Norway - Full Moon 131 - 06/01/07
Black metal is probably the kind of music from Norway that gains most exposure and sales abroad. The fact hasn't been reflected in our menus here at Luna Kafé. Our main interests at the Lunar headquarters are within the pop bag and rock of less darker shades. Now let's make an exception, shall we?
Vreid (meaning Wrath in English) might be a proper place to start for a novice. Especially the new album I Krig (At War), I guess. It includes elements not typical to the genre that makes it easier to get into for those of us who aren't particularly into these darker corners of rock. Most of the songs start and finish in a quite quiet mode and tempo. A few have quieter breaks in the middle, too. A couple almost avoid the machine gun tempo all together.
And there are melodies, not quite of the whistling kind, but after all... You might even occasionally discern what the vocalist is singing about if you listen carefully and are familiar with the language. Vreid not only sticks to the mother tongue, they use the distinct dialect from Sogndal, the place in the western part of the country where the band members originate. This is a particularly exotic asset, even for Norwegians. Also, the band utilizes unusual instruments like piano and fiddle here and there.
The lyrics are I Krig's special asset. My prejudices suggested songs about Satan and his disciples, the burning of churches, manslaughter rituals, or at least some bloody sheep or pig slaughtering. Well, I was proven wrong. Satan and Hell are mentioned, but in a particular and not spectacular context. The words are based on a collection of poems written by acknowledged lyricist Gunnar Reiss Andersen. He was a member of the resistance movement in Norway during the Second World War and his war poems, released soon after, in 1946, deals with his life and impressions during the German oppression. Occasionally pompous, a lot of gloom and doom, of course, that fits the musical genre, and might be relevant and reflect situations also today. I Krig was released in Norway on May 8th (June 4th elsewhere). This is the day still celebrated as Liberation day, the day the Germans surrendered in 1945. Hardly a coincidence.
For me the title track, "Millom Hav Og Fjell" (Between Ocean And Mountain) and "Dei Daude Steig Av Grav" (The Dead Ascended From Their Graves) particularly stand out. The former, eight and a half minutes long, is spiced with a traditional folky fiddle here and there, even a break with a fiddle and cello interplay! The latter seems to be the most fluctuating track of them all: tempo shifts, several guitar themes and melody lines. "Millom Hav Og Fjell" is a mixture of the two aforementioned to some extent with elements from a close to traditional Norwegian folk song. The 65 seconds of piano playing at the end, that also finishes the album, sounds merrier than anything else on the disc. Is there a trace of light and hope after all?
What I've said so far might make the black metal purists turn away in disgust. All in all, musically we're not talking about a crossover album. Vreid takes some surprising short detours. And the variations within some of the songs makes I Krig more tasteful and easier to get into, even for one who hasn't listened carefully to heavy rock (I guess we didn't even use the term heavy metal at the time...) since around Rising by Richie Blackmore's Rainbow quite some decades ago. (Well, almost.) The album is at least 90 percent faithful to the genre and ought to keep the faithful contingent satisfied. If you're in for growling vocals, massive walls of fuzzy distorted guitars and a tempo that makes headbanging dangerously risky, well, there's no need to look any further. The better parts of I Krig are filled with them, also the three songs mentioned above. Further information with some downloads etc. are available at Vreid's home page.
Copyright © 2007 JP