Ulver - The Assassination Of Julius Caesar album review

Putting the ‘pop’ back into ‘attempted assassination of a pope’

TODO alt text

If you’ve been following their 25-year career, you’ll know that Ulver are suckers for reinvention. Since shedding the black metal tag of their early years, the Oslo-based quartet have dabbled in lush experiments with complex electronica, dark ambient and almost everything in between.

Now, with their 13th full-length, Ulver give us their “pop album”. From opener Nemoralia, the album’s debt to the sleek and sleazy sheen of 80s electro pop is clear. Rolling Stone’s pulsating electronics are underpinned by frayed guitars and moody beats which dissolve into screeching psychedelia, complete with a sax solo from Hawkwind’s ex Nik Turner. But this isn’t simple copycatting – the album finds terrain that is often darker, harder and more complex than many of its predecessors. The album’s concept is pleasingly fanciful (the death of Princess Diana, the attempted assassination of a pope, The Church Of Satanism and their links through time and space), and the sudden change of pace in some songs begins to jar. But in the last three tracks, sonic experimentation comes to life as Coming Home’s angular experiments in glitchy electronica and gloomy, motorik beats bring the album to an unsettling close.