Review: Vreid - Welcome Farewell

Band: Vreid
Album: "Welcome Farewell"
Style: Melodic black metal
Release date: 2013-02-22
Origin: Norway

1. The Ramble
2. Way of the Serpent
3. The Devil's Hand
4. Welcome Farewell
5. The Reap
6. Sights of Old
7. Black Waves
8. At the Brook

I wonder how many people have written reviews about Vreid and failed to mention Windir? It must be a damn annoying curse for this band to always be compared to the past, but it really is unavoidable.
Anywho, I have always felt that Windir never peaked during the band's existence. They gradually became better and better for each album and the last album "Likferd" (2003) was really impressive. Sadly, it all came to an end when mainman Terje "Valfar" Bakken froze to death in a blizzard in January 2004. The remaining members chose to continue in Vreid and have since released five albums, which brings us to number six - "Welcome Farewell".

I have sort of followed Vreid from a distance since the demise of Windir, much to the fact that it is common knowledge that Valfar wrote most of the music in Windir + the guy had a voice that really stood out in a vast ocean of black metal-vocalists. But I have heard a couple of songs with Vreid and always felt that it was ok, just nothing instantly memorable or something that hooked me completely. What I mean to say is that I've listened to this band before, but never sat down and properly analyzed the music.

So here we go; "Welcome Farewell" is actually better than I thought. It is melodic black metal with a large focus on just melodies, yet you never hear them venture off into folk/viking-metal as Windir often did. That is all good, even though personally I'd preferred said path. I really cannot overstate just how melodic this band is, since you wont find any traditional black metal-riffs on this album (except for maybe on "Sights of Old"). Instead, they incorporate riffs and melodies from all kinds of genres, but focusing mainly on heavy- and thrash-metal. It's a bit weird and I personally think that the result is a bit confusing.

A problem that I have with the music is that some melodies, while catchy, doesn't really fit the music at all. Just listen to the beginning of "The Devil's Hand" to hear what I mean. Also, sometimes a song stops abruptly and a new riff that doesn't have anything to do with what we've just heard, appears. It's annoying as fuck and even though I understand that Vreid tries really hard to break the boundaries of black metal, it just doesn't work.
But my main problem is vocalist Sture which manages to sound almost as boring as Shagrath (Dimmu Borgir), who in turn might be one of the dullest black metal-vocalists I've ever listened to. While technically efficient  Sture just lacks a certain identity and the passion that I crave when it comes to black metal-vocals. Sorry, but that's the truth.

All in all, this is a confusing-sounding album which is neither good nor bad - it's just so awfully in-between. And from the previous stuff I've heard with Vreid, it all sounds exactly the same. Whilst being a good craftsmanship in itself, "Welcome Farewell" doesn't stand out in any way and I'm having a hard time remembering any song after a couple of listens. I want to like this band so much, but I'm guessing this sort of music wasn't made for me. Bummer...


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