For many, ULVER’s long-time career in metal ended along with the end of ‘The Black Metal’ era. Within each record, the band was shaping music in a unique way that only ULVER could possible achieve so far. When an artist removes the blinkers that music industry created all the past years, the outcome is marvelous; stories, faces, smells, all those can easily be created by an inspired record. ULVER, with the release of ‘The Assassination of Julius Caesar’, moved their career forward, leaping into the deep abyss of artistic freedom.
Starting with basic facts; ‘The Assassination of Julius Caesar’ is not a metal record. Neither is a pop record. It is a story that, the band and especially Kristopher Rygg needed to tell. It is a travel through time and space, to Rome, to modern age, to California, to Nero and Caesar. The band tried to compose the most livid lyrics they have ever composed so far and they have managed to do it. But lyrics could achieve nothing without livid music, without the theatricality that sound is offering to art.
If PINK FLOYD ever had any chance to get in touch with electronic music, they would be the ULVER of ‘The Assassination of Julius Caesar’. There band uses synthesizers and at some points, they manage to create a retro, electronic sound. The term synthwave seems to describe songs like ‘So Falls The World’ and ‘Transverberation’ in a rightful way. There is a total coordination between ambient and experimental sound with synthwave and electronic, while Ulver chooses to mix up those genres in a way that would not tamper with the band’s past.
“If PINK FLOYD ever had any chance to get in touch with electronic music, they would be the ULVER of ‘The Assassination of Julius Caesar’”
Under rhythmic drumming and upon synths, expressive vocal lines magnify the significance of the historical (or mythological) background that shines through the music. In ‘Rolling Stone’, the chorus (“Poor Little Sister…”) is a fair example of the way that the band has achieved to arouse the listener’s senses. You can’t pass the message if the messenger is not loud and by loudness I highlight the powerfulness of vocals, not the vocals themselves.
Always experimenting with their style, even within a record, in ‘Southern Gothic’ the band sounds influenced by the style that, honestly, only Depeche Mode have so far created sufficient. Moreover, no one can rule out that ULVER, and the specific record, is the border between Pink Floyd and modernism, the border that creates a perfect continuation between decades and decades of experimentation in music.
With or without synthesizers, with or without electronic elements inside a song, ‘The Assassination of Julius Caesar’ is a record that needs attention. It needs the listener to work through its schematics and find out its inner miracle. Just like literature, the record unfolds progressively, demanding mental devotion.