Best Bets: The Sound Of The River, Blood Eagle, Welcome To The Asylum
In Vreid‘s V (2011), I think I may have found The One. This album is so good that when I finished listening to it, I didn’t come away from it with a sense of satisfaction — on the contrary, I was livid with myself for not having discovered Vreid sooner. How could such wonders have escaped me? Okay, enough gushing, at least for now.
Black metal in general can be a little narrow, with dissonant guitars over formless drumbeats with a shrieking, incomprehensible vocal performance. Many metalheads love this kind of black metal; I am not one of them. V has a much more modern sound, not quite like the black metal of yore. The melodies are much clearer and Sture Dingsøyr’s vocals far more defined than those in your typical church-burning grim and kvlt Norwegian black metal band.
Another of the many, many aspects of V that I love is its momentum, even during lengthy or slow songs. Generally speaking, I only tolerate an album’s intro, at best. “Arche,” at almost seven minutes long, didn’t seem that promising, but it practically flew by. Vreid’s willingness to branch out undoubtedly contributes to their ability to keep things moving. At no point do they stagnate, and they’re obviously not afraid to switch up their style rhythmically or dynamically. Some bands make an effort to do the same, but the result is often a schizophrenic, cluttered mess. V is not quite that jarring. Each song has its ups and downs, its lights and its heavies, so it’s impossible for a listener to get bored.
Ironically, the lowest point of V comes from my favorite song on the album, “The Sound Of The River.” I hesitate to say anything negative about this one because I could listen to it for several hours a day on repeat, but admittedly it gets a little rambly in the middle and towards the end. That said, the almost haunting melody of the chorus and the tortured vocals more than make up for the song’s barely noticeable shortcomings. Not every song has to be technically perfect in order to rock socks off with maximal efficiency.
All of the songs on the album are good (which probably goes without saying at this point in the review), but “Welcome To The Asylum” also deserves its own mention, not only for its delightfully harsh criticism of Christianity, but also its incredibly evocative tone. When I hear it, I really feel like I’m being welcomed (more like dragged kicking and screaming) to an asylum. The constant drumbeat adds to the insanity, and disjointed riffs simulate the feeling of losing one’s mind quite well. Dingsøyr screams the lyrics and never lets up, so that even you can’t necessarily understand the anti-Christian lyrics, you still get a sense of anger and general unease. I love it!
I have no doubt in my mind that V will end up one of my top ten albums of the year, if not all time. What a wonderful introduction to a talented band.
II. Blood Eagle
III. Wolverine Bastards
IV. The Sound Of The River
V. Fire On The Mountain
VI. The Others And The Look
VIII. Welcome To The Asylum
IX. Then We Die