Vreid - Sólverv 01Those who remember my review of Vreid‘s rambling Welcome Farewell will remember that they arose from the tragic end of Windir. Vreid‘s sound bears some similarities to Windir‘s warring black metal roots, but it also goes beyond that. They’ve honed a black ‘n roll sound that’s loaded with repetitively catchy riffs and melodies that bludgeon in their familiarity and overuse. They can be likened to many, many other bands, but they’re also recognizably Vreid. Déjà vu and vagueness are an odd mix, but Vreid have it down to a fine art. Had Welcome Farewell never happened, had Sólverv followed on from I Krieg, Milorg and V, you probably couldn’t have held me back from listening to it with excitement. Unfortunately, Sólverv hits at a time when the band seems to be running out of interesting musical ideas on. With so much top-class metal out there, it’s really tough to get excited about listening to something that most likely won’t move beyond “average.” All that’s left for me to do, other than tackling the imposing pile of trve laundry that’s taking over my house, is to take Sólverv by the horns and hope for the best.

After the first play-through, a few things stand out and unfortunately it’s not the music. It’s very clear that Vreid tried to recapture some of the magic of their past work, but unfortunately there’s an aggression and energy distinctly lacking from Sólverv. Vreid indicate that the album is themed around the bloody heritage of Hváll (bassist), the fathomless valleys of Sogndal (Norway) and his ancestors that fought and died to preserve their land – the overriding emotions are sadness and nostalgia, though you’re constantly hoping for destruction, battle and glorious victory. The next thing you notice is that the tracks are considerably longer than on any of Vreid‘s past albums. Where in the past they included a long track here or there, now they run on excessively, with half the material exceeding seven minutes. Part of what made V so listenable was the brevity and catchiness of the songs. That card isn’t played here.

I bet you’re wondering if repeat listens help, right? I went on to play Sólverv almost exclusively for three weeks (yes, that’s why this review is so damn late). I couldn’t and wouldn’t give up on it. Knowing how personal the album was to the band I wanted to experience it fully. Sadly, repeat listens reinforced my initial perceptions. When you take the time to sit with each track, all you’re left with are small moments that stand out and satisfy. If you listen hard, “Haust” may remind you of “Arche” and goes on to showcase a band capable of delivering each note with perfect precision and at times their melodies haunt a little like those of Carach Angren. “S lverv” has a little punchiness that reminds me of “Wolverine Bastards,” “Geitaskadl” captures the familiarity of Taake around the mid-section, and “tti sitt Fjedl” and “N r Byane Brenn” have an element of sadness about them that I’d normally associate with Eudaimony.

Vreid - Sólverv 02

The weirdly mismatched guitar melodies and drum-work in “tti sitt Fjedl” and the duel between the dirty guitar riff and the darkened, Black Swan-like ballet performance that opens up “N r Byane Brenn” give you an inkling that Vreid are trying desperately to keep your attention and it works. For a little while at least. By the time you get to “Storm fr Vest” and “Fridom med daudens klang” it feels as though you’ve gotten all you’re going to get from Sólverv.

The production is modern and similar to what the band used on their previous albums. Dynamically Sólverv drives down the very middle of the road – it’s neither crushingly loud nor loaded with dynamics. I had to dig deep to find things to keep me listening to Sólverv. Hváll and his band of merry men know their respective instruments and they deliver each riff, solo and blast beat with absolute textbook precision. Unfortunately, though Sture Dingsøyr’s croaks and rasps still resemble those of old Bathory, they do little to save Vreid from just sounding like every other black metal band churning out cookie cutter album after cookie cutter album each year. This saps the emotional receptivity of Sólverv and the album never ends up feeling as moving as it should.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Indie Recordings
Websites: facebook.com/vreid
Releases Worldwide: October 9th, 2015

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  • AndySynn

    Interesting… I’ve been completely unable to settle my feelings about this one (hence I plumped for reviewing the new Kampfar instead… oof, what a rush)… but had been seeing a lot of “9/10”, “masterpiece!”, “album of the year” reviews reposted by the band, which I definitely don’t agree with.

    So, yes, interesting to hear/read a contrasting viewpoint (though I personally thought WF was fantastic).

    • I noticed the high scores on their label’s site also – I clearly hear a different album to what they’re hearing.

      • Madam X, I am totally with you here. I really, really tried like you did to get into this record given my love affair for Milorg but this one is just a mess. I have no idea what happened here.

        • Got to way it was a tough album to review.

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        I have yet to find a band or record label that reposts negative reviews.

      • Carlos Marrickvillian

        It’s like they have some kind of alterior motive!

  • André Snyde Lopes

    That album cover is the real show-stealer here. Might’ve just run into my favorite this year.

    • Feytalist

      It’s quite striking, isn’t it.

      • André Snyde Lopes

        I might get the album just for that, seriously!

        • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

          I have picked up some of my all-time favorite albums because of the cover. But this method has led to quite a few dissapointments too.
          But what does it say about the music if the band doesn’t bother to put a killer cover on the album?

          • Norfair Legend

            On the reverse I have not picked up an album for it’s cover only to be later surprised by how good it was. What is one to do?

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            To make a good recommendation I should know a few things like what kind of music you like, what albums you already have and… you age.
            But I am not above taking wild guesses so here I go…
            Suppossing you don´t already own it, “Don´t Break The Oath” by Mercyful Fate is a great album to pick up based on the cover and have your ass kicked by the music.
            Suppossing it´s 1989 and you’re in your early teens and barely getting into Metal, “Dr. Feelgood” by Motley Crue is definitely an album to buy because of the cover and love because of the music.
            The album “war Master” by Bolt-Thrower is another album I bought “back in the day” without even ever hearing about the band before. Bought because the cover kicked ass, turned out the music kickss more ass than the cover.
            Kreator´s “Coma Of Souls” has a great cover and better music.
            I could go on and on…

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      Yes I agree its a killer.
      I love the colours and the sphere but not a sphere background that looks like the sawn section of a tree. I really like how the artist has rendered the title into the very cool and poisonous looking water. For some reason maybe the makes me think of spaghetti westerns.

      This is a top shelf metal album cover!
      Though for me AHABs (the boats of…”) is still my favourite this year this looks like a close second. I just wish both these records were a bit stronger!

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        To me that sphere background is the sun setting behind the tree-monster on the cover. That sunset is what reminds you of spaghetti westerns. Either that or the tree-monster´s arms look like spaghetti and you just thought ” western” because spaghetti by itself isn´t metal enough.
        But the sphere on the backgroung could also be light from a huge bonfire lighting the inside of a deep cave.
        Or if I knew what “Sólverv” means I could come up with something that made more sense.

        • Carlos Marrickvillian

          It would solverv the mystery

        • Carlos Marrickvillian

          Yes I do think it’s cool how the sunset also looks (to me) like section of a tree!

  • Feytalist

    I feel exactly the same way. I love Vreid, and have since their beginning. But on this one, something just isn’t the same. I’m actually getting intense flashbacks to Windir… which is not surprising, obviously. And I *like* Windir. But when I want Windir I’ll listen to Windir. But still, what was awesome about Vreid was their punchiness; intensely catchy, driving songs… and it’s just not there on Solverv. Such a shame.

  • Alexandre Barata

    Kinda reminds me of last Khold album… Disappointing.
    The songs have some amazing riffs, but other than that it is boring to listen to.

  • Wilhelm

    Vreid has never really impressed me with any release, so I’m not surprised. The embedded song is alright, but not something I would buy.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    The embedded track sounds decent, but too much competition for my metal dollar at the moment
    off topic ABBATH…I’ve been listening to his new tunes in particular Warriors which kicks all kinds of arse.
    When is that album due?
    Will there be a pay per view AMG battle royale to review it?

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      Nah, they´re going to score it a 2.0 and score a black metal album from an ex-emo girl a 5.0 on the same day. And replace the “snobbery” subtitle with “Clickbait” for that week.

  • Martijn Brugman

    The intro of the embedded track made me mutter “the Fimbulwinter” in a packed tram…

  • Sigh….. I really miss Windir….