Vreid @ Barfly, Camden

With Solefald & In Vain
4th April 2013

Review by Alan Hicks

It’s apt that snow is falling in North London the day the Camden Barfly is invaded by Norwegians. Not just any Norwegians mind you but a 3 pronged attack topped by grammy nominated black metallers Vreid.

Before the blackened fury of the headliners there are 2 worthy support acts, the first being the more progressive IN VAIN (7/10). Recently released album ‘AEnigma’ is a combination of screaming but melodically controlled anger, showcased here tonight with ‘Against the grain’, complete with a booming Trivium-esque chorus while ‘Image of time’ utilises wonderful Enslaved-like melodies to ramp up the atmospherics, fitting the proceedings perfectly. At times the In Vain train is slightly stunted by some off-key clean vocals and the lack of charisma emanating from growler A. Frigstad. This though doesn’t change the fact that the band has some of the best songs of the night and have the venue soaking up the elevated vibes that hover above the stage during a sometimes enthralling set.

They may contain the same members as In Vain tonight apart from steam-punked and co-founding singer Cornelius Jakhelln but SOLEFALD (6.5) compared to the previous occupants of the stage are like a group of crazy Scandinavians during a naked lake party in sub zero temperatures. Looks fun but in a way that is not totally convincing to the uninitiated. That said the venue literally goes mad for the hyper-avant-garde reverberations being slammed down from the stage. The band may have their slower moment, Hell there is even a ballad thrown in but largely they have the partisan Barfly crowd in the palm of their hands resulting in a rollicking sixty minutes of swirling hair and sweaty bodies, which in all credit is hard to do tonight as the Camden venue is bloody freezing.

The most obvious observation about tonight’s line-up is the vast difference between the sounds of all 3 bands which makes for a nicely balanced evening of metallic delights. If In Vain have explored the more progressive leanings of the metal genre and Solefald the more off kilter regions it’s left to headliners VREID (7) to lay down some razor wired riffs and straight up blackened vocals.

Having already visited these shores as support to Paradise Lost last summer and an end of year one-off headlining date at the Underworld just down the road where the impressive Wretched Soul and The Furious Horde provided quality support Vreid are no strangers to the capital in recent times.

Tonight though they have new album ‘Welcome Farewell’ to support and it’s the striking ‘The reap’, complete with its strange Manic Street Preachers-esque guitar intro that really kicks things up a gear. From the moment the “Shattered windows, curtains ripped…” lyrics hit the cold air an extra layer of goosebumbs appear on the arms of those before them, lead singer Sture’s immortalised vocals adding an icy coating to the atmosphere.
It’s not all about melodies that creep up in the dark with Vreid though.

They are more well known for their black’n’roll assault and ‘Pitch black’ encapsulates this to the extreme. In truth the band struggle to keep the momentum for the whole of the set but on a cold April night there are few places where you would feel the warm glow of Norwegian metal as much as tonight.

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