By Dr. Abner Mality

There is surely no harder working band in Norway than Vreid. It seems they have a new record out every year and all of them are great. Great yet completely unique and distinct...NOT an easy thing to accomplish. "V" is no exception, although I do think the title is pretty lame.

"V" drops the military theme the band took up on previous album "Milorg" and again shows a band that writes tunes with the precision of a Swiss watch. It's not quite as thick and brutal as "Milorg"...the sound is crystal clear and sharp as a razor. Every note slices like the blade of a master samurai, especially the soloing, which is exquisite. If there's any band that proves the adage that unproduced black metal is best is completely wrong, it's Vreid. These guys take pride in their sound and skills and that's reflected in their albums. While the sound is clearer on "V", the vocals of Sture are probably the sickest and grimmest ever. With a couple of striking exceptions where clean vocals are used (most obviously on the epic "The Other And the Look"), Sture keeps his tone dark and nasty.

Repeated listenings will reveal the depths to these songs. The pace is quick and a strong thrash influence is felt on dynamic opener "Arche" and the ripping "Fire On the Mountain", but eerie melody is never far behind. "The Sound of the River" is maybe Vreid's most melodic song yet. The massive "The Other and the Look" is a superbly arranged tune where clean, low-key tones morph into blackened rifferama...the longest and most involved Vreid tune to date. But I'd have to say "Welcome To the Asylum" is my favorite...what an incredible riff pops up on this one. Only the average "Slave" disappoints...that tune just lacks punch.

Hard to rate Vreid's albums since they are all strong in different ways, but "V" is certainly a worthy addition to the canon. They are coming over to the States this year and I'd advise you to pay them a visit.