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After a menacing sounding keyboard-intro culminating in a short spoken threat directed at christianity, ‘Vrede’ (swedish for ‘wrath’) starts off very fast and aggressive. When hearing the first minutes of this album, one expects it to be raging War Black Metal in the vein of ‘Nightwing’ or ‘Panzerdivision Marduk’ (‘Vrede’ was recorded between these two albums, and two out of the three Allegiance members were also part of Marduk at that time). But no, that is not the case. After the first couple of tracks, the blast-beats become fewer and the music gradually slows down and becomes more melodic. Towards its middle, this album has turned into mid-tempo Viking Metal with a strong nordic mood. By its end then, it further evolves in the direction of epic Progressive Metal (second half of ‘Hedna stål’), before finishing with ‘Skymning’, which is kind of an instrumental Progressive Rock-outro consisting of atmospheric keyboards, bass, acoustics and soulful guitar-solos.
This transition from furious Black Metal towards calm Progressive Metal/Rock is what makes this album so unique. Don’t get me wrong, ‘Vrede’ is certainly not a soft album, in contrary, much of it, especially in its first half, is as violent as you could wish it to be. The vocals always stay grim and hateful throughout the whole album, and they are well performed. There are no clean vocals. But instead of focusing solely on brutality (there are more than enough Viking/Black Metal albums released which do that, and some good ones too – check out the first In battle album), risking to be one-dimensional and/or boring; the music on ‘Vrede’ is varied and interesting, representing diverse moods. Allegiance combine excellent musicianship with mature songwriting, and they competently master the different styles present on ‘Vrede’. This is no crossover Metal, the passages from one genre to another are floating, and they always fit and sound natural. It never seems forced, like so many other bands that mix styles tend to do.
The sound is typical swedish. ‘Vrede’ was recorded at Abyss Studio and mixed by Peter Tägtgren - you get the idea.. The leadguitar-work is outstanding, and the bass, clearly audible in the mix, is used as an instrument of its own, not only following the main guitar-riffs, but playing independent patterns.
‘Vrede’ offers the perfect mix of aggression and atmosphere, which is just what an accomplished Viking Black Metal Album should; and if you are interested in this genre, I can only strongly advise you to get it.