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Back when I was first getting into black metal, 1349 was a name I kept hearing, so eventually I went out and bought a few albums. I was impressed to say the least, by the Norwegian black metallers, who take their name from the year that the Black Death arrived in their homeland of Norway.
1349 play a style of black metal that is faster paced and more aggressive sounding, similar to the stuff that Swedish bands like Marduk have been coming out with. This particular style of black metal has a much greater emphasis and speed and aggression than normal, and has more of a death metal influence.
The guitars on this album are heavily distorted, and an annoying fuzzy sound is present during the entire 38:20 of the album. If you can hear past the overused distortion, you can make out the riffs the band is playing, which are actually quite good and would sound much better if the distortion wasn't used so much. "Riders of the Apocalypse," boasts a catchy and memorable guitar riff, and the guitars on "Pitch Black" and throughout the album are equally good. At certain times the band also slows down and plays a more melodic, traditional black metal type sound. An example of this is the opening to "Satanic Propaganda," which has a very dark acoustic melody to it. "Deathmarch," the albums only instrumental also has this type of feel to it.
When I first heard of 1349, I had no idea who was in their lineup. That being said, I had no idea that Frost, also of Satyricon, was in 1349 until I watched a YouTube video of the band performing live. The drums are probably one of the best, if not the best parts of the album. They're much more "brutal" sounding than anything Frost has ever done with Satyricon, on least on the Satyricon albums that I've listened to. They add a sense of ferocity to the album that goes along with the ferocity of Ravn's vocals.
Ravn is among my favorite black metal vocalists. What he lacks in variation of his tone, he makes up for with a sheer viciousness that perfectly expresses his dark hatred for anything Christian and makes the music sound much more evil.
Unfortunately for Ravn, Frost, and the rest of the band their talent is almost completely inaudible to the above mentioned overuse of distortion. You have to struggle to make out the guitar riffs, drum beats, and the vocals which become nearly unintelligible, and the bass might as well not even be on the album at all. It makes the album very difficult and almost impossible to listen to, and initially turned me off to 1349.
If you can get past this one major flaw, Liberation is still enjoyable to listen too, although at the very least average black metal.
It’s safe to say most people are drawn to 1349 by notable black metal drummer, Frost, a musician who has performed for many tops names across Scandinavia for years, including the likes of Gehenna, Gorgoroth and Keep of Kalessin. I, on the other hand, came across 1349’s debut full-length, entitled ‘Liberation’, many years ago by chance. I had no prior knowledge of their line-up, so Frost’s inclusion played no part in my listening to this album. In fact, even if I had know, I doubt it would have made much of an impact on my decision because I’m not terribly keen on any of the aforementioned bands. 1349 inhabit a type of sound I’ve never really been too keen on either, but somehow this album works. Maybe it’s the catchiness of some of its songs or the demonised, mystical feel? Perhaps even both. Either way 1349 somehow manage to steal away a bit of my heart and keep it for themselves which is precisely the reason I find myself drawn back into this claustrophobic, uncaring world time and again, even years after I first discovered it. ‘Liberation’, I find, is a bit of an odd title for this second wave inspired album.
It doesn’t represent much of a departure from the sound that circulated around the time of the second wave, a movement which had long since died at the time of this albums release in 2003. In fact, the approach is precisely what I would expect from musicians such as Frost, one’s whose influence and inspiration is firmly rooted in the early to mid 1990’s. Therefore this album doesn’t ever come across as innovative or original, though I suppose it isn’t meant to. However, does that mean we should just settle for the end results? I don’t think so, personally. Whilst the vision behind this album is pretty much perfected, the end result is still somewhat disappointing. Yes, 1349 are adept at creating crushing atmospherics and are very well equipped with their line-up to be able to produce moments akin to that of the second wave, as shown from the very first song ‘Manifest’, but is it enough? Not really. The song writing is generally affective and well considered but there are elements which need work. It would appear that this aspect of 1349 has never truly been resolved. I’ve only heard their first two albums and those appear to be the best, going by the reviews.
It’s far too easy in this day and age to ridicule bands and label them as “clones”, so 1349 deserve some credit for avoiding this troublesome description by managing to sound fresh, to an extent, and worthwhile despite the fact that the second wave has long since departed for hell. This album is a strange one in some ways because, yes, whilst it does succeed at creating a desirable atmosphere for its type, it simultaneously manages to undermine itself by being too eager to please the old school fans. By this I mean that certain elements of the album are almost lost as an influence by the desire to create a truly crushing atmosphere built on aggression and overwhelming distortion. Given Frost’s appeal on the black metal scene, it isn’t entirely surprising that his performance on ‘Liberation’ is highlighted at every turn. On the better songs on this album, such as ‘Manifest’ and the masterful self-titled song, the drums are practically made the be-all-and-end-all of 1349’s approach. The double bass, for example, is too prominent and crisp sounding.
Some might find this rather refreshing given albums of this nature have a tendency to obscure almost all aspects bar the guitars and vocals, but I enjoy that. I love having to claw my way through the dirt and grime to find the bass and inner workings of the drums. ‘Liberation’, as an album, tends to prioritise the wrong elements for me and, yes, whilst Frost is a damned good drummer, the albums success isn’t determined by the drumming but by the riffs and how well the bass can back that up. On occasion, this archaic approach is achieved well, as on songs like ‘Liberation’ where the bass audibly bounces along and the guitars create truly mesmerising riffs but, on most occasions, the songs tend to blend together in a haze of mediocrity and an unflinching desire to stick to its guns despite the fact that it may not be the best approach. The production, which is incredibly detailed, is great. It gives much of the album a bombastic feel but isn’t afraid to embrace the claustrophobia and tormented soul of the second wave classics, like Darkthrone’s ‘Transilvanian Hunger’. Areas of the release feel razor sharp and cutthroat but others tend to blend into a blur and the middle section of the album feels lost with most of the songs going by in a forgettable whiz. Aside from the likes of ‘Manifest’, ‘Liberation’ and ‘Buried By Time and Dust’ (which happens to be a Mayhem cover), this album fails to live up its early promise.
Leave your reservations behind as to what black metal should be, and where it should be and simply head bang till your neck snaps off to 1349's best offering, Liberation. If you know anything about 1349, you know two things: Frost drums, and they're an attempt to capture the magic of the second wave of black metal. Offering a fuzzy and claustrophobic production each instrument is still highly distinguishable and powerful; a good mix for veterans and newcomers to fuzzy production.
Starting just how I'd want it to, the album explodes in a flurry of blast beats, Frost's excellent sounding kit (sounds so organic and powerful) completely devastates and the crunchy fuzz-fueled guitars tremolo pick their asses off. Each song is completely driven by the drums, no question about it, even though the production is fair to all the instruments, the guitars serve as a reason to have Frost go completely apeshit. The guitarist are adept at churning out, typical, but very good and catchy riffs. With the exception of "Satanic Propaganda" the guitars don't do anything too unusual, just churning out riffs you could see either: A. Demonaz slapping his forehead thinking "Why didn't I write that!?" or B. Demonaz thinking "Hey, didn't I write that!?" Parts like 1:27 in "Satanic Propaganda" are epic and really catchy and powerful, as well as the great riff that interlocks perfectly with the drums at 1:10 in "Legion." The guitars never really get boring, sometimes they might play something a tad uninteresting, but nothing that would make Nocturno Culto frown. Ravn's vocals, while not too diverse in terms of delivery, spew understandable lyrics in a powerful black metal manner. The vocals fit well, and being able to understand them adds to 1349's trait of being an enjoyable live act ( Ravn has awesome stage presence as well).
1349's sense of rhythm and the constantly changing drums provide for great entertainment and complement the melodies perfectly. The awesome midpace beats that end with a sharp rim shot and tear into an unbelievably fast blast beat, the little Celtic Frost groove bouts that dive into hyper speed blasts and or the blasts that careen out to a slow chug fest a'la 3:30 in "Legion ". 1349 approach each song understanding the importance of keeping things interesting, yet maintaining that repetitiveness that's so important in building and maintaining atmosphere.
And then there's the drums, ohhhhh boooy. There's so many cool things Frost does, like the section at 3:30 and that little diddy at the beginning of "Legion," that unusual, but awesomely fitting gallop in "Manifest," as well as the other gallop beat in "Riders Of The Apocalypse," that fast little workout beat at around 2minutes in "Evil Oath," and the all the showboating he does on the track "Liberation." Boasting an extremely powerful sounding and echoing kit, Frost sounds better than he ever has. There's so much personality in his playing, and while he doesn't compare to the likes of those countless death metal drum showboaters he still maintains such a personality behind the kit that makes him much more of a pleasure to listen to rather then Roddy, or Longstreth. Even in terms of technicality, big man on top, Hellhammer, who sounds like such an asshole with all his triggers, doesn't play with the same sense of power and delivery that Frost does; personality>technicality.
The ending of "Liberation" is way cool, and sets up a nice atmosphere for the supremely executed cover of Mayhem's "Buried by Time and Dust." While DMDS does have that charm, I think I would like 1349's cover more if it weren't for Attila (who reigns supreme in Mayhem land). 1349 proves their chops, and seems to play an already painfully fast song faster.
When you approach this album for what it is you'll enjoy it. It's fun, and full of good riffs and absolutely chilling (you get it? hur hur) drumming. Put down that copy of Live in Leipzig and put this on for a change (plus Frost's drumming is a lot more interesting then anything Hellhammer was doing before 1999).
Highlights: Legion, I Breathe Spears, Pitch Black, Satanic Propaganda, Legion, Liberation, and the Mayhem cover; oh, and Legion (did I mention it?).
I’ll admit to being initially interested in this band because Frost did the drum tracks. I read that tidbit in a catalog selling the self titled cd and ordered it immediately. That was a few years ago and after listening to this new cd Liberation, it should be obvious to all that 1349 is far more than just Frost’s astounding drumming. The main part of this Norwegian band is the phoenix that was Alvheim risen again. This is full throttle hysteria, mostly out of control chaos that attacks from all sides at once. The only real problem I have with the sound quality is that the instruments blend together a bit too much. The drums are nice and loud which is great, but the guitars would benefit from some more separation. Covering “The Usurper” last time out set the stage for a bonus this time which is “Buried by Time and Dust” by Mayhem. One other bonus is an H.P. Lovecraft quotation about fear.
My favorite tracks, which are numbered 11 through 20, include “Deathmarch”, a Frost contribution that is only a minute long, but a good mesmerizing bridge to the ultra fast “Pitch Black” which is also a short one. The even faster "Evil Oath” is pure chaos and intensity. Ravn has a strong voice, but little variety of delivery, in a thrash style, that works particularly well with the speed of this one. They chose the best song to name the album after and this one benefits from some slower breaks, an atmospheric ending and a longer duration. One hell of a debut full length album, or as Candlelight puts it, “Hell Awaits!”
Originally written for http://teethofthedivine.com
1349’s first studio effort, Liberation, is beyond words. There is no possible way for me to sum up the near perfection of this album but I’ll give it a shot.
The album must be listened to all the way through upon first listen. There is no other way to fully experience the awesome power of 1349. From the opening jackhammer of Manifest to the closing cover of Mayhem’s Buried by Time and Dust, 1349 are unrelenting. They never slow down, they never stop. They are a black metal force to be reckoned with. This is the album that no only hails the arrival of the future kings of black metal, it defines the sound and direction black metal will eventually head towards. Mark my words, dear reader: black metal will return to its furious and vicious roots and stray away from symphonic mainstream posers like Cradle of Filth and Dimmu Borgir and 1349 will stand proudly at the top of the heap as reigning kings of black metal.
Well now that that’s all done with, on to the review. Let’s start with the vocals shall we. This is Ravn’s best vocal performance throughout 1349’s three full length studio albums. On Beyond the Apocalypse and Hellfire, he sounds more harsh than grim. On Liberation he is as grim as he’s ever been while still being as harsh as ever. He reminds me of Nocturno Culto on the first few Darkthrone albums. All in all, this is one of the best vocal performances I have heard in “modern” black metal. Very unsettling.
The guitars are amazing; a constant wall of buzzing noise that never lets up. If you listen through the wall of sound you can hear some really interesting and intense riffs. This CD creates a bulldozer of noise with fantastic guitar work underneath. The riffs are incredibly brutal and unrelenting, but at the same time they create an ominous atmosphere with some very wicked and evil overtones. Don’t expect much in the way of solos though.
The bass is… well the bass is there. It’s mostly inaudible. Its main purpose is to add a deeper, heavier overall sound underneath the treble-boosted guitars. If you listen, you can make it out though, and Seidmann does a good job of keeping up with Archaon and Tjalve’s guitars.
Now we get to the drums. One of the highlights to the album, the drums are incredibly intense and accurate. Frost (of Satyricon fame) is, for my money, the best drummer in heavy metal. If you don’t believe me, just pick any song on this album. Most of the drums are blast beats, but Frost does offer some interesting fills here and there. I am astonished by his accuracy. The man’s a fucking human metronome! I didn’t know a person could be so fast, yet be perfectly in time throughout the entire album. Listen to the end of I Breathe Spears. You’ll understand.
This is a black metal album, so no review would be complete without a discussion of the lyrics. They are pretty standard for black metal. Blasphemy, anti-Christian sentiments, and individualism run rampant. The lyrics seem more empowering and creative than a lot of other low-tier, generic black metal, and they fit the music very well, so I can’t complain.
In conclusion, 1349’s Liberation is the place to start if you’re interested in 1349 or black metal in general. If you’re already a fan, it’s time to buy this album and hear the future of the genre for yourself. It doesn’t disappoint.
I actually really liked this album...a lot. It was atmospheric at times, plain brutal at others...maybe not the particular type of metal that I am used to, such as the indie Amesoeurs, but there are definitely some finer points to make note of. If nothing else, this band truly sounds like the plague!
Pitch Black was one of the most difficult songs for me to listen to first on the album because it was just so static and all you can feel is the slight pulsing of the drums and the shrieks sound mostly like they are being listened to from the outside. The distortion and raw recording drown out everything else that may have been good about this song. Yes, you could call this grim, I suppose....but one can't ignore the fact that it isn't something we've all heard before.
I think that it was the song Manifest that really pulled me into the mood of Liberation. It starts out slow and builds up to some seriously fast guitar riffs and very industrial-like drum beats. The best part is when the speed breaks up with a sultry sounding guitar interlude, if you will. Then it's back to the screaming, heavy, layered ensemble. 2/3 of the song, the guitar changes melody and then breaks down yet again, changing the ambiance.
Satanic Propaganda has a hypnotic begining, reminding me sort of Dimmu Borgir's Sorgens Kammer Del II. Not a bad song...I will say that it’s probably easier listening than the rest with the echoed vocals and the variations in drum beats, something not too popular on the other songs. The main melody isn’t bad, but it also seems less thought-out than I would think 1349 is capable of.
Legion is also another memorable track; it gets down to business, has a very traditional metal beat, the guitars are heavy and powerful but I could definitely use this as a soundtrack while I pillage some villages…am I the only person who sees the Viking metal potential of this song?
Evil Oath reminds me of something from the noise genre…fast, intense, loud, kind of random. Makes me want to seriously mess some things up. The lyrics are death-y in some parts. Not bad.
I also want to note that their Mayhem cover isn’t bad. I guess my main gripe about this album is that I think that the band is very talented, yet doesn’t really feel like using their time to come up with the most quality of songs that I know they could do if they set their mind to it. The songs overall sound like a jam session rather than a professional recording. I am thinking that pretty much everyone else agrees with this statement, and despite black metallers usually craving the unrefined, mixed sound, I think that 1349 takes it to the next level. The brutality is not matched by artistry 50 to 50 but I do think that the band can pull itself up, even if it’s not an issue of keeping fans or not.
Having a member of a relatively well known band amongst your ranks is never a bad idea to garner that extra burst of promotion and, in 1349’s case, boasting Satyricon sticksman Frost in the fold undoubtedly led to immediate interest and curiosity amongst the Black Metal hordes. After releasing a highly acclaimed underground self-titled EP in 2001, the band signed to the reputable Candlelight Records for the release of this, their first full-length effort. Yet, with major expectations riding on the band from the entire scene, this was going to be no effortless accomplishment.
The preface to opening track “Manifest” sounds not unlike the scraping and grinding of heavy machinery and is quickly followed by Frost’s pummelling blast beats and the menacing hiss of feedback from guitarists Archaon and Tjalve before bursting forth in a Black Metal frenzy. The track continually builds up to its fantastic climatic ending and then rapidly speeds through the aggressive “I Breathe Spears” and the rather militaristic sounding “Riders Of The Apocalypse”. After a brief instrumental in the drum-orientated “Deathmarch”, the chaotic psychosis continues with “Pitch Black”, probably the vocal highlight of the entire album as Ravn screams convincing warnings to the listener about visions of darker times and the horrific future that awaits humanity.
The major noticeable characteristic of this recording is the utterly spiteful and tormented environment created via an extremely harsh and raw production. However, the sound of the album is not particularly hindered and all of the instruments are still audible, despite Frost’s drums having less than their fair share of the overall mix at times. This grim and frenzied approach to Black Metal is not entirely original or unique of course, but the passion and angst that seems to be felt throughout the ten songs present on this album help to make up for a lack of extreme ingenuity. However, there are some observable weaknesses, mainly towards the conclusion. Admittedly, the acoustic passages in “Satanic Propaganda” sound rather frail in comparison to some of the more severe sounding passages and the closing cover of Mayhem’s “Buried By Time And Dust”, although performed with clinical excellence and precision, is a somewhat dubious and apprehensive way to end their own debut album.
Although 1349 are an obviously competent Black Metal force, they will have to remain more consistent and confident on future releases if they are to become true genre leaders. And, with the fantastic talent present in the line up, such a challenge should be easily met.
Originally written for http://www.blastwave.co.uk
So this is the savior of Norwegian Black metal. That is what much of the scene has been saying. However this album is nothing more than some good ideas poorly executed.
This album is meant to be violent, cold black metal. The violent part is there but the coldness is not. This just fails miserably in the atmosphere department. The mixing is the biggest turd on this album. The raw production is not done right at all. It sounds like poor artificial static is just added to the already completed album. The tone of the instruments sound like static is not meant to be used making it sound all fake at times. Everything sounds so weak as if I am listening to mp3s of 32bitrate.
Frost pounds the snare drum into oblivion on this album. Ok Frost you can play the drums damn fast but that does not make a good album. The snare drum is to forward in the mix and often drowns out what is left to be heard through the shitty static. Drums should not be to forward in the mix and they should never be way more forward than the guitars.
Ok so the guitar riffs are very violent and very well played for the most part. The guitarists are very skilled but to bad their skills are virtuously useless with the shit production. The guitar riffs are weak as hell due to the shit production. The thrashy riffs on Riders Of The Apocalypse are fucking cool and this is by far the best song on the album and could be fucking awesome if the band re-recorded it with a better production. Unfortunately this is the only memorable song on the album. Satanic Propaganda also has some nice ideas going for it but these are only flashes.
The vocals are a bit weak and sound slightly separate of the music which is one of the biggest failures of many black metal bands. They also get really dull quickly as I do not feel the hatred that Ravn is attempting to express through his voice here. It would have been nice if he mixed it up a bit to and didn’t sing in the same slightly raspy/growly tone of voice the whole way through the album.
I wish I could say more about this album but I cannot as most of the songs sound the same and wash right past my ears. If the band manages to throw away their fischer price tape recorder and record better than 32bitrate then they could well produce some great black metal. I have heard one song from Hellfire on a sampler cd and found it pretty decent so maybe 1349 finally managed to get there shit together.
I have arrived at an equitable deduction regarding black metal albums that are meager in production value and virtually intolerable to those whom are not already established fans of the kind. Now, before you get your panties all up in a bunch and settle on crucifying this critic, allow me to enlighten thee. I’ve nothing against the arrangements or musicianship and mean absolutely no disregard towards the scene or its originators, it’s merely a matter of paper-thin sound quality, or in most cases, lack there of. Here’s my estimation of the whole affair…
Either a) the band deliberately records and mixes a barely audible mass of disarray in aspirations of being credited as "primitive" or "primal" and/or, b) the label has very little faith in said artist and their capabilities and grants them a lesser budget, smacks ‘em on the ass and sends them on their merry old way. Alas, this is commonplace in the sphere of the black metal trade and sadly enough, the same could be said pertaining to the album at hand.
Rising from the ashes of ALVHEIM in 1997, Norway’s 1349 finally make their full-length debut in 2003 with "Liberation", a stripped down, cold as fuck, black metal excursion featuring SATYRICON’s Frost delivering a hellacious drum attack throughout the ten icy tracks. Despite my previous argument, this disc isn’t half bad. Scorching slabs of odium induced assault, range from good to great, boasting tormented shrieks, buzz-saw guitar execution, and all around malevolent pandemonium.
For those deprived fiends craving a misanthropic Norwegian necro-storm, "Liberation" will whet your bloodthirsty appetite with such focal onslaughts as "Legion", "Riders Of The Apocalypse", the title track with its eerie interlude, and 1349's own adaptation of MAYHEM's "Buried By Time And Dust".
The bottom line is this... keep an open heart and don't let the thrift store production sway you from seeing the big picture. Don't resist it! Your soul demands "Liberation".
- Harley Carlson
I may not know too much about what makes black metal good (at least as far as what constitutes "tr00 kvlt"), but I know what I like. And I like this album a whole hell of a lot! This is one of the most vicious things to come down the pike in some time, for my ears, and I could very well describe it as a "modern primitive" album in that while they very much pay tribute to the old school (the overall feel of the album and the ultra-raw sushi production), they also have a level of playing ability higher than the old school bands that shows a nod to the newer bands out there. Especially the drumming--YIKES!!! If I didn't know any better, given the drum sound, I'd swear it was a drum machine stuck on overload. Frost truly plays his ass off on this album, rivaling and even sometimes obliterating Pete Sandoval's greatest moments (like the intro to "Blood On My Hands" on "Covenant") with the intensity of his blasting and furious double bass. And that guitar sound is pure evil with its fuzzy snarl dominating everything. Rafn's vocals are totally appropriate for the music, staying mostly in a midrange snarl, but every so often he peels paint with his shrieks. And I really like how they mix it up, too, with faster thrash parts giving way to punishing mid tempos and the aforementioned hyper blast mania. Can't wait to hear the next one!