Have you heard the myth about prisoners stubbing out cigarettes into a bucket of water in order to create enough poison to use on their fellow inmates? Evidently, someone slipped a copy of the mastertapes to Ulver's latest sonic delivery into that foul brew as well.
Opening with the slow-burning near opera of "Dressed in Black," the stage is thoroughly set for one of the most mind warping listens you're likely to encounter this year. Which is saying something, considering this is an Ulver album being discussed. Never ones to allow genres or definitions to affect their sound, mainman/audio-saboteur/messiah complex sufferer Kristopher Rygg has once again allowed his apocalyptic vision to run free into any and all realms available, be it veering from monastery chants, trip-hop, and ambience, to even dropping in on rave clubs and rock/metal circles as each song demands. Witness the heavily orchestrated and expertly layered "Christmas," and tell me this band isn't perfect for the movie soundtrack work they've been sneaking in between official Ulver releases.
This album truly takes on a life of its own during the unveiling of Blood Inside's centerpiece, the simply stunning "It Is Not Sound." A song better experienced than explained, let's just say I know what I want played at my funeral when that day comes. From there, the juddering near-schizophrenia of "The Truth" feels like almost too much of a shock, but after repeated plays makes perfect sense with regards to the album's overall course, particularly when the big-band jazz of "In the Red" leads into the grandiose and sweeping finale of "Your Call" and "Operator" respectively.
Teaming with King Crimson producer extraordinaire Ronan Chris Murphy has further allowed the record to leap out of the stereo and assault you from all fronts; every note is primed and ready to experience to its fullest.
So, excessive ranting aside, this is a beautifully crafted album of both substance and style. It's been noted in some quarters that Kris Rygg could almost be the Norwegian equivalent to Mike Patton, but Patton hasn't cared enough about creating listener quality tunes within the confines of experimentation for quite some time now. Certainly, Blood Inside is still not for everyone, but those who choose to indulge in this will find themselves rewarded on every level. Remind me to thank those prisoners for this chemically-driven treat, though I can't think what I did to anger them in the first place.
9.5 / 10
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