Ulvik – Cascades (Review)

Ulvik - CascadesUlvik are a Canadian black metal band and this is their second album.

Cascades contains 32 minutes of atmospheric black metal. What it might lack in quantity it makes up for in quality. Ulvik have produced an enjoyable, satisfying slice of darkness here. Theirs is a largely aggressive strain of atmoblack, but one that’s not without nuance or dynamic differentiation.

Violins, bouzoukis, post-black elements, and introspective lightness are used to provide additional expansive texture during breaks from the harshness of the core blackened assault. As such, the band’s primary aggressive tendencies are punctuated with relaxed breathing spaces that allow the listener moments of succour before they delve into the tempest once again.

There are some ferocious guitars on this album, with Nokhur in particular feeling especially malevolent because of these brutally twisting rhythms. The band’s melodic skills are not to be taken lightly either; these are mostly understated, whereas on occasion they seem to almost spear through the distorted fury with precision emotive targeting. Post-black metal elements can be heard within these melodies, as well as in some of the less abrasive aspects of the band’s sound. The Cascadian style seems to be an influence too, most noticeably on Allmachtiger.

Keyboards tie the distorted and non-distorted sides of the music together well, adding a further layer to an already very atmospheric work.

There are two vocalists, (as far as I can tell); one who screams and one who roars. Both styles sound good and are well-performed, and I like the layering of both when they’re used on top of each other. The vocals are low in the mix, just as I prefer them for this sort of thing, and are wielded as additional weapons in the arsenal of the music.

If you like your atmospheric post-black metal to be scathingly brutal as well as atmosphere-heavy, then I heartily recommend Cascades.

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