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Continuing to build off their relative success over the last nine years, Vreid return with their sixth full length, “Welcome Farewell”. Vreid have always had a knack for writing catchy riffs that border on the rockier, more traditional side of things, and this album is no different in that capacity. “Welcome Farewell” is an album that flirts with black and roll, thrash and straight up black metal, while still retaining a very cohesive and accessible feel. Despite the accessibility, this is still a heavy album which should appeal to those mocking the last line that I wrote.
When Vreid first formed, back in 2004, many complained that the band diverged too far from the pagan black leanings of Windir. If you’ve followed Vreid’s career at all, then you’ll know that there are some similarities to Windir (especially in the lead guitar work): there would have to be, as this point in Vreid’s story there are four former Windir members; but if you think Vreid is just another Windir clone, then you are very, very wrong. While Vreid does maintain a black metal foundation, the black and roll and thrash elements are much more prominent this time around.
Much like Entombed did with death metal, Vreid keep the core of the genre and make it much more accessible to those from the outside. Rather than blasting away to all abandon for three quarters of an hour, “Welcome Farewell” utilizes rock rhythms and traditionally inspired leads to create a massively enjoyable listening experience. Songs like “Death’s Head” and parts of “Sights of Old” bring forth a form of thrashy black metal while “The Ramble” and “Way of the Serpent” show the band utilizing fast paced trem lines and blistering drum beats (the biggest Windir influence on display here). Rollicking bass lines and chunky riffing help provide some headbanging chugging sections. The vocals stay in a deeper, raspy, shouted style for the most part, coming across like Galder's vocals on the Old Man's Child masterpiece, “The Pagan Prosperity”.
Not afraid to delve into a more commercial direction, songs like “The Reap” couple “Clayman” era In Flames riffing with a deeper style of raspy shouting, which builds into traditional styled, scaled leads float around while a running double bass beat tracks along. The albums longest runner, “Sights of Old”, starts off with a ferocious black metal lick and blast-beats which builds into a very Aura Noir inspired thrash fest. After battling back and forth between thrash and black, the band wanders off into a sort of indie rock section with spacy melodic guitars for a while until coming to a close. I could go on and on about how each track is a rocking form of black metal with thrash influences and how it all bounces back and forth before settling back down into black and roll, but that would be annoyingly redundant and is probably already bordering on redundancy with the descriptions already written.
Vreid's “Welcome Farewell” would be a good starting point for anyone looking to test the waters of black metal. There's enough of the harsh material here to please most fans of black metal and there's enough melody, catchiness and plain rocking out to appeal to fans outside of the circle. While purists will no doubt be turned off by these outside elements, there is a lot here to enjoy by enthusiasts of several genres: black metal, thrash, traditional, etc. Vreid may not be the exact reincarnation of the legendary Windir, but they are pretty damn good at what they do: black and roll that is as hard as iron, yet still surprisingly accessible.
Written for The Metal Observer: