The Rickety Old Shack

Ulvesang — The Hunt

album cover

Two years after the release of their self-titled debut, Ulvesang return with their second album, The Hunt. I found their debut completely by accident, when I was combing through their record label's Bandcamp page, and have been a big fan of their sound ever since. An acoustic duo hailing from Nova Scotia, Canada, Ulvesang have a unique mix of folk styles that really resonates strikes a chord appeals to me, so I was very curious to hear this new album.

Opening with a brooding, atmospheric track featuring a low, hymnal chant, "Invocation" sets the tone for the album. There are a lot of similarities with the band's previous effort, as one would expect of an acoustic project. That being said, Ulvesang didn't just rehash the same material and slap a new cover on the record. Both records each have a sense of gloom and foreboding darkness to them, projecting a lot of emotion despite being almost entirely instrumental — a lot of wordless storytelling. "The Truth" surprised me when the vocals came in — as the band's only song to feature lyrics — but it's also something I'd like them to do more of in the future.

Musically, there are a lot of commonalities between the self-titled record and The Hunt, but also some new additions. Ethereal backing synths, recordings of campfires, and strong, gusting winds all help set the mood and give the album a very naturalistic feeling. What little percussion the songs feature sounds like it was produced by striking the body of a guitar, though the title track does feature the sparing use of an actual drum. All of these little tweaks and enhacements to Ulvesang's sound show a continuing progression as players and composers, and give the new material a more matured feel and greater sonic depth.

The Hunt is a heavily atmospheric experience, covering a range of tempos and moods. Excluding the intro and outro, the album is 8 densely packed tracks — running 41 minutes in total — and feels just the right length. A folk record with a metal spirit, The Hunt is a worthy successor to the group's exceptional debut album. Ulvesang manage to do quite a lot with a very stripped-down, minimalistic sound. I love sonically dense, production masterworks too, but this Canadian duo evoke a lot of feeling and atmosphere with small flourishes, like the slides and harmonics on "The Gloom" or "The Dance."

Not every band reinvents itself from one album to the next, and Ulvesang are no exception. The Hunt doesn't break any new ground, but does feature a lot of naunced improvements to their sound. The Hunt is a worthy follow-up to an impressive debut offering; it's very clear that Ulvesang have found a winning formula, and I look forward to seeing the next iterations of it.

Summary

The Hunt is almost exactly what I expected as a follow-up Ulvesang's debut album. More than just an incremental update, but still residing in very familiar territory. Everything that makes Ulvesang compelling is present on this album: a lot of finger-picked melodies that slowly work to a climax of explosive chords, dosed out for maximum emotional effect. The atmospheric elements are so well executed; this is a very powerful collection of guitar-based folk music. As a metalhead, this is exactly the sort of palate cleanser I seek out on a regular basis.

Album Information

Release date: March 16th, 2018
Record label: Nordvis Produktion

Alex Boyd — guitar
Ana Dujakovic — guitar, synth

Track Listing

  1. Invocation
  2. The Trial
  3. The Dance
  4. The End
  5. The Hunt
  6. The Break
  7. The Run
  8. The Gloom
  9. The Truth
  10. Močvara/мочвара

—by Derek

Published: March 21st, 2018.