Tragedy naturally hits everyone at some point in their life, yet it is equally natural that a similar sort of tragedy should strike artists also. The icy grip of death has no limitations, taking from us legends, visionaries and pioneers often far too young. I often sit back at think where would the likes of Death, Queen, Thin Lizzy and a whole host of others be had tragedy not befouled them in such a horrendous manner. Alas we must fight forward, do what is right and continue to live our lives whilst we can, that being said rising from these ashes can often be more difficult than it may appear.

Bursting forth as a phoenix in 2004 following the gutting death of Valfar and thus the legendary Black Metal heroes Windir, Vreid took to the helm. Taking previous members from the Norwegian Sognametal pioneers Vried set about to continue the legacy left by Windir, and I must say they have achieved this with much dignity and poise. Mostly all of Vried’s releases have been met with praise, not least the 2006 classic Pitch Black Brigade. A consistent output has keep Vreid fresh and alive and now with the latest offering from Season Of Mist we welcome Lifehunger.

In a typically Sognametal fashion proceedings open with Flowers & Blood, a Folk heavy acoustic introduction that lures us into the Melodic Black Metal cave that is yet to ensnare us. Immediately we find ourselves tangled in infectious Melo Black riff work torn straight from the lair of Immortal, alas this is not the only delicacy. We are also serenaded with the clear pronunciation of Blackened catchy vocals and lyrics in an overall perfect mixture of melodious chaos. Each track offers differing levels of speed, ferocity, pain and emotion, all the while experimenting with acoustic arrangements, clean vocals and catchy hooks.

Speaking of these clean vocals I must highlight one of the strongest tracks on this release, Hello Darkness. This almost In Solitude sounding number is a blinding testament to Vreid’s vast capabilities, light guitars, drums and vocals make this an incredible listen, and quite frankly I would have been happy if the whole album sounded like this track. Lighter moments aside we must not forget the power in tracks such as Lifehunger, Black Rites In The Black Nights and Sokrates Must Die all of which bring unrivalled Black Metal fury to an accessible yet inoffensive level. The only negative for me with Heimatt an overly long instrumental that would have been better as another lyrical masterpiece, however this is only a minor point and should not detract from the finished product.

So there we have it, all albums must have a downside and Lifehunger has but one, and an extremely petty one at that. This is an exceptional release, possibly one of the best Black Metal albums I have heard this year, I wouldn’t be surprised to find myself listening to this even in years to come. I thirst for more of Vreid’s exceptional catchy songwriting. I firmly believe that the ashes of Windir have been honoured with exceeding worth and praise, for if this is the future of those legends then long may it reign.

(9/10 George Caley)