Vreid (wrath in Norwegian) formed in 2004, rising out of the ashes of Windir's untimely demise following the tragic death of lead singer and founder, Valfar. “Lifehunger” is Vreid's eighth full-length studio album, having put out a record roughly once every two years since their formation and the release of their excellent first effort 'Kraft'. Like a blackened, thrashier version of Windir, Vreid have picked up Windir's torch and carried it faithfully onwards into new pastures, experimenting with darker themes and displaying fewer folk music influences in their music than their previous form. After fourteen years, Vreid now have a solid back catalogue, so can they keep up the form with this year's “Lifehunger”?
The jangly, acoustic intro “Flowers & Blood” belies the album's dark and menacing themes and is neatly juxtaposed against the soaring riffs and thrumming power soon to be unleashed by second track, “One Hundred Years”. According to the band themselves, “lyrically this song is completely inspired by the words and the myth of the spectacular Knut Hamsun”. Just as with Windir, Norwegian history and culture is often at the heart of Vreid's songwriting. A definite stand-out track on this album.
Titular track “Lifehunger” follows up with galloping rhythms and ice cold riffs. “The march continues”, “the hunger for life revealed” as the lyrics go, and indeed Vreid's appetite for destruction is on open display here.
“Hello Darkness” offers up something unique with its ominous opening notes and haunting lyrics, with Addi from Sólstafir on guest vocals taking Vreid off on a musical excursion that works very well and provides an interesting mid-album track.
It's not long until we're back in heavier territory with what's probably the most black metal track on “Lifehunger”, the grimly dark “Black Rites in the Black Nights”.
Penultimate track 'Sokrates Must Die” provides the most fast-paced track on “Lifehunger”, providing three and a half minutes of head-banging blackened-thrash madness before 'Heimatt” rounds off the album with its instrumental melodies.
As a long time listener of Vreid, to this reviewer's ears at least, “Lifehunger” must rate as one of the best long plays of their career so far, if not the best. “Lifehunger” is the sound of a band who have a real passion for what they do and put their blackened hearts and souls into every shredding riff and pounding drum beat. Dark, yet also uplifting and invigorating, “Lifehunger” is a satisfying and rewarding listen and another jewel in Vreid's bloody crown.
Photo credit: Havard Nesbo