Themes from William Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

Ulver-Themes from William Blake's The Marriage of Heaven and Hell
  • Album Info
  • 1998
  • Jester Records

1. The Argument Plate 2
2. Plate 3
3. Plate 3, Following
4. The Voice of the Devil Plate 4
5. Plates 5-6 02:31 Show lyrics
6. A Memorable Fancy Plates 6-7
7. Proverbs of Hell Plates 7-10
8. Plate 11
9. Intro
10. A Memorable Fancy Plates 12-13
11. Plate 14
12. A Memorable Fancy Plate 15
13. Plates 16-17
14. A Memorable Fancy Plates
15. Intro
16. Plates 21-22
17. A Memorable Fancy Plates 22-24
18. Intro
19. A Song of Liberty Plates 25-27

Themes from William Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell is the fourth studio album by Norwegian band Ulver. Produced with Kristoffer Rygg, together with Knut Magne Valle and Tore Ylwizaker, it was issued on December 17, 1998 via Jester Records. It is a musical adaptation of William Blake’s poem The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. The album blends electronics, industrial music elements, progressive metal, avant-garde rock and ambient passages, following Blake’s plates as track indexes. Stine Grytøyr, Ihsahn, Samoth and Fenriz all feature as guest vocalists.

The album received widespread acclaim from critics within the rock, metal and alternative music press, being awarded Album of the Month in several high-profile magazines such as TerrorizerMetal Hammer, and Rock Hard and ranked very highly in their end of year’s best polls. However, the band’s new electronic sound alienated many fans of their first three albums, causing a backlash from the black metal scene.

In late 1997, Kristoffer Rygg invited keyboardist, sound conceptualist, and composer Tore Ylwizaker into the collective, and together they devised a plan for Heaven and Hell. Musically, the album transcended black metal’s aesthetics to create a genre-defying work and incorporated everything from ambient and classical sounds to industrial, progressive metal, and art rock.

The album and the band in general received considerable backlash from the black metal community for abruptly changing musical styles, though the band expressly claimed to not be part of the “so-called black metal scene” in the liner notes of the booklet. While black metal purists were taken aback by the experimentation of the album, it was responsible for introducing Ulver to a far wider audience. The shift in musical direction also caused discontent between Rygg and German label Century Media, resulting in the band being dropped from the roster and Rygg subsequently forming his own label, Jester Records.

The avant-garde electronic and progressive metal approach and clean vocal style of the album are similar to those employed by Rygg on the Arcturus album La Masquerade Infernale, released a year earlier.