Review by Shadowdoom9 (Andi) for Ulver - Nattens madrigal: Aatte hymne til ulven i manden (1997)
An experimental electronic band named Ulver started off as folk-black metal in their debut Bergtatt. Then they took out all of their metal in their folk album Kveldssanger. And where did they put all their leftover black metal? In this album, Nattens madrigal! They also spent all their recording money on drugs and a Corvette just so they could record the album in a forest using a tape recorder. Of course, that's just a rumor, but with this harsh raw production, you might think that was real...
Try to find any acoustic folk in this album. Spoiler: There's almost none. This is raw punishing black metal with vicious guitar and shrieks. Though within the chaos is some great melody, and the lyrics are centered around wolves in the dark night, with each track being deemed a "Wolf Hymne".
The opening track "Fear" explodes into the harsh raw extremeness throughout the first minute. Then the second minute is a nice beautiful acoustic section. You might think they would have more to bring back the Bergtatt sound, but that's not the case here. The chaos returns at the start of the 3rd minute and is like that for the rest of the album, minus some brief ambient intermissions between tracks. The soloing gets totally ripped in "The Devil". With speedy tremolo in "Hatred", another furious composition is made!
"Man" has emotional atmosphere in the raw black metal sound, leading up to a fierce ending. Another notable highlight for me is "The Moon" which has given me an effect where I'm happy about this even though the sound that already summarizes this album is far from what I'm used to.
I can say the same about "Passion" which is my personal favorite of the album, in which the searing madness is surrounded by the melodic beginning and end. The ending riff of "Destiny" works brilliantly with this lo-fi production and aggressive drumming. "The Night" has the last of this incredible guitar, and I'm both sad and glad that the band would discard their extreme sound in subsequent albums.
Nattens Madrigal is one of the fiercest albums I've heard in black metal while having some melody in those raw sinister tremolos. Garm was also in Arcturus and Borknagar at the time, but this Ulver album shows him unleashing the most of his snarling rage. Probably one of the best examples of the heavier side of black metal for me!
Favorites: "Fear", "The Moon", "Passion", "The Night"