Genre: Black Metal/Folk
Country: Norway
Label: Century Media Records
Year: 2014

Ulver’s known trilogy is by now a fundamental chapter in the book of Norwegian black metal and their early years are worshiped by many fans to this day. Not only did they influence the modern dark folk scene heavily with their second album, but also did they shake the waters of the scene with their first and third, each one containing some of the best moments of northern extreme music.

“Trolsk Sortmetall” is a compilation of their first material, including all three of the full lengths, a Nattens Madrigal rehearsal as well as the classic Vargnatt demo from 1993. There is a fully remastered sound and it’s a release approved by the band, so this piece of jewelry is a must for fans and not only.

Opening with Vargnatt, one can clearly recognize the ease and the comfort Ulver had with switching between black metal and melodic acoustics, the demo inducing eerie atmosphere of Norwegian mountains and forests, very lively and accurate of the second wave back then. The variety of the vocals and the mythic riffs are apparent, making the demo a hell of a start.

It wasn’t until the debut Bergtatt (in English: Spellbound – A Fairy Tale in 5 Chapters) though that they fully convinced the world of their capabilities. They perfected the weak aspects of their earlier stuff, they got stronger in terms of composition / song structure and they built an one of a kind atmosphere as a basis. Focusing on a folktale about a girl being lured into the mountains by trolls and other mythic creatures, their tracks are mesmerizing and intense, as if one lives the tale themselves. The sound is a bit different than the original version, mainly in the “harsh” parts, giving the drums more volume than before. I can’t pick any standout tracks, because all five are beyond beauty, this needs to be listened whole.

I haven’t found many bands with such a talent in acoustic guitar sound, the sound I was impressed with before listening to Kveldssanger, the band’s second album. It’s a purely acoustic record with a capella tracks, an innovation for it’s time, and all in all magical. It’s tracks like “Naturmystikk”, “Høyfjeldsbilde”, “Ulvsblakk” and “Hiertets vee” that gave birth to neofolk and the likes today. This version of Kveldssanger contains a fourteenth track too named “Synen”, which was only included in a 1998 Various Artists album so far, titled Souvenirs from Hell.

Going on to the gargantuan third record, Nattens Madrigal, and I should stand in awe as long as it lasts instead of writing this. Only with Darkthrone have I felt that the traditional sound of this genre, from the heart of Norway and the hands of it’s musical visionaries, has reached it’s peak. Nattens Madrigal is of historical importance, an absolute masterpiece that contains excellent riffs and solos, excellent changes, excellent musicianship, meaning it stands for excellence. Plus, and this is daring to say, there has been a recovering of the record’s sound and I think I like this remastered version a bit more, as if the bleak, hurting noise has left and only the beautiful raw content remained.

Apart from the main releases, the package contains a Nattens Madrigal-era reheasal, containing four tracks from there, something for the die hard fans to feast on. A book with more than 100 pages and a detailed commentation on the first era of the band comes along too, it worths more than you think! Official Ulver vinyls stand above anything “almost authentic” that was available the last few years…

5,5/6