Feb 172024

Oh look! I made a round-up of new songs and videos! Make the motion for slapping me on the back from afar, or at least patting my pointy head.

Yeah, it’s been a long damned time since I pulled one of these things together. Beginning in late January I kept thinking my life would get back to normal after 6 or 7 weeks of being ruthlessly pounded by my day job, but the pounding unexpectedly continued.

I’m at the point of doubting everything, but now it really does seem like my long dark night of the soul has ended, and I can resume what passes for normal activity around the ruined halls of NCS. Continue reading »

Jun 012023

(Karina Noctum has brought us the following interview with two members of the Norwegian band Drott, whose fascinating new album was released not long ago on the label of By Norse Music.)

Drott’s latest album, Troll, left me with the impression of having listened to something unique, and that does not happen too often in the metal world, quite frankly. Drott have an eclectic blend of musical influences. Some of the songs are framed in what can be a pretty dark and cold Norwegian atmosphere, which is something I cherish as a black metal fan. You could not have expected otherwise from a band that features Ivar Thormodsæter (Ulver), Arve Isdal (Enslaved) and Matias Monsen.

In this interview we get interesting insights from Arve and Matias. At the time of this interview the album was set to be released on May 19th, and is out now.

Continue reading »

Aug 242020


(We present Andy Synn‘s review of the new album by Norway’s Ulver, which will be released on August 28th (along with Wolves Evolve: The Ulver Story, a 336-page book that reflects on over 25 years of Ulver history) by House of Mythology.)

It’s fitting that, for all their celebrated critical and commercial success, Ulver today are still perennial outsiders – lone wolves, if you will – who don’t really “fit in” anywhere.

No matter what happens – from shimmering cyber synthscapes to improvised orchestral experiments to pulsing prog-pop exhibitionism – you never really know what to expect.

Even at their most instantly, insistently infectious (and here I must pause to point out that this record is very much a continuation of its predecessor’s decadently danceable, 80s synth-pop approach… although that’s not all it is…) there’s always more to what you’re hearing.

More layers to uncover. More threads to be pulled. A bigger picture waiting to be revealed.

Case in point, if The Assassination… was about what it means to keep on dancing, even as Rome is burning, then Flowers of Evil is about what grows from the ashes. A garden filled with both (un)earthly delights and unwanted weeds. A heaven and a hell, one or the other, sometimes both, of our own creation.

And if we’re all still dancing, it’s to a more sombre tune. Because the cracks are beginning to show, and the bloom is off the rose. Continue reading »

May 132019


(Here’s Andy Synn‘s review of the new album by Ulver, which they released two days ago)

A long time ago, in the distant land of Norway, a band was born.

Their name was Ulver, and though they made their start (and their mark) in the Black Metal scene it was clear very early on that they were a little different from their brothers.

No one at the time, of course, could have predicted the weird and wonderful places that their career would take them, but one thing has always been certain about the band’s music… no matter what they turn their minds towards it always results in something fascinating taking shape.

And it’s this endless fascination with their work – always compelling, sometimes frustrating, yet never quite what it seems to be – which keeps us here at NCS listening to and writing about Ulver regardless of how far their sound has strayed from our usual remit.

As long as they keep making music which inspires us to write about it, we’re going to keep doing so. Continue reading »

Jan 302018


We’re coming down to the wire, and I’m in a frantic state of mind. I’ve now firmly decided to end this list on January 31, but I realized this morning that January 31 IS TOMORROW!!!

I spent hours yesterday afternoon and last night listening to many of the remaining candidates for the list, and reached the conclusion that I have to double-down on these posts. In other words, there will be two installments of this list today and two more tomorrow, and each one is going to include a lot of songs.

This one, as forecast by the title of the post, is devoted to Exceptions to Our Rule (the one in the site’s title). I’ve done this before in previous years, and have already named a few songs to the list this year that include clean vocals. There are some beautiful voices in this post, and a lot of highly addictive music as well (of course). Continue reading »

Nov 172017


(This is Andy Synn’s review of the performance by Norway’s Ulver at the Islington Assembly Hall in London on November 15, 2017.)

Despite the fact that Ulver are definitely not a Metal band by any measure (in fact they’ve not been a Metal band for so long that even stating that they’re “not a Metal band” seems utterly redundant at this point), I’m always happy to cover them here at NCS, whether on record, or in the live setting.

When people ask me “why” I keep covering them, particularly in the light of their most recent, shamelessly electro-pop turn, I always answer them in two ways:

Firstly, it’s entirely possible to make “Pop” friendly music which has both depth and substance. Yes, the majority of today’s big sellers may, in general, be the most vapid, soulless examples of “popular” music, but there’s still a rich legacy of acts and artists who have made a very successful career out of twisting and subverting the expectations of their audience in a variety of surprisingly clever ways.

Secondly… well, it’s Ulver, isn’t it? And if any band has earned my trust over the years, it’s them.

Which is why I recently found myself in Islington Assembly Hall watching the band perform material from their latest album, The Assassination of Julius Caesar. Continue reading »

Nov 112017


You can go long or you can go short. You can pound your musical erogenous zones or you can shrivel up and go dry from something far outside the rim of your bullseye. You can fragment your mind or feel it coalescing in configurations that become receivers of new visions. Every day there are new opportunities.

I’m speaking of metal, of course. I got doses of all those experiences this week, but bit off almost more than I could chew with this week’s flood of premieres, and got squeezed by my fucking day job on top of that, so I failed to compile a round-up until now, and hence it’s a big one.

Catching up is an impossibility, of course, and this time it happens that my choices (all the way up to the last one) are mainly indulgences in a particular mood rather than my usual effort to throw darts all over the metal dartboard. The one thing I haven’t done is incorporate black metal, because I have tomorrow’s SHADES OF BLACK column for that.


We’ve been writing about this Greek band for years, beginning with their first single in 2013 and including their second one in 2015, their debut EP released the same year (and reviewed by DGR here), their amazing single and video from last year, “The Rain”, the first single (“Seeds of Deception”0 from their debut album, The Untamed Wilderness, which will be released by Lifeforce Records on November 24th, and the second one (“Shade of the Sun”). And now there’s a third, accompanied by a video. Continue reading »

Jun 272017


On the final night of the Roadburn Festival in Tilburg this year, Norway’s Ulver used the main stage as the setting for an album release show, performing all the songs from their latest album The Assassination of Julius Caesar, though not necessarily in the order of the album presentation. Segmented by instrumental interludes and enhanced by a spectacular light show, it was a performance that by all accounts was a great success, even if it might have caught some onlookers by surprise if they hadn’t yet heard anything from this new record (which we reviewed here). On the other hand, for those familiar with Ulver’s musical odyssey, the experience of being surprised is no longer a surprise — it is to be expected.

Many other bands performed on Day Four of Roadburn, but the formidable concert photographer Levan TK — whose photo essays from the first three days we’ve posted previously (collected here) — concentrated on Ulver, talking with Kristoffer Rygg before the show and shooting a multitude of photos during the performance. For this final installment in his pictorial memorial to Roadburn 2017, we present Levan’s selection from those photos. If only we could have been there, too…. Continue reading »

Apr 102017


(Andy Synn prepared this review of the new album by Ulver, which is released today.)

Have you ever wondered if Ulver’s career thus far might in fact be some elaborate joke that none of the rest of us understands? That the band have been engaged in one grand, meta-musical experiment for the last 15-20 years, seeing just how far they can take things, and how far they can push their audience outside of their usual comfort zone?

After all, frontman Kristoffer Rygg has been known to go by the pseudonym “Trickster G”, and the band even had their own label called “Jester Records” at one point, so it’s not like they haven’t given us more than a few hints along the way.

So what if it really is all just a game, a long-con, and we’re just not able to see it?

Would it really matter? Continue reading »

Jan 252016



(Andy Synn reviews the new album by Norway’s Ulver.)

Every Ulver album is unique. But the manner in which the band set about creating their latest opus is certainly more unique than usual.

The music and sounds found on ATGCLVLSSCAP are, in essence, the results of a series of lengthy live improvisations and extemporisations that saw the band taking hold of whatever idea or inspiration would come to them, whether new or old (some of these tracks building from seeds sown in earlier material), and spinning it off into strange and uncharted territory, creating and conjuring new songs and new sounds almost on the fly.

And yet, that isn’t the whole story, as the fruits of these recordings were then taken back to be analysed, deconstructed, re-tracked and (in some cases) further reimagined in the confines of the band’s home-studio, with the final results managing to capture and maintain the sense of spontaneity and invention from those early live sessions whilst bolstering them with 1.21 gigawatts of pure sonic super-science! Continue reading »