Norway's VREID put the world on notice with debut album, "Kraft", the statement made one of razor-wire riff black metal, strong songwriting, and a dash of rock and roll groove. It helped the band, which features former members of the now defunct WINDIR, stand out just a bit from the pack. It was with open arms that I welcomed "Pitch Black Brigade" into my humble home, and the album does not disappoint. Diversifying its music just enough to show growth and imagination, but holding tight to those thrashy black metal chords and grooves, "Pitch Black Brigade" is a fine piece of work from beginning to end.VREID possesses a keen understanding of feeling, groove, and the almighty riff. The evidence of said understanding comes by way of the tempo-vacillating "Da Draumen Rakna", the wicked bass lick, rock and roll rumble, rolling riffage, and a bit of SLAYER gallop woven into "Left to Hate", and the white hot thrashiness of the excellent "Pitch Black". Technically speaking, this is good shit. While the band unleashes a couple more traditional and well-written black metal tunes in the raging "Hang 'em All" and gnarly groove of "Our Battle", it is on the remaining three tracks that the band's compositional prowess shines through the darkness. On "The Red Smell", classic black metal savagery with those lovingly sick blasts combines with lighter moments that are both macabre and tense, not to mention a set of intriguingly strange lyrics. The masterpieces are "Hengebijorki" and "Eit Kapitel For Seg Sjolv", both involved arrangements with smartly incorporated keyboard flourishes. The nine-minute "Hengebijorki" begins with a kind of symphonic keyboard section and builds into harsher territories with black metal chord progressions, also utilizing choral vocals in one section. This one is indeed an epic track that fortunately does not come off as uselessly excessive. "Eit Kapitel for Seg Sjolv" boasts another killer bass line, even cooler riff explosions, and some very interesting keyboard parts. In the final analysis, "Pitch Black Brigade" is a varied album that is still firmly rooted in raw black metal fundamentals. The balance is a tricky one, but VREID makes it sound easy. Highly recommended.
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