The latest Vreid record is an homage to the classic black metal sound the members helped create way back in the days of Windir while simultaneously experimenting with bold new soundscapes and storytelling. Wild North West (Season of Mist) is a pounding cataclysm of power and fury, yet it does so with a style and panache in a way that only these Norwegian black metal stalwarts could deliver. They offer a fresh take on the traditional black metal tropes while cutting the growls and blast beats with a melody that keeps your head banging and your mind racing, like on the hypnotic “Dazed and Reduced” and the ominous tone-setting title track.
The inception of Vreid (meaning ‘wrath’) unfortunately was a result of the tragic loss of Windir’s founder and front man Valfar, who died of hypothermia in 2004. The remaining members chose to continue under the Vreid moniker and have gone on to be a prolific Norwegian black metal band, releasing an album every two years. Sólverv (Indie) marks their seventh opus, an album inspired by their Norwegian heritage and ancestry, a passion embedded within the black hearts of each band member. Perhaps not attaining the same notability status as other Norwegian BM bands that still uphold huge popularity today, such as Satyricon, Gorgoroth, Taake etc, a loyal fan base has remained devoted since the Windir days.
Remaining true to the BM paradigm, Sólverv exudes 90’s second wave black metal nostalgia, with blast beats and fast paced tremolo picking in abundance. A morose atmosphere permeates through, as lead singer Sture’s devilish snarl leads us further into the deep dark depths of hell. At times the rigid black metal elements wear a little thin; however the interjections of synth and none blast beat led track ‘Ætti sitt Fjedl’ offers some release from the relentless monotony. Tracks such as ‘Haust’ and ‘Sólverv’ have almost a Darkthrone-esque quality, whereas ‘Geitaskadl’ is a full on thrash metal assault, full of vigor and bombast. Final track ‘Fridom Med Daudens Klang’ is laden with atmospheric embellishments, a tolling church bell, war sirens, tense drum beat and haunting synth all obscured by an incongruous bass line that kills the premise of the bleak introduction.
The production is a little thin but representative of the minimalistic icy black metal sound that the Norwegians seem to craft so well. Groundbreaking and innovative this album is not; nevertheless it does what it needs to and to a credible standard. Not really pushing any boundaries but solid reliable black metal, which to be honest I never really tire of.