Vreid - Milorg
Indie Recordings
Black Metal
8 songs (41:05)
Release year: 2009
Vreid, Indie Recordings
Reviewed by Charles
Unsuprisingly for those familiar with Vreid's previous work, and that of three members' former band, Windir, the band's fourth full-length, Milorg, is black metal deeply steeped in folkish melodies and melodic melancholy. In fact, paradoxically, it seems to me a little like Vreid are becoming more like Windir on this record than on earlier efforts. Their debut, Kraft was rather different to records such as 1184 and Arntor... despite some moments of great similarty, being overall rather more energetic and punkish on tracks such as Raped by Light. Milorg channels Windir's spirit quite closely and evocatively, if retaining the greater rock 'n' roll influence that distinguishes Vreid from its predecessor.

The album is strewn with gentler folkish passages, and indeed these seem to become a fully-integrated part of the band's identity rather than simple techniques for relieving tension or building atmosphere, as with the lengthy opener, Alarm. Whilst not really doing anything too special in these quiet moments, they do possess some character, largely thanks to the production, which gives them a faded, antiquated sound almost (almost!) reminiscent of some of the more accesible Xasthur moments (see Argumento ex Silentio). At the same time, Milorg has the capacity for real metallic power, with the more ferocious black metal whirlwind riffs here, if not being particularly brutal or heavy by 21st century standards, conveying a deep, ominous rumble that befits a concept album about Norwegian experiences in Word War II.

As with many metal works that embrace extremes of loud and quiet, the sound that comes to define this record is the more flexible one that lies in between the two: Milorg works best when Vreid is creating heavy, strolling-pace riffs that retain a strong melodic sensibility or alternative means of adding harmonic interest, be this through the overlaying of shiny lead guitar lines or in the tonality of the riffs themselves. Or, as with the closing title track, the music may imprint itself on your ears through bellowed vocal lines dealing with heroism and battle, in this case with the reality of the subject matter adding more depth and credibility to a standard black metal theme.

The strength of the album, ultimately, is that rather nebulous quality that is assigned particularly frequently to black metal bands, its atmosphere. The album's subject matter, its sound, and the importance given to mournful melody throughout, lend it character and evoke a real sense of sadness. There are few particular specific weaknesses, but overall it's probably not quite as good as a lot of other black metal records that have done similar things in the past, such as Taake's earlier albums, or even Windir itself. At times you feel it is falling slightly flat, simply because there is not quite enough invention or excitement on here to make it a great record rather than a good one. When black metal bands rely heavily upon digressions into gentle folk, it ought to capitvate you, drawing you in before the inevitable musical assault overwhelms you again. Vreid aren't quite able to do that consistently enough on Milorg.

Nonetheless, I do not wish to be negative about this album. The comparisons I made are real greats of modern black metal, so perhaps they are a little unfair. Milorg is a good record with a strong atmosphere and a distinctive sound. Those interested in Vreid's music will certainly find this enjoyable if not life-changing, and this also comes highly recommended to those with a more general interest in melodic and folk-influenced extreme metal.

Killing Songs :
Alarm, Milorg
Charles quoted 75 / 100
Other albums by Vreid that we have reviewed:
Vreid - Lifehunger reviewed by Goat and quoted 70 / 100
Vreid - Welcome Farewell reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 100
Vreid - V reviewed by Crash and quoted 82 / 100
Vreid - I Krig reviewed by Alex and quoted 85 / 100
Vreid - Pitch Black Brigade reviewed by Alex and quoted 85 / 100
To see all 7 reviews click here
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