Genre Genesis // Ulver – “Russian Doll”

Genre Genesis is our monthly column dedicated to the hardworking and endlessly patient partners of Heavy Blog editors and writers, who are, shall we say, not nearly as invested in

3 years ago

Genre Genesis is our monthly column dedicated to the hardworking and endlessly patient partners of Heavy Blog editors and writers, who are, shall we say, not nearly as invested in heavier music as we tend to be. We offer them a track from an artist we’re currently enjoying and ask them for both their reactions and to take their best guess at what “genre” of heavy music it falls into. It’s all in good fun and a necessary reminder to not take ourselves too seriously.

You didn’t think we were leaving this gold mine of a column behind in Heavy Blog 3.0, did you? Of course not! We took a little time off just to get the house in order, but now we’re back up and running! And to celebrate, I decided to give the GG crew a little bit of a reprieve and throw something their way that I figured would have a pretty high likelihood of them actually *gasp* enjoying.

Despite their long and well-documented history as a pioneering black metal band, these days Ulver is far from anything having to do with the genre or really heaviness as a whole. But we still love them anyway, especially when they can do the whole 80s darkwave thing so well. So here is the crew’s thoughts on single “Russian Doll,” including an entry from our newest GG member, Darcee!


You know I’m here for 80’s throwback PLUS dance music video.  Both the song itself and the video felt like they belonged in a dark montage in Stranger Things, in a fantastic way.  The music isn’t overly complex and this song is definitely lyrics-driven.  I like it! I feel like there’s a trap given how we’ve been given more challenging stuff on this column in the past, but I can’t help but bop along.  I just went and added this to my iTunes, I’m confused but pleased!

I especially like the music video.  I love that they showcased a talented woman’s skills and the hauntingly empty (Norweigan?) streets were eerie and a little melancholy in a way that really worked in the track’s favor.  I’m looking forward to listening to the rest of the album!

Genre: Retro Electronic Pop


When this song first started playing, I was definitely caught off guard. This isn’t metal. This song is good. This song is CATCHY. With a name like Ulver, I expected the stereotypical loud yells and unrelenting guitar (I mean, come on, Ulver is too close to “ulcer” to expect something not gross or off-putting). But I was pleasantly surprised by this 80s-sounding blast-from-the-past, complete with a car-revving intro. Tell me this wouldn’t fit seamlessly into any angsty teenage 80s movie *insert dance sequence/heartbreak montage/pensive staring out car windows*.

I did have to wonder, why would Nick choose this song? If my memory serves me, we have only really ever been given distinctly metal songs to review (although some are obviously more hardcore than others). I dug into Ulver’s past releases and lo and behold, there was my answer. There’s the metal I’m looking for! But it seems like Ulver does not shy away from experimentation. They may have started out as a metal band, but could they really be considered that now? I don’t know about the metal community, but I sure am glad they decided to stray from their roots.

Genre: ’80s Heartbreak Montage Non-Metal


I have a favourite drag queen and her name is Katya Zamolodchikova. She has just released a new glitter with her BFF drag queen Trixie Mattel called Russian Doll – it’s red metallic stars in case you were in the market for some new body glitter. Now, I am not sure I am going to like the song as much as I love these drag queens, but I can already feel my heart softening before its even started, solely for this coincidental and unrelated reason.

Again, we have a video clip, which I love. I am confused why this chick’s headphones keep falling out, and we are pretending like its not happening, but okay.

I had to pause to see where into the song I was up to because I feel like I might have missed the chorus? I feel like although I really like the beat, sounds and overall 80/90s vibe, I feel like it hasn’t changed much in a classic song structure of verse, bridge, chorus.

The addition of the violin is fantastic and really is a nice different to the more electronic sounds throughout the song. I am also getting SEGA or classic video games vibes, which again is awesome. Also, understanding the words that is being sung is a lovely change of pace.

Overall, I did enjoy the song. I was hoping for a more distinct peak of the song, be in from the instruments or vocals, as I felt it did not have much range, but it was still a nice listen! I am also confused if this is actually metal or what the genre is, similar to how sometimes in the right lighting you can really question if a drag queen is in fact a male dressed as a female, but I’m 100% okay with both. Other songs I have listened to are much more obviously scary and metal, so I can confirm I will explore whatever this genre is in the future, as it was a refreshing change to the usual reviews!

Genre – Electronic/Synth Pop


When I read the song assignment two things popped into my head. First, Russian Doll is an amazing Netflix Show. Yay! I’m excited. Then as I pressed play on You Tube, for a split second I thought that Natasha Lyonne was actually in the video (she’s not). Second thing, I’ve heard of Ulver before but I can’t remember anything distinct about their sound. Boy was I pleasantly surprised by the up-beat pop tune! I thought this was a heavy blog?

While our not-Natasha-Lyonne-heroine rocks Ulver’s metal band tee, this song is definitely not metal. More like synth-pop. I’m pretty confident about that. Afterall, Trent’s song of the summer, whether he’s admitted it online or not, was undeniably The Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights. Last year was a pretty serious Gunship phase too.

Okay, I guess I should actually talk about the song? The singer’s voice is smooth and confident. It’s an 80s sound and vibe but at the same time, it’s not 80s at all. There’s something crisp and shiny about their sound that Trent says is “production value”. To me, it’s just distinctly “newer” than the Bowie and Depeche Mode playing on the radio when I was growing up. The line, “she was born in 1989” is repeated over and over and I can’t help but feel nostalgic. The sound is new, but familiar at the same time. It makes me want to forget my stresses and dance freely on rooftops. Great pick! Great tune.

Genre: New-Nostalgic Synth-Pop

Nick Cusworth

Published 3 years ago