Formed in 2004 from the ashes of Windir, Vreid (meaning ‘wrath’) have carved out a remarkable niche for themselves over the course of seven full-length albums and the live DVD ‘Vreid Goddamnit’ released back in 2010. It has been a mere two years since ‘welcome farewell’ was released, and the band are now back with the militant brutality of ‘Solverv’, an icy and ill-omened set that contains a mere seven tracks, although these account for a lengthy fifty-minute run time.
Opening with the epic ‘Haust’, a grandiose mix of symphonic elements, blast beats and raw, savage guitars, Vreid appear to be unswayed by the passage of time, possessed of the same blackened fire with which they began their jounrney some eleven years ago. A varied, yet consistently brutal piece, the music provides a tumultuous backdrop upon which Sture pours his lyrical scorn, his voice a haunted rasp that slithers from the speakers with serpentine malevolence. No less vital is the crushing title track, which contrasts symphonic lead guitar work with wind tunnel riffing that burns with cold fire. It is this ability to imbue even the most ferocious of tracks with that crucial element of melody that makes Vreid’s music so memorable even whilst the primal fury of their music remains intact. Next up is the lengthy ‘Geitaskadl’ which is developed like a classical composition, the band moving through a variety of tempos and moods, from the furiously devolved thrash sensibility of the opening to the martial bridge that appears in the midst of all the sturm and drang and even ethereal, orchestral moment of calm that emerges at around the half-way mark. It highlights the strength of Vreid as composers and there’s a furious intelligence at work amidst the metallic bluster that elevates Vreid’s work far above the ordinary. With elements of latter-day Satyricon in its DNA, ‘AEtti sitt Fjedl’ adopts a mid-tempo groove that marks a clear separation between it and the previous track, although the classical elements remain prominent and as melodic, folk-infused vocals appear, it feels entirely natural to the evolution of the music so progressive is the song writing employed by the band on this album.
One of the album’s most varied and symphonic moments, ‘Nar Byane Brenn’ is a remarkable piece of song-writing that has an atmospheric, soundtrack-y feel to it. Evocative and varied the band build a dark and torrid atmosphere with synths before tearing into a selection of increasingly brutal riffs, before bringing the tune back to its starting point for the conclusion. A mini symphony in intent, ‘Nar Byane Brenn’ is the album’s dark, majestic highlight. In contrast, ‘Storm Fra Vest’ is a remarkably straight forward barrage of taut blackened riffing and mind-melting blast beats that gets the adrenalin flowing before the album wraps up with ‘Fridom med daudens klang’, a nine-minute monster that neatly sums up the band’s many musical achievements to this point. Opening with the funereal tolling of a bell and air raid sirens, the track is a dark, symphonic masterpiece that draws the listener into the heart of a war-torn city, piled high with the detritus of war and the corpses of the slaughtered innocent. Juxtaposing the near unlimited resources of the imagination with the desolate riffing style of black metal, Vreid manage to successfully take the genre in unexpected directions without abandoning the icy, misanthropic fury that lies at its core. It’s a remarkable end ot a remarkable album.
Vreid have always stood proudly apart with their music and, with ‘solverv’ the band have once again blurred the lines between the bombast of Wagnerian classical music and the frozen fury of black metal. There is a depth of ambition here that is impossible to ignore and yet, for all of the subtlety of the band’s song writing, they don’t step away from that vital rawness that gives black metal its edge. What stands out here, more than anything else, is the band’s independence of spirit and willingness to go wherever the muse may take them, and it is that quality that makes ‘solverv’ an epic force to be reckoned with. A dark, edgy, symphonic masterpiece, Vreid have topped their previous achievements with this impressively varied work.