Vreid
Welcome Farewell

Formed from the ashes of Windir nearly a decade ago, Norway’s Vreid has since carved out a consistently engaging body of work.  Their sixth album, Welcome Farewell, shapes as one of the most anticipated and contentious black metal releases of the year.   Contentious due to Vreid’s continuing evolution away from their traditional black metal roots to increasingly incorporate catchy, muscular rock ‘n’ roll elements into their sound.   Welcome Farewell is their most polished album yet, armed with a big, punchy production job and the most accessible batch of tunes the band has written.    Even compared to the somewhat more polished vibe and black ‘n’ roll punch of previous album, V, Welcome Farewell is a noticeably cleaner, refined beast.

Stylistic quirks aside, at heart Vreid are still very much a black metal band.   It’s just that they are no longer willing to rest on their laurels and be restricted by lazy categorization.  Subsequently the ‘rock’ quotient of their sound has been ramped up and a thrashy, traditional heavy metal vibe snakes its way through the album, further diluting their once predominantly blackened template.     Regardless of genre preferences Vreid’s song-writing chops continue to shine, ensuring their continuing change in tact has not resulted in half-baked arrangements or blatant courting of mainstream audiences.   These songs are fully fleshed-out rockers, front-loaded with deadly hooks and the variety and crunch to keep you clambering back for more.   Icy sheets of black metal blanket burly rock influences and the aforementioned thrashier, heavy metal tone.    Vocally, Sture’s biting, blackened rasp is firmly entrenched in the black metal realm even amidst the bouncier riffs and upbeat rock grooves.

The mid-tempo, blackened gait of “The Ramble” begins with an atmospheric soundscape before unfolding into an instantly catchy double bass-backed riff and galloping rhythm.    The scorching “Way of the Serpent” is an urgent, swirling vortex of blast beaten fury, catchy hooks and frosty riffs encased within a tight, dynamic structure.   The song is an absolute gem, featuring Vreid in all their glory and firmly reminding fans old and new that they haven’t forgotten or abandoned their black metal roots. “The Devil’s Hand” and “The Reap” will have the purists sharpening their knives, largely abandoning the taut, feisty black metal of the opening couple of tunes in favour of a driving rock base and thrashy groove.   But thankfully the catchy anthems are rippling with energy and meaty hooks, upholding the band’s integrity whilst delivering a pair of belting metal tunes.

The ambitious “Sights of Old” is the longest (at 8.39 minutes) and undoubtedly one of the more interesting songs on the album.   The song flows seamlessly even as its tone changes dramatically about halfway through.  The sinister melodies and blackened, thrashy mayhem of its opening half morphs into an extended jam; featuring gorgeous, restrained guitar noodling, warm percussion and soft, alluring melodies.   Questionable spoken word vocals tarnish the feisty black ‘n’ roll grooves of “Black Waves”, before the versatile “At the Brook” steadies the ship with a slow-building rise, stomping rhythm and a refreshingly aggressive edge. 

Welcome Farewell is a terrific album that successfully takes Vreid’s black ‘n’ roll formula to its next logical step.  And where Vreid travels creatively from here is anybody’s guess.   Perhaps they will continue to deviate from the black metal path or repeat themselves through a string of similarly produced and musically inclined efforts.  Either way, as long as they continue to write quality, addictive metal songs, I’ll be on board.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Luke Saunders
March 22nd, 2013

Comments

  1. Commented by: Guilliame

    Great Great Great!


  2. Commented by: Guilliame

    There is an almost Celtic quality to some of the music here. Very unexpected and wonderful album!


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