I could spend half of this review telling you about how wild and crazy ULVER’s history has been, but that’s been done more than a million times. Let’s just say this – this is a band that has done a lot of stuff. Lots of people like them, lots of people hate them and lots of people do both.
“Blood Inside” is a puzzling release. I don’t mean to say that it’s inaccessible, but rather that it’s one of those records that you’re going to listen to while sitting there on your bed, flipping through the liner notes and soaking it in, trying to put all of the pieces together and make sense of what exactly this is supposed to be. The minimalist yet elegant artwork compliment the abstract lyrics and there are plenty of themes that pop up over and over in those lyrics. Amazingly, ULVER is able to capture and embody these abstract themes in their compositions, giving each piece its own distinct feeling. Not just distinct from each other, but distinct from anything else. This music sounds like a hospital. It sounds like a telephone. It sounds like religion and it sounds like blood.
The cautious listener might be scared away, but when it comes to the music, “Blood Inside” is an immediately rewarding album. The songs pulse, ebb, flow and linger, but they also pound and pummel their way out of the speakers. “Operator” is the soundtrack of panic and no, it’s not Metal, but it sure is heavy. “Blinded By Blood” paints a macabre portrait of childhood and “For The Love Of God” drips with an aura of blasphemous bliss. The songs, while retaining their own character, come together to paint a cohesive picture, a gestalt of electronics, ambience, Jazz, Classic Rock. Garm’s wonderful vocals are the icing on the over-used metaphor cake, flowing in and out just like the other instruments, but adding that extra punch where most appropriate.
ULVER isn’t for everyone and “Nattens Madrigal” this is not. Then again, ULVER wouldn’t be ULVER if they repeated themselves and for anyone who finds that truth about the band appealing, your ears – and brain – will thank you for giving them “Blood Inside.” (Online January 23, 2006)