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Black Metal History

Album Review: VREID Welcome Farewell

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It's both ironic and fitting that, while debate heats with every passing year about who is more "kvlt" in the realm of black metal, there are more and more bands willfully snubbing their noses at such fundamentalist thinking, blowing the genre up from the inside out… in 2013 you almost can't bastardize black metal nearly enough.

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Vreid are ostensibly a traditional BM band – the screeched vocals, sawtooth ascending/descending riffs and icy demeanor are all there – but latter day work by the group frequently plods along at an early 90's death metal pace, and their most accessible songs (ie. "The Reap") have a tendency to veer unexpectedly toward vintage thrash. In other words, they don't play by the rules but on the other hand the material doesn't necessarily rise to any premeditated snubbing of those rules, either. In less talented hands, the Vreid formula would be a calculated mess.

For instance, "Sights of Old" may remind one of a band like Children of Bodom, not in a literal sense but to the extent that both bands have assimilated a subset of interrelated influences so thoroughly and unselfconsciously that it's difficult to deconstruct the individual parts; at the same time there's a discernible looking backward, a nod toward traditionalism that often results in such bands being overlooked or under-appreciated next to their more self-aware, postmodern kin.

Overall, Welcome Farewell is more of a tempered, mature vision of what Vreid were shooting for on, say, 2006's Pitch Black Brigade. There is little by way of modernization here – no formative prerogative that hadn't already been present in those early years – but neither does the group feel inclined to throw in an obligatory blast beat rave up anymore. If it doesn't suit the overall tone of the album (one which is noticeably darker and more misanthropic than 2011's V, by the way) then out it goes. Which is at it should be: there is no shortage of high potency, blast beat-driven purge being covered elsewhere in the genre.

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