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There aren't very many relentlessly balls-to-the-wall black metal albums out there that I dig. Once a band tries to overdo things with overabundant blastbeats and overcook the tremolo picking in their overcomplicated riffs, all groove goes out the window and it makes my corpsepainted phallus fall frightfully flaccid (See exhibit A: Marduk's "Panzer division Marduk"). And then there's this insane-as-fuck album from straight outta Oslo by 1349.
I didn't always like 1349. I found them to be a little too generic, actually. I'd heard "Liberation" and "Beyond the apocalypse" before this one, and it just felt like I was listening to a band that I'd heard countless times before. It was fast, regular, not-too-bad-and-not-too-good black metal from the frozen realms of Norway. Sound familiar? Of course it does.
It took more than a few attempts to will myself to check out "Hellfire". After all, I had no real desire to hear more overly typical black metal from a band that I felt like was renown for typical black metal. However, "Hellfire" is a lot different from anything else you'll find from 1349's catalog. The insane riffing and ridiculous speed is still perfectly intact, but with "Hellfire", 1349 provides an element of groove that was noticeably absent on their previous releases, and the result is that "Hellfire" holds more than a few memorable tracks that you'll find yourself coming back to time and time again.
Despite the length of this album and many of the tracks (It's 8 tracks and over 50 minutes), it's an album that makes you feel like things are constantly moving along, and I'm not just referring to the crazy sensation of movement you get from Frost's incessant blasting. The songs, in all their insanity, do reflect a series of ideas with their assortment of unique riffs and movements that seem to leave you with a desire to hear everything that is to come. Some tracks even leave you wanting a quick replay just so you can fully embrace the really groovy parts. That's not a feeling I get very often when it comes to insanely fast raw black metal.
So, in conclusion, if quality black metal that's loaded with truly professional blasts and an endless stream of killer riffs is what you're looking for, 1349 is a decent band to look into. If you want the cream of the penis from 1349, the you can't really go wrong with "Hellfire". This is truly one of the oft-overlooked great albums of the past 10 years in the world of black metal.
Written for globaldomination.se