Wild North West

“Well, I don’t know how many years on this Earth I got left. I’m gonna get real weird with it.”

-Frank Reynolds… and probably Vreid.

On full length number 9, Vreid are back to do two things; prove sweaters are metal and get weird. After all, being cold isn’t very metal. It’s difficult to be dark and brutal when you’re shivering. I will begin by saying there is an accompanying DVD for this and I do not have it yet (get off your ass, Season of Mist), so I will be reviewing audio only, which makes sense, as I’m sure I will watch the movie, go “that’s nice,” then continue to listen to the album without it as a companion piece.

Since I mentioned the DVD, I might as well also mention the concept, as it’s based on Kim and Kanye’s daughter, North West and those times she goes off the rails… Hence, Wild North West. You get it.

If you don’t and you want something serious, the real concept is based on Vreid’s homeland, including true and imaginary events. It begins appropriately with the title track “Wild North West,” and it’s not your typical black n’roll to which you’ve been accustomed from these gents. Sure, it has those elements, but from the organ intro, to the clean vocals section, along with the blast beats, it’s pretty clear Vreid are going to do what they want here. Good for them.

Until 3 minutes in, the next song, “Wolves At Sea,” is pretty standard. At that 3-minute mark, it breaks into an atmospheric section with keys, which then transforms into a weeping death doom melody that would not be out of place on an Insomnium album. That melody continues for the remaining 2 minutes of the track.

After that, I want to mention “Shadows of Aurora,” which is track 4. I bring this one up because it has a bit of an OSDM flavor to it, which might make you question to what you’re listening for a moment. There’s a short intro leading into it, which honestly reminds me of early Metallica. The bell in the background may have something to do with that. I’m also a fan of the chug that segues into the lead with around 2 minutes left. This is one of the best tracks on the album.

“Into the Mountains,” which is track 7 of 8, starts out with some children briefly singing. The song itself is a mid-paced blackened banger with some solid clean vocals in the chorus. It’s a standard affair until about 3 minutes in when… Wait, WTF?! Look, it’s not easy to describe, so just listen and find out.

To close it off, the next track is “Shadowland,” which is nearly ten minutes in length and begins with an extended organ intro. Once it kicks in, it’s one of the meatier, heavier riffs on display. A little less than halfway through, it does transition into some cleanly picked guitars, then back into a very “blackened” section. The rest of the song sounds like this band of whom you may have heard, minus that organ outro.

So, I have a minor complaint. This is 8 tracks in 46 minutes, so most of them are lengthy, especially that closer. If you’ve read my reviews before, you’ll know I’m not a fan of the longest track being the closer, but despite my protests and overwhelming clout to stop this sort of thing, bands still wish to rebel… Anyway, other than that complaint, this is a fine effort. I’ve been pretty “meh” on their output for several albums, despite sort of enjoying Lifehunger.

What they really needed to do was something different. You know, step outside their comfort zone. They’ve done that in several ways here and while it’s certainly not a total reinvention, it didn’t have to be.  They’ve retained what makes them a solid band while adding in some different flourishes to keep it interesting. While I don’t see this being a year end list contender, I’m happy to see these guys back on the right path. A cold path… because, you know, sweaters, baby!

[Visit the band's website]
Written by J Mays
April 26th, 2021


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