Home > Black Metal > Vreid – “Pitch Black Brigade” Review

Vreid – “Pitch Black Brigade” Review

Vreid - "Pitch Black Brigade" (2006)

Vreid – “Pitch Black Brigade” (Tuba Records, 2006)

Black metal is plagued by a dirty little secret. Many blackened bands have forgotten the first commandment of metal: Thou shalt rock. They are so busy fiddling with their “corpse paint,” deciding who they worship or don’t worship, fulfilling the generic conventions (sizzling treble guitar, thrash tempo), or creating ten minute dark symphonic opuses to bother to put a little rock in their roll. Luckily, there are aggregations like Vreid who buck this trend and remember that metal whether blackened or unblackened has to have some “Rocka Rolla,” as Judas Priest pointed out so poignantly and poetically.

Vreid means “wrath” in Norwegian. The band started down its dark path in 2004. It features three former members of the symphonic, “folkloric” black metal group, Windir. Windir’s multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and “incontestable sovereign” (what is it with metal bands and authoritarianism?), Terje “Valfar” Bakken died in January 2004. Windir’s official website described Valfar as a “musical genius.” Events would prove, though, that however musically inclined he was, Valfar was no rocket scientist – he set out on foot in the middle of a snowstorm to hike to his family’s cabin and froze to death before he got there. Windir disbanded after his death when the remaining members decided they couldn’t go on without their leader.

Hvalle (Jarle Kvate), Steingrim (Joren Holen), Sture (Sture Dingsoyr) (what is it with black metal bands and pseudonyms?) still wanted to play black metal but, without the authoritarian artistry of their sovereign, they chose a different direction and decided to follow the anarchist Bon Scott who always proclaimed, “Let there be rock.” The song “Pitch Black Brigade,” the inspiration for the title of this humble blog, is positively anthemic, a word that is not usually invoked to describe any songs in this genre.

Vreid – “Pitch Black Brigade“: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DykjMRgjZnU

Let’s just set the guitarist/vocalists Lemmy obsession (including Lemmy’s interest in World War II) aside for a bit.  Other reviewers ascribe Vreid‘s “rock action” to incorporating punk rock into their black art. I guess since I graduated from the School of Hardcore Punk Rock (and because I’m old) I see it a bit differently – I hear the influence of Judas Priest (“British Steel” and earlier) and early Iron Maiden in Vreid‘s “riff-age” rather than the strains (or stains) of punk.

The “riff-age” and the “rock action” grind to an ugly and unseemly halt with track 5: “Hengebjorki.”  For some inexplicable reason, they decide to bust out an OMD-inflected, minor key, atmospheric intro complete with club-like drum tracks.  What?  Where the hell did this come from? All I can say is, “Boys, you’d never find this on a Motorhead album. Never.” Nuff said.

The Good: It rocks, a rarity these days in the land of black metal.

The Bad: The singer/guitarist’s Lemmy fixation.  Have the courage to be yourself, homeboy; there’s only one Lemmy and you are never going to out-Lemmy Lemmy.

The Ugly: Dudes, leave the Eurotrash DJ at home and kill the black metal A-Ha stylings.  It’s not cool or metal.

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