After just the first listen I reached the conclusion that Vreid's latest album, their sixth to date, 'Welcome Farewell', is their best so far. I enjoyed their previous offering, the Norwegian Grammy nominated 'V', but this just has something extra to it.
This time around they seem to have a more exciting approach to their trademark 'Black and Roll' sound taking on board a lot more influences from across the genres and eras, proving to be a real musical progression for the band. The album has been two years in the making but well worth the time effort and wait.
First track, 'The Ramble' opens quietly and builds in volume almost as if approaching you from a distance, then comes that slow ominous plodding riff that says Vreid! The pace picks up with the arrival of the vocals, alternating the tempo between the choruses.
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A faster tempo on 'Way Of The Serpent' from the offset and mostly staying that way, a track that brims with sinister excitement, the dark edge coming from Sture's sinister rasping vocals, something that I am greatly enamoured with throughout the album.
A chugging repeat riff opens out to some great guitar work on 'The Devils Hand', before the vocals even kick in, the track also contains a great mix of spiralling and chugging riffs.
Title track, 'Welcome Farewell', one of the longer songs on the album, has an excellent opening build, a beautiful quieter, reflective section towards the latter part of the track and great spiralling riffs throughout.
The grooves don't come much darker tor sexier than on 'The Reap', this is an awesome track, very black and emotive, listening makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck, a very catchy, stick in the mind track that you will be singing along to.
At a mighty eight and a half minutes long 'Sights of Old' is the longest track of the album, opening with simple guitar notes and atmospheric cymbal crashes before escalating into a frantically fast tempo, there is a very reflective drop away after the midway point and the song returns with a more optimistic feel to an otherwise intense and sinister feeling, excellent track.
A great little bass led opener on 'Black Wave', a slower tempo number with a great blackened chugging groove to its construct and a sweet solo in the final minute.
The closing track, 'At the Brook' has a reflective feel to the sound with a really great, dirty, chugging riff that has your head nodding along and sandwiched in between are some fabulous bass and guitar segments, there is also a complete change of feel in the second half which takes you quite by surprise, you can never accuse Vreid of being predictable.
There is also a bonus track, 'Fossil', on some versions of the album.
It is an almost impossible task to pick a favourite track, each is equally as brilliant and individual as the next, the whole album is a joy to listen to end to end. In the words of bass player Hváll, "Dark, heavy and Vreid are the three keywords to describe it".
There is no doubt about it, this is an epic masterpiece and Vreid's finest album to date. 'Welcome Farewell' was produced and mixed by Hváll in Studio 1184, Asker, Norway and Mastered at Studio 210 in Berlin Germany.