Review Summary: A concept record put together by the remnants of Windir detailing the exploits of the Norwegian freedom fighters Milorg during World War II
After the tragic and untimely demise of front man Valfar the surviving members of Windir were left with a decision to make. They could either continue Windir or pack it in and seal the legacy of Windir forever. The band went with option B but it didn’t take long before the Norse musicians found themselves back in the metal scene. Former Windir keyboard player Gaut Refsnes went on to form the classically influenced extreme metal group Cor Scorpii who would later on release a quality brand new album in 2008. The other Windir members Jarle Kvale, Jom Holen, and Sture Dingsoyr would go on to form a dynamic black metal band named Vreid who would infuse Norwegian black metal with thrash and other elements. Vreid and their new album Milorg is the band and record that I have chosen to write for my 100th review.
Vreid’s fourth full length record Milorg is based upon the Norwegian group of freedom fighters who would go on and oppose Nazis while reclaiming their land in World War II. This is a brilliantly executed and thoroughly captivating concept record detailing Nazi occupied Norway in a dynamic extreme metal package that seamlessly shifts through 1970’s progressive rock, classic heavy metal, thrash, the folkish leanings of Windir, black metal, and rock n roll. First and foremost the strongest aspect of this album lies in the impeccable songwriting that allows the band to be adventurous. The base of the music is of the well produced and guitar driven black metal variety that allows enough breathing room for killer harmonies and progressive passages to integrate it self into the rock n roll aesthetic that clouds the vision of Vreid.
The guitar duo of Sture and Ese is nothing short of impressive. Aside from the standard tremolo picking abuse that most black metal bands employ, Vreid favor a classic rock/metal approach with their soloing, their harmonies, and some seriously rocking grooves that recall the black n roll shtick that Satyricon tried to pull off but so much better this time around. The minimal yet still crucial instrumental sections on Milorg recall of Pink Floyd and King Crimson with ethereal keyboards outlining stellar guitar melodies. Vocally Sture sticks to a raspy, phlegm induced growl that proves to be effective in displaying the strong lyrical content but he isn’t afraid to show off his capable singing voice either on Alarm and Disciplined. His lyrics, much less the atmosphere of the whole album portray feelings of triumph and overcoming long obstacles which I cant help but feel inspired by on the strength of writing in Speak Goddamnit and Milorg alone. Complementing the powerful riffing and the voice of Sture, a furious top-heavy buzzing sound is heard coming from Jarle’s bass guitar. He and Steingrim’s relatively safe drumming approach form a competent rhythm section in jarring together some of the most uplifting metal anthems to date.
So to tally up Vreid and their new album Milorg. Milorg is a powerful and unique heavy metal record that effectively combines strong musicianship and songwriting with the hooks and lasting power necessary to garner a good sized fan base. Coming in at eight tracks and forty minutes of material, Milorg provides a reasonable listening experience without dumbing down or losing the listener’s patience with self indulgent three minute soloing or too dynamic for it’s own good twelve minute songs. Having completed a six week tour with fellow country men Enslaved and a European tour with Pestilence looming in the horizon it’s safe to say that Vreid is setting out to conquer the blackened hearts of metal Viking style.