Release DetailsLABEL Indie Recordings
RELEASED ON 2/22/2013
Vreid is more than melodeath, beyond black and roll, and forging a route to greatness. 'Welcome Farewell' is honest and sincere, fun and adventurous, daring and disciplined… goddamnit.
We all ruminate on death. From that first moment when the truth is swallowed, it can never be avoided again, before the doom finally consumes. Imagine if the band you formed not only focused on this grim, inevitable reality, but whose existence was literally precipitated by an untimely demise. This goes far beyond losing a crucial core member at the height of success — a Cliff Burton or Randy Rhoads — Windir was essentially Valfar’s solo project, whose two 21st-century releases were backed by the four present members of what would become Vreid. Strom’s rejoining his former band members has in recent years developed into surgical axe work, with 2011’s V heralding a more memorable, riff-driven, war-torn monster.
And it’s the very spectre of war which looms most heavily over these sons of Sogndal. Where Windir’s sense of heritage ventured clear back to the Battle of Fimreite, Vreid stays relatively current when drawing their pointillistic shades. They exist not between two worlds, but rather in a sort of “reverse Pangaea” of several diverse regional styles converging into a single dark art.
Vreid have done away with virtually all synthetic elements of the band (read: no keyboards) but such subtle touches creep through, like the robotic harmonization in the chorus about midway into “The Ramble”. We shouldn’t be surprised by now — they’ve been this way nearly ten years to the day, experimenting with a variety of styles, increasing dynamics… oh, which reminds me: the mix feels off in a few spots. Nothing too major, but for example, the last two minutes in “Way of the Serpent” would benefit from stronger presence from the lead guitar. Odd, considering it’s front-and-center in “The Devils Hand” which immediately follows. There, everything sounds so properly placed: the enthralling three-part harmonies; the explosive blast beats; the efficient arrangements.
Impressive thought I Krig was, my first exposure to the band yielded some solid songs, but not a full album of gems. This all changed with, Milorg, which fast became a 2009 favorite as a late-year dark horse. Both are clearly concept albums about the struggles and perseverance of Norwegians during WWII, and while V closely followed this tradition, it reflected life from a more philosophical standpoint. However, the cover art unifies all, specifically with the flag of Norway proudly displayed in three different two-tone incarnations.
By contrast, Welcome Farewell looks ostensibly stark, but has more depth and a broader color palette than ever before. Although the image appears confusing since: Death directs people from his porch; down a winding path they’re already on; through an open gate and into the woods; where a line somewhere forms; in which they wait for the Devil to read them something at a glowing tree. This is likely one of the many things reportedly inspired by Vreid’s local community — its environment, culture, history — which may be initially lost on outsiders, but the beauty of our growing global collective is accessibility above all else. Xenophobia be damned.
Vreid is more than melodeath, beyond black and roll, and forging a route to greatness. Welcome Farewell is honest and sincere, fun and adventurous, daring and disciplined… goddamnit. They’ve rarely been this catchy, yet the music still seems challenging, but not remotely a chore. If this is your last hike, it’s worth it.