Vreid // Welcome Farewell
Rating: 2.5/5.0 — And so they ramble…
Label: Indie Recordings
Websites: facebook.com/vreidofficial | myspace.com/thepitchblackbrigade
Release Dates: EU: 2013.02.26 | US: 03.05.2013
After the tragic, but remarkably metal, death of their vocalist, Windir was laid to rest in 2004. From its ashes came Vreid (“wrath” in Norwegian), which barreled onto the scene, knocking ten tons of shit out of listeners with machine gun riffage, under the command of ex-Windir bassist Hváll. Vreid have a black metal flavor that bears more than a few striking similarities to the misanthropic, war and history flavored style of Windir. Outside of that, Vreid have riff-heavy, black ‘n roll similarities to the likes of Carpathian Forest, some of the attitude and energy of Borknagar’s Universal album and a blend of the rocking grooviness of Sepultura and the more traditional and melodic elements of Taake, Koldbrann, Ragnarok, and middle earth’s own Carach Angren. Since 2004 Vreid have released a total of 5 full-length albums and 3 singles and after the impact their V album made on me and the release of the attractive sounding single “The Reap”, I had hugely inflated expectations for Welcome Farewell. It was touch and go for a while there, but I’m well cured, Welcome Farewell falls squarely into that ‘post great album slump’ category.
Vreid get the party started with “The Ramble” … maybe party is a poor choice of words for this rather aptly titled directionless meander, because I sure as hell didn’t find the party. The track is plenty melodic and repetitive in ways that should be, to quote Steel Druhm – “earwormy,” [That sounds painful, actually – AMG] as is the rest of the album, but it ends up as you progress that there’s just so MUCH repetition that you arrive at a déjà vu feeling something along the lines of “Where am I?” “Which song am I listening to?” “Have I heard this before?” A sense of vagueness creeps in and instead of familiarity growing with each listen, that gray is further exacerbated with repeat listens.
The snarling, rasping vocals on Welcome Farewell are left in the capable hands of Sture and just as on V and the albums before there’s nothing wrong with his delicious delivery that’s an aggressive mix of bleakness, beauty, violence and pure ecstasy. Tracks like “Sights of Old” and “Black Waves” have some great vocal moments where Sture pushes his scream to the absolute limit. I’m led to understand that the lyrics on Welcome Farewell describe a life-cycle using short stories, seen from an existential point of view, loosely inspired by Hváll’s own local community – you’re gonna need the lyric sheet to get your head around this one!
The production on Welcome Farewell is also much the same as on V, in that it’s modern and clean, with just the right amount of black metal rawness, ensuring you can still pick out the various instruments (including the bass) used by this black ‘n roll machine – such a pity good vocals, an interesting tale or two and decent production aren’t enough to rescue an unimaginative album chock-a-block with filler tracks.
Of the cutting-room floor scraps which made up Welcome Farewell there were a few tracks that while far from sounding new in this barrage of stale metal, they still ended up being fun listens. “The Devils Hand” (a party hearty gallop back to the ’70s), “Welcome Farewell” and “At the Brook” (with their definite Borknagar inspiration) will probably get some repeat play from me from time to time. But for the most part I’m doubtful I’ll pick this album over V when skipping through my playlist. Vreid have chosen speed, fury and repetition over providing fans with something new, imaginative and exciting and it’s definitely to Welcome Farewell’s detriment. On the bright side – I thought I lost my angry with New Keepers of the Water Towers… Thanks to Vreid, it’s back!