Transcendent; ethereal; holy; sanctified; eternal; timeless: these are only several words that can barely begin to describe one of the career-defining albums of Norway’s Ulver. Beginning as a black metal band in the early 1990s, the passage of time has begotten Ulver’s evolution into something that transcends definition, which is very much the case with their seventh studio album, Shadows of the Sun.
The forty minutes that makes up this work is a voyage into the limbo between light and darkness, of dream and reality, and transcends all notions of consciousness. The opening track of Eos submerses the listener into this dark purgatory of the twilight—perfectly apt for a soundtrack for an eternal sunset. Somber atmosphere with the aura of church organs pervades this track, as well as through the entire album, while Kristoffer Rygg’s soft vocals sooth the ears. Violins embellish this otherworldly experience. Eos sets the tone of the album with free-flowing and seemingly structure-less exploration.
The rest of the album continues to wander through the twilight established in Eos. All the Love introduces some subtle drums and elegant piano. Those with short attention spans may find their minds wandering, but for those that enjoy such ethereal music, you will not be disappointed. Vigil continues with the somber atmosphere that gives way to chamber choir and a wall of noise. The title track shares this meandering nature, while Let the Children Go has more of a ritualistic and tribal flair with percussion, effects that sound like rattlesnake rattling, and even trumpets. Ulver even covers Black Sabbath’s Solitude. The album closes with the ominous What Happened? Wavering between oblivion and existence, violins bring the listener out of the darkness to the light to emerge from beneath the shadows of the sun.
These words fail to capture the gravity that is attained by this exquisite album. Shadows of the Sun is a mandatory piece of one’s collection for fans of atmospheric music. This is an album ideal for solitude with only one’s thoughts as sole companion. In the broad output of Ulver’s discography, Shadows of the Sun is perhaps the most significant and most crucial to their post-black metal era. Few albums will resonate with such an atmosphere and aura as this.
Genre: Experimental, Avant Garde
Label: Jester Recoreds
Release: October 1, 2007
2. All The Love
3. Like Music
5. Shadows Of The Sun
6. Let The Children Go
7. Solitude (Black Sabbath cover)
9. What Happened?