaer Bag Aase Need" and "Graablick Blev Hun Vaer" are almost equally good. The clean vocals are surprisingly PERFECT for the music and I absolutely love the abrupt dynamic changes showcased on these first three tracks. This is truly serene yet sinister, enchanting music. It cannot get much better. I especially love the folk sections Garm adds, like the beginning of Capitel III, most of Capitel IV, and the end of Capitel V.

Oh gosh, I'm going on and on like a fanboy. Oops. I'll just let you listen to it for yourself.

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