Ulver – Vargnatt [Demo]

Ulver - Vargnatt

Although Nattens Madrigal – Aate Hymne til Ulven i Manden has been immortalized in black metal history with the myth of being recorded in a forest due to its extremely low fidelity production, it’s actually Vargnatt that holds such a distinction. Recorded in Norway’s Trollforest in 1993 when all of the band members were still teenagers,1 this early demo showcases the group’s inherent experimental qualities through jazzy drum breaks, Attila Csihar-esque vocals, buzzsaw guitars, and operatic clean singing. “Trollskogen” is an acoustic folk interlude, which would become a main part of Ulver’s repertoire on debut full-length Bergtatt – Et eeventyr i 5 capitler and neofolk follow-up Kveldssanger.

This album is raw – extremely so, to the point where the original release is not even worth recommending except to the most curious of die-hard fans. Vargnatt is the work of young teenagers, and it shows in the disorganized song structure and meandering black metal chords. As with Bergtatt, Kveldssanger, and Nattens Madrigal, the lyrics are entirely in an archaic form of Dano-Norwegian with heavily influence from Scandinavian folktales and imagery. The musicianship is good – the countertenor vocals in “Nattens Madrigal” foreshadow the themes of Bergatt – but the band is unfocused and with little direction, having so many ideas but without the musical foundation with which to back them up. It’s interesting for collectors and completionists, but extraordinarily unrefined – especially in comparison to Bergtatt and Nattens Madrigal.

For those interested in Vargnatt, get a hold of the remasters by Kyrck Productions & Armour and Century Media. The original release is nearly Ildjarn-level of unlistenability.

1. Her Begynner Mine Arr…2 – (3:19) – ★☆☆☆☆
2. Tragediens Trone3 – (4:11) – ★☆☆☆☆
3. Trollskogen4 – (4:34) – ★★★☆☆
4. Ulverytternes Kamp5 – (5:39) – ★★☆☆☆
5. Nattens Madrigal6 – (6:37) – ★★★☆☆
6. Vargnatt7 – (4:21) – ★★☆☆☆

Overall: ★½☆☆☆

1Vocalist and main creative leader Kristoffer Rygg had just turned seventeen years old upon the recording of Vargnatt
2Dano-Norwegian translation: “Here Begin My Scars”
3Dano-Norwegian translation: “Throne of Tragedy”
4Dano-Norwegian translation: “Troll Forest”
5Dano-Norwegian translation: “Wolf Riders’ [in] Combat”
6Dano-Norwegian translation: “Madrigal of the Night”
7Dano-Norwegian translation: “Night of the Wolf”

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