Ulver – Bergtatt [Et Eeventyr i 5 Capitler]

Warning: Trolls
Warning: Trolls

Bergtatt, the title of Ulver’s 1995 debut, doesn’t seem to have an exact translation to English. In the album’s liner notes it’s translated as both “Spellbound” and “Mountain-taken” which is the literal translation*. It’s a Norwegian term for people (usually maidens I imagine) that have been lured into the hills by particularly alluring trolls and other assorted faerie folk, never to return! The music is appropriately seductive, alluring and magical: the album is laden with dreamy acoustic guitars, flutes and soothing Gregorian chant singing. There’s excellent, raw black metal throughout as well but, even then, the orchestrated layers of guitar don’t shatter the dreamy allure: Ulver aiming for a panoramic, classical vibe rather than the usual evil aggression. It’s a debut so fully realised that the band immediately moved on from the style but Bergtatt has proven to be inescapably influential. In 1995 this was a unique album but so many bands have followed in its dreamy, progressive footsteps since that, if it was released today, it would be more relevant than ever. It’s ageless rock n troll.

*In English the full album title is Mountain-taken: A Fairy Tale in 5 Chapters

[Ulver – Capitel I: I Troldskog Faren Vild or Chapter I : Lost in a Forest of Trolls]

A Troll: Alluring and Seductive
A Troll: Alluring and Seductive
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23 thoughts on “Ulver – Bergtatt [Et Eeventyr i 5 Capitler]”

  1. Thanks for this introduction. I really like that embedded “chapter.” Is it representative of the whole album? I’m intrigued but a bit of a scaredy-cat based on your mention of “raw black metal throughout.” I can be a big baby when it comes to gruff black-metal vocals. Am I safe?

    Also, thanks for the Easter egg! Had never heard of Trollhunter but have been enticed into giving it a viewing in coming days. Looks freaking awesome! I’m on a bit of a Norway kick of late; wearing my Kvelertak shirt as I type and been watching a Norwegian TV series (thoughtful political thriller) called “Occupied.” It is a great show if you haven’t seen it. Really makes me pine for an opportunity to visit Scandinavia.

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      1. Yeah man, I saw that same tour! Mine was in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with my son. I’d also seen them opening for High on Fire in Washington D.C. at a smaller place the year before. Great, bouncy Norwegian party metal!

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    1. This track is very representative. There’s gruff BM vocals on other tracks but I didn’t think you’ll mind them here. On their second album they went full-on folk. No gruff vocals at all! But no metal either. It’s a great album too (is called Kveldsangger)

      I’d love a Scandinavian visit too. Never been. Was on a Scandi-Crime kick for a while but haven’t heard of Occupied so I’ll need to check that out. Let me know what you make of Troll Hunter. Glad you spotted the link! There’s some bits of it that don’t quite work but it’s great fun… Very playful!

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      1. Went to Spotify and listened to the rest of Bergtatt and you are right, the black metal vocals didn’t put my over-sensitive ears off too much. That said, I went right into Kveldsangger afterwards and dude, it is some beautiful stuff. It transported to vast, snow-capped mountainscapes — mountain-taken indeed; metal in spirit if not in letter. Seems you’ve inadvertently sold my over-sensitive sensibilities on Ulver’s sophomore offering!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That’s awesome! The sophomore is a great album too! Don’t forget about Bergtatt though… If you’re still feeling over-sensitive you should maybe stay away from their third album though!

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  2. That track you posted is really something. It’s so pretty and uplifting, but then that music underneath has some menace and heaviness to it… Best of both worlds! I can see why this was so influential. Classy and classic!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This lot sound right good. I’m not surprised you postponed breakfast! Worthy of dropping your porridge for!

    I like the idea of those big Trolls luring maidens to the hills … kinda like the big dude in Fraggle Rock. “I caught a fraggle!” (Only it would be a maiden instead of a fraggle). Then the maidens escape and finish up their adventures!

    Liked by 1 person

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