VREID’S MILORG: THIS ALBUM KILLS NAZIS
You know I’ve always been really grateful to Mr. Rosenberg and Mr. Neilstein for taking me under their wing and letting me write about the music I live for while never making a big deal about my disability. That’s right, everyone, I’m Canadian. Now I know a lot you free and brave folks might not understand my condition but let me just say that I’m not that different from you. Sure, I might talk a bit funny and worship a giant red leaf (oh and that green one, too), but MetalSucks has always been a tolerant organization that understands that Metal is for everybody. Whether you’re chugging Bud Lights (yuck) or Molsons, they both look the same on the way out in the alleyway after the show.
However, counteracting this side of me is my Norwegian heritage, which undoubtedly sourced my genetic predisposition to abrasive guitar noise played by pasty white dudes. Ahhh, it all makes sense now.
During my return to the north over the holiday season, I figured the best way to make use of my time in the overwhelmingly depressing darkness of a Norwegian winter was to listen to classic black metal albums. I also kept myself engaged in what was happening in the current metal scene there which contrary to tr00 kvltists did not ring out with the last stab wound inflicted on Euronymous’ head.
Enter Vreid. Formed from the remnants of Windir, the single most underrated Norwegian metal band, Vreid were up until this year three albums deep into being singularly underrated. Now with Milorg, the band has meticulously crafted its best record and springing off the initial enthusiasm of national media they might finally be able to secure success internationally.
Milorg might just be the most proudly Norwegian album you will ever hear. The lyrical focus, continuing from the previous album I Krig, is on Norwegian resistance during German occupation in World War II. The album coincides with a resurgence of patriotic interest in the history of this period in Norwegian film and literature. While Vreid is certainly not the first band to write about WWII, their lyrical focus and the music support each other in a pretty extraordinary way. Finally a band has been able to treat such epic subject matter with equally epic music.
Vreid’s style shifts between dramatic blast beats and “black and roll” head-nodding grooves that are cemented together with the folk – metal melodies they learned from their time in Windir. While the folk elements shouldn’t be confused for acoustic guitars or the beer-spilling polka metal you usually associate with that term, Vreid take their cues from traditional rural music that really lends an ethnic overtone to songs about national struggle. Their progressive arrangements are pretty reminiscent of the latest output of fellow countrymen Enslaved, though using clean vocals more sparsely but for good dramatic effect.
The 9 minute opener “Alarm” gives a representative cross-section of the styles within the album and vividly paints the dramatic instance of the German invasion of 1940. While a lot of the album is lyrically simple, the words are intelligible and effective. When vocalist Sture Dingsøyr screams “The war has entered Norway!” I admit that I got a pretty strong impulse to club a Nazi to death with butt of my rifle (sweet album cover by the way).
The only appreciable flaws on this album is that Vreid in their blastiest often resort to the most played-out of black metal clichés, silly wordless screaming. Additionally, some of the songs recycle the same structure of a long progressive interlude sandwiched between two hooky chorus (“Speak Goddamit”, “Milorg”). This isn’t bad in itself but it unfortunately makes the weaker song more forgettable in comparison (“Milorg”) and it is largely responsible for the first half of the album being stronger than the second.
After this brilliant piece of work I can only hope that the rest of 2009 has releases as absorbing and unique as this one. The war might be over but Vreid are going to bring the fight to you!
(4 Horns out of 5 horns)