Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Vreid: Welcome Farewell (2013)


With success come expectations. Vreid’s incredible V was lavished with praise from all corners; making my own top 10 of 2011 was probably the least significant. I don’t envy the position where the Norwegian black ‘n’ rollers found themselves in following that success. Do you follow it with more of the same, cursing yourself to the handicap of easy comparisons and betting on your ability to become even better (Master of Puppets)? Or, do you change direction (South of Heaven)?

Vreid certainly did not change direction. For the uninitiated, Vreid’s brand of black ‘n’ roll is the super-slick kind typically found on Indie Recordings, but it would be equally at home with Century Media or Roadrunner. The “for fans of” sticker would include Satyricon in big and bold, with Borknagar and Dark Fortress in smaller print. They can re-use the leftover stickers on their latest release.

Upon hearing Welcome Farewell, I’m not even sure they are aware how highly regarded V is. It could equally be the work of a band staying the course because that’s what they do, or a band consciously trying to replicate their own successful formula. Welcome Farewell is basically the same record, but not nearly as good. Try listening to V’s standout “The Sound of the River” back-to-back with sound-alike “At the Brook,” which is such a lazy re-write that they apparently didn’t bother to even change the title all that much. That pretty much sums up Vreid’s progression here.

I’m not saying this is a bad album, at least if you ignore “The Devil’s Hand.” From a lesser band, it might even seem like a very promising release. But this is Vreid. I expected a lot more.

The Verdict: 3 out of 5 stars

Buy Welcome Farewell

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