Label: Indie Recordings
Release Date: March 15, 2011
Norwegian black metal horde, Vreid have seemingly come full circle since their inception in 2004. Vried was formed in the wake of disbanding Windir, after singer Terje “Valfar” Bakken died from hypothermia in January 2004.
These days guitarist Sture handles the vocals duties for this phoenix which rose from the ashes of Windir. With the 2010 return of Windir, guitarist Strom, the old line-up, minus Valfar has been reunited. Perhaps this explains why Vreid have released arguably their best album to date with V.
Joining Strom and Sture on their continued journey are bassist Hváll and drummer Steingrim. Together the foursome have continued on their fifth album, the classic sound of early Norwegian black metal, that so few still do.
Vreid have become masters at their craft, consistent in the strength of their musical output, and V is no different. Following the sonic path of their 2009 release, Milorg, the band doesn’t venture too far from their signature style. However, when your sound is persistently and dependably excellent, there isn’t much need to reinvent the wheel.
V does offer more use of clean vocals and there are more solos on this effort, but in all this album is simply an extension of the band’s growing catalog of well produced, powerful black and roll. While V offers perhaps less in overt aggressiveness than Milorg, it makes up for it with a more expansive overall sound. Strom’s return has really amped up the harmonies and progressive elements to the band’s sound.
From the album opener “Arche” you can immediately hear the impact Strom’s return has made. The guitars sound epic, and the riffs are better than ever. Sture’s vocals while raspy and harsh are still decipherable, a trick too few extreme metal bands manage these days.
“Wolverine Bastards” (great song title) starts off with an almost regal guitar harmony before the hammer comes down and crushes your skull. Or would that be a mace? The soloing on this track is brilliant.
Band founder, Hváll, brings his bass of reckoning to the forefront on “The Sound Of The River”.
“Fire On The Mountain” leads in with an ominous atmosphere before the bass launches us right into the gates of hell. One of the album’s most impressive tracks.
The track “Slave” kicks off with a military style groove, then twists into a sound almost like a possessed Pink Floyd track. It bounces back and forth between this and caustic vocals, hammering drumwork, and some of the best riffing on the album.
“Welcome To The Asylum” is a black metal blast-beat fest, while the album closer “Then We Die” is a mix of haunting and melodic mastery at once disturbing and entreating.
For those that considered Milorg to be the band’s signature work, V proves that Vreid have far more to say. On V the band delivers to the listener a work of black metal majesty, replete with traditional Norwegian black and roll elements and further enhanced with progressive and melodic components that complete one of the year’s best black metal albums.
Vried remain under-appreciated by the mass black metal community, but perhaps this record will stun them awake to what has been building for some time.
A must own for Norwegian black metal fans and a worthy listen for all metal fans in general. \m/
Highlights: Arche, Wolverine Bastards, Fire On The Mountain, Slave, The Sound Of The River