Vreid - Wild North West
Season Of Mist
Black Metal
8 songs (45:57)
Release year: 2021
Vreid, Season Of Mist
Reviewed by Goat

You would be forgiven for looking at the title of Vreid's latest (ninth!) full-length and feeling your heart sink a little at the idea of some commercialised cowboy metal Five Finger Death Punch-esque fiasco. Fortunately for everyone these Norwegians have not, in fact, jumped the proverbial shark and left their enjoyable mixture of melodic black and black 'n' roll metals behind; if anything, they've embraced it, inspired by the beautiful natural bleakness of their Sogndal home, close to Norway's longest and deepest fjord. And they've pushed their boundaries out even further beyond 2018's fun but flawed Lifehunger, making an album-length film during lockdown to go along with the album (apparently a dream of bassist and band leader Hváll since 2009's Milorg). It's a lot to ask in these modern times of short attention spans when music is treated like fast food rather than an aural feast for the senses, yet Vreid have always had an interesting hunger and ambition for their art that always helped make them more than just another black metal band. And although essentially a glorified set of music videos that are rather difficult to watch unless you buy a special edition of the album with a DVD (the film was available until recently on the band's Facebook and individual videos can be found on YouTube) you have to applaud Vreid for going that bit further.

Musically, of course, Wild North West is more than solid, with the band's coal-black strain of galloping melodic metal present and correct. They've moved away from the acoustic interludes of before to a greater embrace of organ-style keyboards that add a dollop of atmosphere and black 'n' roll swagger, and often make for a better song overall. This is especially true of Into the Mountains, which features a keyboard theme worked on by the band's late Windir comrade Valfar, discovered by Hváll during a search through old rehearsal recordings, and subsequently used as the basis for the whole song. Imagining how much other snatches of genius are hidden in that archive could be the basis for plenty a flight of fancy, yet the results here are quite fantastic, a proggy leftfield burst of originality that meshes well with the band's stirring riffs and simultaneous clean and harsh vocals.

Elsewhere, the band's melodic sensibilities are to the fore on the title track, with plenty of widdly soloing thanks to guitarists Sture and Strom, and the galloping Wolves at Sea ups Vreid's post-Immortal black metal side. Semi-ballad The Morning Red continues the potentially bad habit of including dark, gothic-tinged tunes, but it succeeds here thanks to being a far more ominous and compelling piece than the previous album's Hello Darkness, built around strong guitar leads and using the vocal mix well. It's hard to find weak tracks, from the thrashy Shadows of Aurora to the quirky Dazed and Reduced, the ten minute Shadowland probably the weakest if you had to pick one but still far from being actually bad. Another great outing from the Norwegians.

Killing Songs :
Wild North West, Wolves at Sea, Into the Mountains
Goat quoted 80 / 100
Other albums by Vreid that we have reviewed:
Vreid - Lifehunger reviewed by Goat and quoted 70 / 100
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
To see all 8 reviews click here
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