Consider VREID destiny fulfilled at this point. The one-time WINDIR has honored the long-ago passing of their brother Terje "Valfar" Bakken by keeping the remaining contingency intact and pursuing their own prolific constitution of black metal as commandeered through decades-past variations. As of 2013, they've now yielded six albums through the extent of eight years, receiving a Norwegian Grammy nomination for their previous album, "V". Another one seems like a gimme at this point.
What's outstanding about VREID is how many hard rock, trad metal and punk elements they've looped into their charred songwriting scriptures. They've left WINDIR's agonzied folk dimensions buried appropriately with Valfar and created something that transcends one pigeonholing subgenre. On their latest album "Welcome Farewell", VREID continues to impress with their heady pulses, frequent tunefulness and cross-breeding multi-angles that's made them toasts of their ilk.
Not that black metal is to be considered catchy, not even CRADLE OF FILTH at their most melodic, but you have to give VREID tons of credit for having the courage for breaking all the parameters of their core identity they can possibly get away with. "The Reep" or "At the Brook" could've been anything MERCYFUL FATE, CIRITH UNGOL or even JUDAS PRIEST laid claim to within the vast span of their collective careers. This is what makes VREID, along with NACHTMYSTIUM, AGALLOCH and BROWN JENKINS, some of the most interesting black metal artisans on the scene today.
You can expect "Way of the Serpent" to be genuinely morbid and genuinely fast, but listen up for some quickly planted NWOBHM and eighties punk lines spread beyond the brackish shred of the first half of the track. The second half is textured with Stian "Strom" Bakketeig and Sture Dingsoyr's dizzying guitar interplay and unrepenting solos carried over from the thrashing parlays preceding them. Their solos on "Welcome Farewell" aren't merely brilliant, they're realized characters that speak in tone-washed tongues.
On "The Devil's Hand", VREID mashes up some varied UK hardcore modes into their tenebrous mix and while these guys have been scrambling up styles since their 2005 debut "Kraft", their nervy ingenuity is never to be discounted.
"Sights of Old" may be the summary of VREID's entire reason for being, and it captures traces of old-school METALLICA and DARKTHRONE set upon a demonic fever pitch. Thrash or black metal? They're both, really, and yet, there's more of those classic metal overtures and seventies-based psych rock dotting the later segments. This is the genius behind VREID's genre jumping and it's why "Welcome Farewell" should be one of the mandatory metal stopovers you make in the early goings of this year.
- Ray Van Horn, Jr.