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Vreid - "V" (CD)

No cover art found for Vreid - "V" CD

"V" track listing:

1. Arche
2. The Blood Eagle
3. Wolverine Bastards
4. The Sound of the River
5. Fire on the Mountain
6. The Others & the Look
7. Slave
8. Welcome to the Asylum
9. Then We Die

Reviewed by on April 21, 2011

"Although “V” contains classical arraignments, the hollow tones and violent eruptions of black metal and even a few progressive segments gives the album a horned-hand salute to classic metal’s guitar-based principle. "

When Windir vocalist "Valfar" Bakken succumbed to hypothermia in 2004, his band mates formed Vreid. Vreid kept much of the blackened melody and atmosphere of Windir, but added heavy rock, thrash and classic metal elements. One could say they took off their chainmail and put on patch-embossed jean jackets. The Norwegian black-and-roll outfit’s fifth full-length, “V,” shows the band becoming even more diverse and further distancing themselves from Windir.

Although “V” contains classical arrangements, the hollow tones and violent eruptions of black metal and even a few progressive segments gives the album a horned-hand salute to classic metal’s guitar-based principle. Vreid cleaned up the production values of their earlier material in favor of a more polished finish. In a sense, the group modernized their sound, thus allowing the guitars and other instruments to ring more clearly through the mix, instead of sucking their music into a vortex of low-fidelity, necro recordings.

“V” thrives on guitars, but most songs offer more than voracious speed and bar-chord barbarity. Numerous tempo and mood changes make each song dynamic and draws an outline around each memorably rhythm. Guitar and even bass solos provide slow and fast bridges to the next part. Even when the group activates its turbos, their guitars still exude melody. While Vreid’s ability to rock out finds Motorhead comparisons, the melodic nature of the guitars on “V” seem more aligned with Iron Maiden. Check out the solos at the end of “The Sound of the River.”

The group sometimes takes a prog rock approach during slower moments. Their use of a Hammond Organ (think Enslaved) on “Blood Eagle” and “The Others And The Look” gives these parts a ‘70s vibe, but take on graver tones during the moribund “Then We Die.” These parts also elicit a clean-toned voice of Sture, which falls somewhere between “Aspera Hiems Symfonia” Arcturus and King Crimson. The length alone of “The Others And The Look,” ten-and-a-half minutes, defines epic, not to mention its numerous progressions. Here, the group offers more clean vocals, Hammond organ, riffing straight from German power metal tabs and bursts of black metal speed without losing melody.

Some tracks aren’t as diverse in scope as “The Others And The Look.” These tracks are straight on metal attacks. Seemingly influenced by the book “The Lord of the Flies,” “Fire in the Mountain” is a savage, black metal beast. “Welcome to the Asylum” goes straight for the throat with lunatic speed. This short track (3:22) moves through many catchy stoppages for bass solos and guitar solos, while sustaining melody but more in the traditional metal sense of bass, drums and guitar.

Vreid took a different lyrical approach from the WWII Norwegian resistance movement of the past two albums, and focused on the liberty man finds in his primal state. Musically, “V” reveals greater maturity and professionalism—in song arrangements and production, and diversity of style, but loses some of the magic held in their folk-ish arrangements. While “V” is good listen and well-worth your money, “I Krig” is still Vreid at its best.

Highs: "V" is an eclectic mix of styles chalked full of riffs, atmosphere and melody.

Lows: Vreid further distanced their selves from the folk black metal of Windir.

Bottom line: A decent black metal effort of rocking guitars and ominous atmosphere.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)