Vreid - Kraft
Tabu Recordings
Diverse Black Metal
8 songs (40'14")
Release year: 2005
Vreid, Tabu Recordings
Reviewed by Alex
Album of the month

As tragic as Dimebag’s death was, the loss of Valfar was no less devastating. Those of us who admired Windir’s art were shocked and stunned, including this reviewer. And if you read any of my Windir reviews for this site you know that I am a huge fan. I was saddened to hear that Windir would be no more with Terje Bakken’s passing, but I understood the decision and, moreover, respected it. There could be no Beatles without John Lennon or Nirvana without Kurt Cobain. You can’t let the band live if its soul has walked towards the light. When I heard that Hvall & Co founded Vreid (“wrath” in Norwegian) I was both excited and intrigued. Would Vreid be a mere Windir continuation? Or would Vreid go in a different direction, even with the Windir’s shadow always looming large? Kraft provides the answers and carves another niche for the excellent black metal band in the already astounding Norwegian pantheon.

Three Vreid members, Hvall (bass), Steingrim (drums) and Sture (guitars/vocals), come from a Windir lineup after they joined forces with Valfar to elevate Windir from the one-man band. They are joined on Kraft by Ese (guitars) who worked for Windir as a sound engineer. Let us not forget, however, that Hvall, main songwriter in Vreid, had his own band, Ulcus, before becoming a member in Windir and contributed heavily to the 1184 compositions. Even with Windir connection being pretty strong, Hvall is his own man when it gets to songwriting and plenty of originality can be expected. Vreid delivers that, and more, having created one of the most eclectic diverse black metal albums in Kraft.

The opener Wrath of Mine is something I see Windir do on Likferd. More modern production sound, yet undeniably Norwegian black metal, with main riff sounding so folk inspired and not forced. This music engrains in the fabric of my brain, not wanting to leave. There is no accordion here, but some synth (my speculation) gives it a nice touch, along with a dark guitar lead in the middle, not unlike what Dark Tranquillity does lately. Everything else in the music becomes a background for the guitar to produce somber touches reverberating within. Next song, Raped by Light, is a complete departure with its punky, in your face attitude and almost death metal structured riffs. Sture still shrieks and guitar drones at times, but this song could almost be called At The Gates inspired if the demised Swedes decided to take on some black metal influences. Ready for another turn? Here it comes, with Helvete being an electronic, Arcturus-like, instrumental soundtrack for more than 3 min before grinding guitar steps in. Still, with background kids’ voices and creepy electronic sounds, this song is rife with experimentation.

Those of us who long for blackened thrash and buzzsaw guitar sound will be rewarded with Unholy Water and Evig Pine. Uncompromising in their approach, the songs blast and shred all over the place with Viking melodies still finding room in Evig Pine. Following Evig Pine explosion is a dramatic clean acoustic Empty. Who knew these guys could do anything remotely like this? Strong bass balances out Depeche Mode vocals and you can pick out every word in this Voice of the Soul.

Eldast, Utan A Gro and the closer Songen At Fangen is probably where Windir would have been had it continued. Dark clean strings, fast blastbeats, raw yet not frozen sound due to the clean production and dominating bass, yells that make me shiver, sweeping sad tremolo melodies, Viking choruses, fantastic leads – these songs are epitome of evolving Norwegian extreme music, no more minimalistic, but not abandoning the roots completely either. I think those of you who enjoyed Enslaved Below the Lights will like Eldast, Utan A Gro quite a bit.

Individual musicianship in Vreid is very strong, and Hvall’s own Studio 1184 production is superb. Clean and legible, it does put a lot of emphasis on bass, Hvall’s instrument, so that my car’s dynamics and subwoofer at home were rumbling with low frequencies. Sture’s vocals remind me of Valfar’s. No wonder he filled in on vocals the last few gigs Windir did as a band. With songs both in English and Norwegian (please don’t ask if it is still the same Sognafjord dialect as I am behind on my Norwegian) Vreid continues to carry the torch in the lyrical aspect as well.

The year has just started, but I would be surprised if this album does not find its way on my Top 2005 list. RIP Windir, long live Vreid!

Killing Songs :
Wrath of Mine, Raped by Light, Helvete, Eldast Utan A Gor, Songen At Fangen
Alex quoted 92 / 100
Other albums by Vreid that we have reviewed:
Vreid - Welcome Farewell reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 100
Vreid - V reviewed by Crash and quoted 82 / 100
Vreid - Milorg reviewed by Charles and quoted 75 / 100
Vreid - I Krig reviewed by Alex and quoted 85 / 100
Vreid - Pitch Black Brigade reviewed by Alex and quoted 85 / 100
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