When it comes to the art of music, Ulver are a law unto themselves. Having been around for almost 25 years, the Norwegian progressive post-black metal experimentalist outfit now possess a status which makes every release they put out feel like a milestone. Having shifted through a plethora of sounds, from black and folk metal to ambient avant-garde and electronica, the last few years have seen them dabble in pet projects such as the 2012 reinterpretations/covers album ‘Childhood’s End’, 2016’s sprawlingly improvised ‘ATGCLVLSSCAP’ and the Riverhead film soundtrack. ‘The Assassination of Julius Caesar’ is their first proper studio album since 2011’s ‘War of The Roses’.
Never ones to shy away from experimentation, this record was recorded and produced entirely by the band themselves. This follows on from the bold statement that Ulver made with their last album and feels like a natural successor to ‘War of the Roses’. However, they’ve expanded upon their pre-existing musical palette into completely unchartered territory. There’s a decidedly synth pop feel to this release which will definitely come as a shock to listeners upon first spin. That’s not to say that this is a bad move on Ulver’s part, but it’s definitely an audacious shift in artistic direction.
Tracks such as ‘Rolling Stone’ are wonderfully catchy and, while the rest of the album requires a few plays to really get to grips with, it’s definitely a strong release. It’s safe to say that Ulver are more certainly back, just not as we’ve ever known them.
(7/10 Angela Davey)