As some regular readers of the blog may know, I review albums every month for Metal Hammer. Here’s a reprint of my verdict on the new Vreid album that was the lead review a few months back.
V is for victory.
It’s a familiar enough tale in the world of metal. A band with a shed-load of promise find their best laid plans scuppered due to an untimely death of a founding member and the rest of the group ultimately spend what’s left of their days limping on, a shadow of their former selves. Norway’s Vreid have put a different spin on this sorry story though, and they’ve actually found themselves emerging stronger after the demise of their singer Valfar in 2004. Back then they were known as Windir, but thanks to a name change and a renewed focus, the four-piece have ended up a much more impressive prospect as a result.
Their latest salvo V (named after the roman numeral for five and not the much loved space alien show from the 80s) sees the band at the peak of their powers, thanks in no small part to the return of their erstwhile guitarist Strom and their decision to produce the slab of wax at bassist Hvall’s home studio. Featuring nine immaculately recorded tracks, the band have widened their musical scope further than ever before and as well as the tried and tested black and thrash blueprint, the quartet pay tribute to many eras of metal on an album which at times feels as if we’re taking a joyride in Doc Brown’s time-travelling Delorean, as we get to regularly peak into the past and future of the genre, more often than not in the space of the same track.
Take Fire On The Mountain for example. Opening with some elemental samples, effects-laden keyboards eventually give way to some good old fashioned Bay Area-style riffing, before Vreid throw in some folk chants and acoustic guitars for good measure. It’s a dizzying concoction of sounds that might sound a little too schizophrenic in the hands of some bands, but the four-piece know exactly when to reign things in. The mid-paced, Maiden-y stylings of The Blood Eagle is another gem and features some military drum beats, muscular fretwork and unearthly shrieks and the fantastically named Wolverine Bastards boasts some excellent, melodic guitars too.
The anthemic The Sound Of The River is the pick of the bunch though and its odd time signatures, uncertain tempos and old school folk chants make the track as menacing as a Gary Glitter appearance on Yo Gabba Gabba. However, pretty much everything on their fifth record is a solid affair and by looking back at the past, Vreid have helped create a very bright future indeed. 
ENSLAVED, SLAYER, EMPEROR
DARK ESSENCE RECORDS, 2008
HEAD NOT FOUND, 2003
THE WRETCHED END
NOCTURNAL ART PORDUCTIONS, 2010