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A much more experimental, and thus, better 1349 - 78%

immortalshadow666, February 21st, 2011

After a massive workload of three albums in as many years, it was a comparatively long period of time between albums for 1349. The band went away and whatever happened in that time, something happened within the psyche of the band which appears to have softened them up a bit, because it shows in this album – and the outcome is fucking brilliant.

‘Invocation’, the introduction to the album is quite peculiar. A long scream leads into an extended period of ambience, for around three minutes before the emergency of some quite sombre, down-tempo black metal – all within one six-minute track. This form of black metal however, is not only fantastic, but leaves the listener wondering whether it is actually the same band that released the intense yet fanatically boring ‘Hellfire’.

The album continues into ‘Serpentine Sibilance’ with much more of a slow black metal style. It’s by now blatantly clear that the band has significantly changed their musical direction, at least for this album. The production isn’t as good in some respects – especially the drums – but this works in the albums favour. The drums feel a lot warmer and have a much more human aspect to them, rather than being too digital or computerised. Whilst the guitars are clearer and the bass is more audible, the style of riffs is so different that you won’t help but be sucked in to find out what this new musical direction is all about.

One thing that really irked me about the previous record was the vocals – but this is no longer the case. They stand out much more over the music and rather than sounding like a mindless noisy other instrument, the vocals add another, better dimension to this new musical style. They’re not too different to a mainstream style, yet they’re somehow so much better. The tone and pitch work in conjunction with the music better and impress rather than frustrate.

There really is quite a lot of dark ambient and non-metal music on here, and it works in fantastic conjunction with the metal parts. ‘Horns’, which is an all-ambient track, invokes a brilliant atmosphere and although its position in the album being so early is strange, the track itself is spectacularly dark and evil, and its only problem is that it isn’t long enough. ‘Misanthropy’ is a similarly dark and sombre, yet interesting piece – consisting solely of a piano in the distance which fades into some utterly frightening ambience and distorted guitar chords. This track too, shows another different side to the band – that they are not afraid to try new things and have a fresh side to the music.

The slower tempo of the album, rather than being boring, really builds an excellent atmosphere, and with so much variation, the listener is bound to keep enjoying the atmosphere and sheer unpredictability of what’s on here. Tracks like ‘Uncreation’ and ‘At the Gate’ are slow almost the entire way through and build up a brilliant and almost Burzum-like ambience, whereas tracks like ‘Serpentine Sibilance’ build up similarly but then suddenly delve into the chaotically fast style of the older albums. When this happens, the switches are made effortlessly and without much disruption to the flow of the album.

‘Revelations of the Black Flame’ is an amazing black metal effort. The production has so much more heart and soul, and the result is that it has a much more pleasant feel to it. It feels like a true black metal album, rather than a mindless clone product of all their predecessors. With ‘Hellfire’ it just felt like the band were showing off, and the whole vibe of the album came off as completely self indulgent, whereas this album feels much more like they wanted to reconnect with their fans. Even the faster parts and guitar solos are significantly more listenable than this time around.

Whereas sitting through ‘Hellfire’ was an unbelievable chore and I found myself put almost to sleep by the end, listening to ‘Revelations of the Black Flame’ was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. More length in the ambient tracks would have given this album a higher rating, as would a little bit of a depressive aspect to the guitar riffs, like the ones found in ‘Solitude’. Other than this, I’m now very interested in what this band will release in the future. I definitely recommend this album if you’re on the lookout for something different to the mainstream black metal scene. Great work, 1349.

Presented to you by Tom G Warrior - 60%

nibblemark, August 25th, 2010

Here we have 1349's forbidden foray into something... umm... different. Forbidden because black metal fans know what they like, know why they like it and loathe everything else. We often have tunnel vision (tunnel hearing?) when it comes to our favourite artists, because we become attached to the feelings and sentiment that their music evokes in us. Naturally we come to expect that very same emotional fix with each new release. So when a band decides to stray off their pre-beaten path, we can't help but feel let down. We all know that feeling, don't we? I always think of Darkthrone as the cliched example of this, who after numerous radical changes in musical style and expression, still have many fans who wish they were the very same band they were two decades ago, all due to the strong emotional attachment people still have with their early work. Well, time passes. Things change. Thems the breaks.

Many fans refer to Revelations of the Black Flame as 1349's experiment that failed. Dismally, according to some. This judgment is understandable to anyone familiar with the band's previous work, but somewhat unfair if this record is taken on its own merit. I see this not as a 1349 album, but as a collaborative side project with Thomas Gabriel Warrior Fischer, which yielded mixed results, from high quality art to utter crap.

Think about it for a moment... compare this record to all past 1349 material, then compare it to Monotheist and Eparistera Daimones. See? Although the liners say this was co-mixed by Fischer, it should also say the entire record was inspired and driven by him, maybe even dominated by him. His presence, his ego and his abyssmal emotional spiral are all so prevalent you can practically smell the man's buttcrack through your speakers. This is minimalist, avant-garde, necro-depresso, industri-black death-doom. Feel free to throw in some hyphenated bullshit descriptions of your own.

You know that feeling you get, when you no longer care to move any part of your body because the entire universe has just come to an end for all eternity. That kind of feeling. Although this experience can be profound, interesting and even somehow cleansing, a whole disc worth of such material can be too much to take in one dose, especially for those of us who are not self absorbed and totally fucking insane like Mr Fischer. But if you forget about 1349 as you know them, give this record a chance and you may find interesting things here, just as you will with Fischer's other recent work.

I won't lie to you. A lot of material here is nothing but self-indulgent, go-nowhere drivel and drudgery that is sometimes so mind numbingly dull that you want to shit your pants just to have something else to do. But some other bits and pieces are more interesting, if you appreciate them in their context. I hesitate to name any at this point, for two good reasons: I am still in the process of finding them myself, not an easy task, but most of all, because it really is up to you, the individual listener, to find the themes on this record that elicit an emotional response. Take the time to find parts you like, listen to them on a cloudy day, while looking out an open window over unpopulated scenery, whatever, something like that, you get the idea.

Brace yourselves for the pratfall - 20%

doomknocker, April 1st, 2010

I'd had a bit of apprehension about the meteoric rise of 1349 in recent years. If I remember my history correctly, these guys’ve been blasting away since the heydays of black metal’s second wave to little acclaim, and it seems that, as the millennium dawned, their adding the incomparable Frost to their drum set gave them the attention so lacking when black metal was large and in charge. If that would be the case, then a sad state of affairs the music world has gotten to, but nowadays that’s neither here nor there, as 1349 is here to stay, and as the years would pass my cynicism has numbed me to the point where I can appreciate the group getting a second chance ala EXODUS and TESTAMENT, where talent and skill could finally be appreciated. And with this new album I’ll be able to know for sure…do these guys have what it takes to continue their blasphemous rumbling?

If this album is any indication, they’ve hit a serious roadblock.

While elements of good old-fashioned Nordic devilry is present in the song-writing, and an apparent ability to evoke a dreary, frightening hell by way of diabolical ambience is heard, the overall product of their latest work doesn’t live up to the inundation of praise the group has gotten in the years since the drum kit got all kinds of frosty. Instead of blisteringly hateful and violent black metal art, we get plodding, modernized, and overtly simplistic drudgery the likes of which Satyr post-2000 pops boner after boner over, with only minor occasions of blast-beat frenzies, though too few and far between to enjoy thoroughly. This musical scheme of things leaves a lot to be desired for anyone wanting blinding violence with their Norwegian blasphemy, and the chunky guitar riffs, soullessly robotic growls, and waste-of-talent percussive “1, 2” rock beats 1349 employs really doesn’t, in any way, bring back flashbacks of Fantoft succumbing to the flames. Simply put, there isn’t really anything on this disc that tickles this listener’s fancy, where the likes of the confusing mind-fuck of “Invocation“, the repetitive drawlings of “Maggot Fetus…Teeth like Thorns”, and the mediocre doldrums of “Uncreation” only serve up irritation.

So in the end this album really disappointed me. For all the clamoring and torch-bearing many in the underground have undertaken in the name of 1349 you’d think these guys would have the tenacity to do them justice. I guess not.

The Same, But Different - 60%

promethian_death, February 16th, 2010

From the moment you hear the anguishing screams of the opening track, “Invocation,” you realize that there is something entirely different about 1349’s Revelations of the Black Flame. And if you sit down and compare it to their previous full-length offering Hellfire, you will defiantly hear the difference. But if you are looking for a Hellfire II, stop reading this review right now, look at one of the other nine new reviews Metal Psalter is offering and forget about this album. You’re going to be disappointed. But if you want something that is definitely 1349 (or just some decent, well-made Black Metal), but totally different at the same time: buy this album.

One of the first things I noticed about 1349 is how clear the vocals are, something which piqued my interest when I initially stumbled across the band several years ago. Ravn’s voice is crisp and deep, somewhat different from most vocalists in the style. While he still has that growling aspect to his voice, he does not seem to rely on it like a majority of the genre tends to do. Discarding the crutch of the “demonic screams” and seeking his own unique vocals. This is pretty much consistent throughout the album and lends to the quality of the band’s style.

Another thing that I have noticed, at least with Revelations of the Black Flame, is that the band’s drums are at a much slower tempo from their contemporaries. A plus for the band in a field that is at times over saturated with blast beats and machine gun rata-tat-tat drumming, their beat master, Frost (also of Satyricon), doing an excellent job at his job.

What the album lacks in aggression, it make up for in cold, hard emotion (or lack there of), which helps in the maintained themes the band writes about. The one real complaint that I have is that the album starts out very, very strong and then seems to just peter out towards the end, seemingly dying a slow painful death with the willfully slow track “At the Gate.” Revelations of the Black Flame would be a good album to listen to on a lazy day where you have nothing to do but read a good book. Everyone needs albums like that in their collection.

While 1349 are excellent musicians, and hail from the Norwegian black metal scene, Revelations of the Black Flame isn’t as strong as their previous offerings, but I still find it listenable and something that would be well received by die-hard fans. While the album’s pace is much slower, and more intense (with the exception of the track “Maggot Fetus… Teeth like Thorns,” the one track on the album which falls under the more traditional black metal trappings of fast guitars and blasting beats from the rhythm section). The slower pace of Revelations makes it stand out from the crowd. The one flaw being that it almost deviates too much from the black metal “norm,” but this might also, after time, prove to be a boon for the album, hopefully drawing in more fans to the band’s legions.

by Kesh Butler, contributor from Metal Psalter Webzine
http://www.metalpsalter.com

Orginal Article:
http://www.metalpsalter.com/review_1349_revelations_of_the_black_flame.html

Guys, have we phoned in that new album yet? - 30%

autothrall, November 25th, 2009

After releasing three murderous rampages back to back from 2003-2005, 1349 wisely waited a few years before penning their next opus, while they toured and built up their following. It comes as a great surprise to me, then, that Revelations of the Black Flame is such a bore of an album. It's a clear departure from the no frills razor edged chaos battery of previous efforts, a drab and experimental take on the discordant Norse black that they formerly championed.

I'm not at all opposed to a band trying something different, in fact I have often found that some of the best work comes from such risks. This is not one of those cases. Even after months apart from the album, I come back to listen and find myself bored out of my skull. Occasionally, the band channels the angry hornets' nest of black metal that they previously dominated, as in the blast breaks of "Serpentine Sibilance" or "Maggot Fetus...Teeth Like Thorns", but it feels as if the band phoned the material in. Some of the better material here occurs when the band departs almost completely from their roots. The creepy acoustics of "Uncreation" work well until the boring metal riffs enter the picture, and "Misanthropy" is decent dark ambient, with churning chords in the distance to create an ominous effect.

I'm not sure what went wrong here, or if anything went wrong...it was likely intentional. Not only are the songs weak, but the album sounds mediocre. I'm all about following a band as they embrace a new direction, but I still demand some decent music. Revelations of the Black Flame has not provided me with this. One of the biggest disappointments of the year.

-autothrall
http://www.fromthedustreturned.com

Unfortunate Failure - 35%

Artemus_Cain, October 28th, 2009

1349 more or less saved black metal. They made it interesting when most mainstream metal critics were prepared to call the genre dead. From the debut “Liberation” to the amazing “Hellfire” they’ve maintained a steady sound: a fierce black sound owing with a focus on stellar musicianship, which is a rarity for black metal.

I have no idea what inspired such a radical change in 1349’s sound. Maybe they took Celtic Frost’s break-up way to badly. Maybe the loss of guitarist Tjalve broke everyone else’s spirit. Maybe they didn’t want to be pigeon holed—I don’t fuckin’ know. The point is 1349 sound almost nothing like they used to. A bold move, but is it a good one? Well, no not really.

Guitarist Archeron and Vocalist Ravn have stated in reviews that this album want to take the listener on a journey into Hell, but even listening in that mindset they don't really get there.

Some tracks are dead on:

The kickstarter “Invocation” does its job by pulling us right past the gates so hard, that we shatter the bars. The purely tormented screaming of our new Hellmate sends chills up the spine. Instead of making us envision Hell as a blazing place of speedy flames, the riffs and mood 1349 utilize in this song capture a feeling of hopelessness that eternal servitude and torment under the Horned One would strike up.

“Uncreation” starts with some very good blackened-doomy riffs that are truly terrifying. There are subtle moans and various other sounds in the background at one point that add much to the foreboding feel. This track, I feel, is a perfect summary of this albums goal. A minute until the end, however, a guitar solo comes out of nowhere and kills the mood somewhat. It’s as if I’m being led to the pit of filth by a foreboding demonic creature and right at the entrance, he drags me to the side to show me his ballin’ yo-yo techniques. Guitar solos are not bad at all, but they need to be put in only if they properly compliment the song.

“Misanthropy” starts as a somber piano tune that fades into a doomy guitar exercise that helps add to the overall oppressive hopelessness that this album exhumes.

“Solitude” is a very depressing organ laden piece with a darkly beautiful clean guitar compliment that captures its name perfectly. A feeling of soul crushing defeat and sorrow comes over me when I listen to this.

Then there are the lackluster bits:

The militaristic march of “Serpentine Sibilance” made me see myself as forced to enlist in The Fallen One’s army and prepare an assault on the world above. Honestly though, two minutes as a Hellspawn foot soldier got kinda boring, before sort of aimlessly going to a lackluster psudeo-ambient riff for about a minute before returning me to the battle seemingly out of nowhere. Very inconsistent.

“At The Gate…” is the closer and really culminates the theme of oppressing sorrow and despair. It just trudges along and isn’t really a song, but more of an extended and heavier outro track.

And then what probably shouldn’t have been:

The bizarrely titled “Maggot Fetus... Teeth Like Thorns” is possibly the only song to follow the old tried and true black metal formula and reminds me of drummer Faust’s other band Satyricon when they decide to not suck. It’s fast and powerful and harkens back to 1349’s previous albums, however, it clashes with the overall theme and mood the album tries to put forth. Even though it’s not a bad track, it should’ve been left out.

Perhaps following in Celtic Frost’s example of bizarre choices for covers, up next is Pink Floyd’s “Set Controls for the Heart of the Sun.” Being unfamiliar with the original (and Pink Floyd in general) I cannot compare the two, but it does have an atmosphere of coldness, darkness, and isolation. Just of a more spacey feel, which again clashes with the theme of Hell. Black Metal in Space! Yeah… no…

“Horns.” Is a very foreboding echo chamber like track that paints a dark picture, but it doesn't really go anywhere.

The Interludes, even the good ones, don’t really say much, but I can’t help shake the fact that they provide a key element to the record. I do feel, though, that all of these interludes could’ve had their length cut and have been meshed with the actual songs though, and they would still get their message across.

So, at the end of the day, we have an album that, unfortunately, fails. The times it achieves its purported goal of dragging listeners into Hell are broken up with bad ideas and unfocused mess. This is probably going to go down as 1349’s “Unspoken King” or, more appropriately, “Cold Lake.” Which is too bad, because with more time and a lot more focus, I think Archeron and friends could’ve pulled it off.

interesting new direction... - 65%

gk, September 20th, 2009

1349 built their reputation in the black metal world with an uncompromising blast beat fuelled hyper charged style that won them a huge fan base and a reputation for being one of the most brutal in your face black metal bands out there. This style also came with its fair share of detractors but overall right up to 2005s Hellfire, 1349 seemed unstoppable and the band had built up a momentum that threatened a true blue classic release.

So 2009 sees the band release its fourth album Revelations of the Black Flame and that fan base is in for a bit of a surprise. This new album sees the band adopting a very different tactic. The songs are slowed down and the relentless speed has been replaced by a sludgy, dirty feel. Right from the tortured opening screams of Invocation you know that this is a band trying something completely new. The songs flow into one another and the band seem more intent on creating a thick black immersive atmosphere than hell for leather riffing and blackened thrash. In fact it’s not till Maggot Fetus… Teeth like Horns that the band finally injects some speed into the proceedings. It’s still not very similar to what they’ve done before but it does come as a welcome change from the doomy atmospheric black metal of the first three songs. Uncreation for me is the highlight of the album with its slow burning black metal approach with a subtle touch of melody while being completely drenched in what can only be called some seriously filthy distortion. There’s a cover of Floyd’s Set the Controls to the Heart of the Sun which feels a bit forced and incomplete but the album also ends strongly with the ambient Solitude which moves effortlessly into album closer At the Gates… which again plays up the ambient atmosphere with its doomy, swirling guitars.

1349 is a band that is definitely trying out a few new things on Revelations… Not all of it works and more often than not the sludgy black metal attack becomes background noise and the songs tend to get lost with little to differentiate from one another. I’m not really sure what the band was going for here and while there is some good stuff on the album, a lot of it feels forced. This is an interesting new direction for the band and maybe something that would appeal to the sludge/ stoner/ doom crowd more than the bands black metal fan base but overall Revelations of the Black Flame is far from the masterpiece I was expecting.

Originally written for http://www.kvltsite.com

1349 - Revelations of the Black Flame - 55%

ThrashManiacAYD, August 27th, 2009

From experiences with 1349's previous album "Hellfire", I was expecting "Revelations Of The Black Flame" to be another blast from hell, fired across the galaxy at 1000mph, but instead I have the pleasure of closing the triumvirate with a third album of atmospheric black metal, by far my preference over said albums of incessant speed and brutality. Having always featured the clichéd corpsepaint and spikes look, 1349 hone the BM look to the tee and so the hyperblast was expected, but with this change to doomier territories all seems set to change. All except the corpsepaint though I read (maybe next time).

The contradiction between "Hellfire" and "Revelations..." is quite spectacular. Where once the blastbeat of Frost (he of Satyricon) reigned supreme and spiked riffs rained down from the heavens (or rose up from hell?), all that is a distant memory now that the legendary Tom G. Warrior has manned the mixing desk as the influence of Celtic Frost's finale, the slow dirge that was "Monotheist", and the industrial element of Satyricon also, are in charge here. But even that doesn't tell the full story - there are a couple of occasions like in "Invocation" and "Serpentine Sibilance" where it sounds as if all hell is about to break loose, but for whatever reason 1349 sound almost afraid of doing so. A God of extreme metal he may be but has Mr. Warrior influenced these Norwegians that much?

Even a cursory listen of "Revelations" will reveal that there is more time spent in the world of dank, dark ambient than time spent listening to 'riffs'. "Horns", "Solitude", "At The Gate...", "Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun" (an interesting Pink Floyd cover) and "Uncreation" all roughly follow such a template, where Ravn's Satyr-like croak may oft be conspicuous by it's absence but not half as much as any biting guitars or Frost's universally regarded drumming prowess. In the rare instances of more standard templates ("Maggot Fetus... Teeth Like Thorns") the pace and feel is good and the moment enjoyable, even if the riffs are a touch lost in the mix behind the vocals and drums. But be fooled not, I am astounded to be talking about such rare instances of a release by 1349 of all bands because this is followed by a long piano-led mourn, known here as "Misanthropy" which dies, like so many other songs, but it seems to get going.

Before I tie it all up, one important question must be answered: do all these changes work? Fearing that future listens and greater time could make me regret this I am still inclined to say that it doesn't. For most people. As a doom fanatic and with an interest in bands willing to deviate from a standard template, "Revelations..." is an album I can and will quite enjoy as I've long known the best black metal is not served too fast for human consumption, and as such the slow monotonous pace absorbs me. However, I don't expect most to have the patience for an entire album of tracks that would have previously acted as buffers on 1349 albums, and that most likely album no.5 will see 1349 pick things up again. A true experiment that will undoubtedly be divisive in the black metal fraternity.

Originally written for Rockfreaks.net.

Could Have Much Been More - 70%

Five_Nails, August 9th, 2009

One of the coldest and darkest bands of Norway’s black metal scene, 1349’s latest album, “Revelations of the Black Flame” is a good album for a black metal fix, but the slow pace of many of the songs and too many ambient scene setting songs makes this album much weaker than it could have been.

Beginning with “Invocation”, a weird horrified screaming is heard until a dark cold ambient noise comes to the fore that eventually changes to the first song. Kicking in very fast, eventually the song slows down to a drone of guitars with powerful heavy drumming from Satyricon’s Frost. The vocals come through very well over the top of all this with a low yell that sometimes breaks into a wild screech.

The very catchy “Serpentine Sibilance” begins with another very slow drone of guitars and drums as though a war march while two voices simultaneously do vocals. The blackened ambiance of the song comes through perfectly as the song continues with Frost again showing off his exploding double bass kicking. This song has more the dark ambiance of a death metal chug rather than a cold fast black metal song. There is very little snare drumming and the guitars stay at a very slow pace throughout most of the song. The song finally blasts into a normal black metal grind at 3:25 while all instruments explode into a torrent of notes that results in a large amount of drum blending that sends the guitars to the back of the song but keeps the vocals right on top.

“Horns” is a completely ambient sound that proficiently sets the forbidden tone of the music. Though it goes on for a long time, it is worth a listen or two, but there really isn’t much more content than just a few ambient sounds.

“Maggot Fetus” begins with a very classic black metal riff reminiscent of early Venom’s “Countess Bathory” or “Bloodlust” with Frost drumming rapidly in the background bringing in some intense double bass blast fills here and there. The song, other than the intense drumming sounds like an early black metal song more than a modern Norwegian black metal song. The drums continue to blend a good amount, but they are the only instrument going at any quick pace until the solo at 1:56. Everything else drones on at a slow pace including the lyrics. As the drums take center stage creating a powerhouse of heavy metal added to the rest of the band. It is obvious that Frost is the most talented part of the band as his drumming is the fastest and coldest addition to the music and the rest of the band seem to just back off and let him do his own thing. I’m not going to try and suggest they create a super band, but 1349 could definitely do with some more unique guitar work and less stale droning riffing.

“Misanthropy” is in the same vein as “Horns”, completely ambient and really doesn’t do much for the black metal feel of the band so much as the B movie feel of the album. It really doesn’t have much going for it and is really a one-listen song.

“Uncreation” is another dark droning song with a good double bass and guitar chug combination at around 1:33 that doesn’t blend at all. This is the kind of elaboration I was looking for earlier with “Maggot Fetus” and 1349 delivers on the slower but still as powerful black metal ambiance and music. There is an amazing solo and freezing drum combination later in the song that breaks up the continuing monotony as well as closes out the song that definitely gives the song full marks because of it, but there are a few other places where more could have been put into the song.

“Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun” begins with a slow set of bass kicking and riffing. Soon, though an extremely fast set of double bass kicking comes in quietly but soon ends. The double bass comes in again as some different riffing is used later in the song, but for the most part this song sounds like 1349’s response to Black Sabbath’s “Planet Caravan” with such quiet music, so many synthesized sounds, and whispered lyrics. There seems to be a considerable amount of science fiction influence in this song, or drugs, as it continues with its very quiet and desolate atmosphere, as though 1349 is playing in the center of miles of nothingness and the listener is far, far away from the band.

“Solitude” is another ambient track. By this point in the album, there have been too many ambient tracks and too few actual black metal tracks. I understand that 1349 was going for a feeling here, but the feeling is lost when even the best of the tracks still seem like demos and the tracks are cold, dark, and slow enough to create an ambiance of their own. It seems to me that the band has lost some of their gusto going into this album, and as the album goes on, the gust keeps falling away.

The final song of the album, “At the Gate” finally starts at 1:08 but is another pretty much ambient track to round out the album. 1349 has given up by this track and though it again creates a good ambient sound, it is not the grim black metal that I was looking for when I picked up this album.

After reading the reviews for this album, I really wanted to go against the grain and like it, but I’m pretty disappointed with this attempt as 1349 has become another black metal band that has lost what made them a great band. Seeing them live last year was one of my favorite black metal live experiences as they played with a group of death metal bands and brought a very unique experience to the fore, but that was before they release this album which, at the end of the day sucks compared to their earlier stuff. Luckily the live album added to the release makes this album not totally flop, but it is not enough as their new material is more dark ambient than intense black metal.

1349 - Revelations of the Black Flame - 65%

ravenhearted, July 7th, 2009

So here it is, the most controversial Black Metal release of 2009. The latest effort from the Norwegian powerhouse 1349 is sure to turn many heads, but not for the reasons you might think. Like CRYPTOPSY's "The Unspoken King" did last year, "Revelations Of The Black Flame" sees 1349 experimenting with new sounds and directions. And just like CRYPTOPSY, 1349 is going to feel that there are few things the Metal-scene is less open to than drastic changes and screwing around with tested formulas.

For "Revelations Of The Black Flame", 1349 got help from their good friend and experimentalist fellow Tom G. Warrior. It's not known to what degree his involvement influenced the band's new and remarkably darker direction, but people expecting a sequel to "Hellfire" will be sorely disappointed. The no-nonsense speed and brutality that the band has made their trademark is almost completely dissolved, and instead we get mid-tempo Black Metal and Dark Ambient interludes. I'll go as far as saying that it's completely understandable that this album has long-time fans tearing their hair out, but how well does it stand on its own.

Starting out with a agonized scream that would not feel out of place on a STALAGGH-release, "Invocation" marks the beginning of a painful and dark journey through the depths of hell. What follows is a strange mix of modern Black Metal, nightmarish Dark Ambient that sounds almost David Lynchian in its unsettling subtlety, and a few touches of their old brutal sound. Since the Ambient parts take up a considerably large portion of the album's running-time, some people have accused the band of resorting to using filler material. On this point I would beg to differ, since these interludes are both darker and more chilling than anything the band has recorded before. The Black Metal-portion of "Revelations..." are actually the least interesting parts, but while "Maggot Fetus... Teeth Like Thorns" isn't too far from their roots, "Uncreation" stands as the finest track of their career. The album rounds off with "At The Gate...", which sounds like a Doom Metal band going overboard with vocal-effects and droning samples, channeling bands like SUNN O))). A strange mash-up indeed.

The numerous twists and oddities on "Revelations Of The Black Flame" are enough to put off most old-time fans, and I doubt 1349 thought they'd get away without controversy when covering a PINK FLOYD-track. One can question whether this album should have been released under another name than 1349, but I admire their decision to break away from their old formula. With that being said, "Revelations..." is not exactly a avant-garde or experimental masterpiece. The nightmare-ambiance has been pulled off many times before, and the quite fragmented nature of the album gives off the feeling of being a somewhat unfinished experiment. Time will tell if this was a one-off quirky project, or if it marks the transition into a wholly different 1349. No matter how much the fans will miss the cacophony that is "Hellfire", this band has demonstrated that they bow to no-one, even if they might should have taken a little more time to fully define their new sound.

(Online July 2, 2009)

Ailo Ravna

Written for the Metal Observer

Revelations Of The Black Flame - 50%

gojko88, July 1st, 2009

1349 are a band of little surprise. Or at least it’s been that way until now. After a totally raw, top quality Norwegian black metal displayed on 2003’s “Liberation”, their seminal album, “Beyond The Apocalypse”, followed in 2004. Hardworking as they were, 2005 saw the release of “Hellfire”, no less powerful than its predecessor. With such a good back catalogue, I was pretty much using every chance I got to hype this band, since I really believe that their sophomore album makes it into all-time top 10 black metal albums any day of the week, with the other ones following quite closely. The band started touring, touring, touring, and then, Tjalve, their guitarist, left. No room for any fuss was left, as everything happened amicably and on good terms. However, people knew that he was the riff-maker that made 1349 such a damn good band, and that would be enough to get any fan concerned. They were always describing themselves as the ones “keeping the spirit of the 2nd wave of black metal alive”, which was true. Until now.

It’s been four long years of waiting for this album, and I’m indescribably sorry to say that it pretty much failed everywhere. First of all, any expectations you might have of a 1349 album have to be dropped instantly. Even though it might not seem so at first glance, as the sinister screaming sounds of “Invocation” grow on you, following into “The Serpentine Sibilance”, this can’t really be considered a black metal album. Apart from the aforementioned “The Serpentine Sibilance”, which is a bit on the slow side, and the only typically great (not excellent) 1349 song on the album, “Maggot Fetus”, there is not a single by-the-book black metal track. The rest is a combination of dark ambient, instrumental and black metal elements, most of which are mediocre at best. Such elements are understandable on a black metal album, desirable even, but not when they take up 80% of the running time and not when they sound this drawn out and redundant. While I do understand the band’s need to progress stylistically and musically, I don’t really like when it sounds as forced as it does here, and I certainly don’t like the fact that it’s 1349 that’s changed. It really seems as if someone was thinking “Why don’t we become a black metal version of Sunn O))) on the next album?” I am just a fan and have no right to dispute the band’s wish to change in any way, but it’s also up to me to decide whether the end result is good – and it is not. Bluntly put, except for the few interesting sections here and there, this album is boring. Even the Pink Floyd cover, “Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun” is boring. Technically, the album is perfect, the production is in place, everything seems thought-out and put together carefully, but it doesn’t have the prime feature of any 1349 album – it doesn’t hit. What’s been tried out here is outright treading on soil dominated by bands with far more field experience. If I hadn’t known this album was made by this band, I might’ve even liked it, but this way, all you’ll be doing for the full length of this 45-minute album after the 15-minute mark will be waiting for the interlude to pass and the next aggressive, madly angry track to begin. Which never comes.

(originally written for Metal Sound webzine, www.metal-sound.net)

A Break From Black... - 95%

Nintendevil, June 30th, 2009

I feel obliged to write a review for this album for... well obvious reasons. It hasn't become the most popular of works, but this is due -in my opinion- to close mindedness. I'm almost confident to say most of the people who reviewed this album didn't even listen to it all the way through (but I can't justify that.) The most obvious issue to most of the [former] fans of 1349 is the 'ambiance' which is contained in (depending on your point of view and what you call ambiance) around 40% of the album. While I do feel a doom album must have some ambiance to be successful, I will say Revelations is pushing it, but not to the point that it is un-bearable. Before I get the to the meat of the album, I would first like to point out that Tom did NOT produce the album. He was present at times, and everyone was aware of the choices they made.* He said 1349 would change yet again with the next album. Perhaps they where just meant to change a lot, or perhaps they didn't want to be remembered for making the same album over again. If that's so, then they've done a mighty good job of it. The only true disappointment to me was the thin drumming sound, that becomes minor after a while.

The album begins with a horrifying screech, being Invocation. If Hell isn't the first thing that comes to mind hearing this, I don't want to know what is. In the background are the beats of Frost's bass drum slowly counting some doom-like event (as all dark doom should) until the song climaxes. A rhythmic riff plays over the waves of chords and noise until it picks up to a constant; overall a solid song and intro, though perhaps it could have used another bridge. Serpent Sibilance is next, and immediately starts on a different page. This is of course a good thing. We don't want songs to mash together and sound the same. Beginning a little more black than most of the other songs on the album, this track goes out the window and back. A few slower riffs mixed with doses of speed all nailed to your skull by slow heavy drumming and even blasts makes this an outstanding song, certainly by every definition. At this point the album sounds promising. But then we are brought to Horns, the only track I found unnecessary. All in all it brought nothing unique to the table, which is the key to ambiance. I figured this was what the ambiance was about. I continued listening in hopes of a good tune or some inspiring sounds.

And to my luck, the next song lands once again on a positive note. Most obviously a more traditionally written song, Maggot Fetus... Teeth Like Horns is very straightforward and satisfying. Despite the unusual name, this song would song very classic 1349 had it not been for the quiet hidden drumming. Misanthropy is a shock from the beginning. Most will be extremely nit-picky for the constant ticking sound in this song, which was... really stupid, but after a while became enchanting, and -dare I say it- likable. But perhaps even more shocking was the dissonant chord struck by a piano, which was a nice refreshing move by 1349. The song climbs into a slow riff which ends soon, leading into what I believe to be the highlight of the album. Uncreation. Utterly brilliant is the arpeggio being both sinister, brutal, dark, enchanting and just plain evil. Every damn word in "The Book of Things People Can Use to Describe Metal" fits here. The chorus, sounding just as brilliant suits wonderfully. This is my prime choice for the album. At times, the bass can also be heard playing a melody beneath the guitar - a rarity in black metal. Again, Frost's drumming shines here.

I have trouble understanding why everyone was surprised to see a Pink Floyd cover on this album. Numerous times have members said that they where indeed a large influence on them. If not a hard task it is to find a metal cover of a rock and roll song, then harder it is to find a good one. Set The Control for The Heart of the Sun was absolutely perfect for the album, the band, the genre, and was executed seamlessly with hints of brutal drumming on the side. In this track, Tom Gabriel Fischer played the guitar by request from 1349. Perhaps this adds to the awesome of this track, but alone this song is another worthy of praise. This is coming from a guy who never really liked Pink Floyd, or rather I never understood their hype. Sue me.

Putting that aside, there are two more tracks to cover. The next one is again a filler track yet I fell a stronger connection to this song. Solitude (Also probably the first thing to think of when hearing the words doom metal) is a very relaxing and artistic song. The tone is that sweet sound of that of what sounds somewhere between a moaning violin and a guitar, later leading into acoustics. I would best describe this as: Buckethead meets "Listen to the Whales Soundscapist" or something. Perhaps I love this because I am drawn to Buckethead's music too. Finally to end the album is what at first again seems to be ambiance, but picks up. At The Gate ends the album. Almost immediately it strikes an "Iron Man Intro" kind of bend. This process continues with the bass. It shows some form of structure through and through, but closes just as the album should. Satisfying us, and not leaving us with a big "?".

No doubt this is an album to purely love or hate. Change can be a difficult obstacle for us to face. Just remember, any change can be embraced, and I wouldn't worry a day in my life about what's to come of our beloved 1349.


* Fischerisdead.blogspot.com - Tom Gabriel Fischer mentioning his participation on the album.

674.5 - 41%

ghastlylugosi, June 17th, 2009

As numerologists among you might have guessed, 674.5 is HALF of 1349, which is kind've almost what this album is. From the other reviews you can glean that there isn't too much fast on here, and that it is fraught with 'ambient', which, as I always harp about, is actually a misnomer. Ambient sounds are sounds which are simply there (a refrigerator running, wind, a heartbeat, etc.), not music composed in any way. What people often refer to as 'ambient' in the context of metal albums is, in fact, composed music which tends to repeat itself. Or, is "spooky noises", which tend to repeat themselves. Kept to a decent length of time, we can call these 'intros' or 'outros'. When repeated ad nauseum, we get what THEY call 'ambient', and what I call Repetetive Dumb Noise, or RDN. Now let me use that term in my opinion of the album.

From the other reviews, the reader can get the idea what the actual "songs" are like. I will add that the production is thick, and unlike anything they've released before; the Celtic Frost comparisons stem from the second track (an 'homage', rather than a clone) and perhaps the clunky experimentation that makes up the bulk of the album. Actually kind've amusing how 1349 toured with CF, and now Tom shows up as a producer and guest musician. Amusing, or trite. But I think the production suits this material.

It has been suggested that this be likened to a doom album, which I can understand; if it must be labelled, that would be the closest thing. I tend to believe that this was meant to be absorbed as a whole work, not individual tracks. It is my vote that as such, it is a failure. I've waited until I've listened to it at least 25 times to write my review and this is it. It fails for me. The "album" feels like an ep of material, with the songs buffered on all sides by filler RDN junk that any Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan could've made with a cheapo keyboard. What is the fascination amongst many black metal artists with this RDN crap? One instance per album is enough, but half an album of it (and it DOES fill up half of "Revelations of the Black Flame", as stand-alone tracks or within the context of other tracks)?!?!?!? And though I've not heard the original Pink Floyd song, I can say that the 1349 version is a pretty annoying exercise in minimalistic repetition, the only cool part being the creaky "spook-house" whispered vocals. And even they get boring after awhile.

Something I don't think anyone has mentioned is perhaps the final track on "Hellfire" was a precursor to this new direction? And even that monotonous droning dirge wasn't as different from the "normal" 1349 sound as this new album is.

I don't dismiss this album as a "sell out" or "betrayal"; I accept it as a group of artists (who don't exercise ANY of their vast talents on this) who are TRYING to accomplish something new, and fail. It is "new", but it sounds disjointed and hokey, and I find myself skipping over many parts, much like Manowar's "Gods of War, Part 1"(how's THAT for an insulting comparison?). 1349 have proven to be innovative in the past, so this shouldn't really surprise us very much. However, this should've been an ep in my opinion, and when you think about how long it's been since "Hellfire", its even MORE of a gyp! I gave it many chances, including listening in a room dark but for one guttering candle, while drinking red wine, at extremely LOUD volume, and again the same way at lower volume in case I "missed something". Nope. For me, it succeeds as being background music while I read something. I don't hate it, but I can't say that I like it. As a RABID 1349 fan, I ignored the advice "you should really listen to this before you buy it; it'll make you angry". Well, it didn't really make me angry, but it did disappoint me; though I would've bought it anyway in hopes it would "grow" on me. After 25 listens, it hasn't.

Who are you and what have you done with 1349? - 60%

MikeyC, June 13th, 2009

When I heard about the new 1349 album Revelations Of The Black Flame, I must admit I was excited. After bringing out three albums in three years, which include the incredible Hellfire, I couldn’t wait for them to unveil what they had achieved after four years away from the limelight. In fact, I was that excited, I ended up pre-ordering it almost immediately.

After I pre-ordered it, the feedback started coming through as to how bland and completely separate this was to Hellfire. With negative after negative feedbacks taking place, I must say I was worried. Surely it couldn’t be that bad, right? I eventually got my copy in the mail, and decided to see what all the bad press was about.

I can only assume that 1349 thought they were a love child of Deathspell Omega and Blut Aus Nord during the recording of this album. That’s my best explanation for the abundance of ambience and interludes that pepper the black metal material here. It goes without saying that for those, including me, who were expecting something similar to Hellfire are sure to be disappointed entirely. This is a complete 180-degree change for these guys.

But hold on! Not all is lost here. The opener “Invocation” is actually very enjoyable, despite the 6-and-a-half minutes being taken up by around 4 minutes of ambience. The album kicks off with a bunch of echoed shrieking, then a little section of ambience before the drums fade in. I will still claim this introduction as one of my favourite sections here. The rest of the song isn’t too bad, either, but you will notice how much slower this is to anything on Hellfire. Next track, “Serpentine Sibilance,” is perhaps one of my favourites here. The final minute is easily the fastest section of Revelations Of The Black Flame, which gives listeners a glimpse of what 1349 are definitely capable of. It gives the song a lot more energy than it otherwise wouldn’t have boasted. “Maggot Fetus” isn’t such a bad song, either. The main riff has a slight black’n’roll edge to it, accentuated by the drumming.

The production is quite muddy, but to be fair, it perhaps suits this sort of black metal more than the extreme blasting heard on Hellfire. If this sort of production was on that album, I doubt I could even get past a few tracks, because the most important element of the album, the intense drumming, would be lost under a murky sea of guitars and bass. Here, though, it seems to work okay, even for the rare fast parts, such as “Serpentine Sibilance,” but it’s more advantageous during the ambient sections.

Speaking of which, that is the reason most fans are screaming. Ambience takes up three whole songs here – “Horns,” “Misanthropy,” and “Solitude,” plus the bulk of “Invocation.” I can’t say I don’t like ambience in metal, because I think it can work well. Unfortunately, here, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. “Misanthropy” is not very good, consisting of a piano piece that, if any more off-key, would have me skipping it completely. “Horns” isn’t bad, but I feel like it’s just sitting there – the song doesn’t segue into the next one, nor is it led in by the previous one, so I feel like it was put there to add to the running time and track length. The songs themselves contain ambience within themselves, like the aforementioned “Invocation,” so the whole album is basically soaked in it.

One of the biggest disappointments here would be the performance of Frost. He traded his blasting fury for the simplest of beats (again, with the exception of the ending to “Serpentine Sibilance”). A constant flurry of double kick and snare drum insanity wouldn’t work with the style they’ve created, but I feel like he could’ve done more. His drumming on “At The Gates…” is so minimalist, it’s a wonder he even turned up to the recording studio (although, I guess I could say the same thing about Archaon on “Set The Controls To The Heart Of The Sun”). Everybody knows what Frost can accomplish, so it just seems like his overwhelming talents are wasted here.

I guess there’s not a lot more I could say about this album now. Everything after “Maggot Fetus” is very slow, which isn’t a bad thing, but unfortunately, it contains the poor “Misanthropy,” and the album closes with “At The Gates…,” which sounds like a much more boring version of a good Thorns song. Revelations Of The Black Flame is not as bad an effort as others have been making out, as there are some good songs here, but I would stick with Hellfire, and cross your fingers that 1349 can reproduce the chaos they so expertly crafted there. I’d suggest getting the new Anaal Nathrakh, Ad Hominem, or wait for the new Thorns album, and give this a miss.

...reaching another level - 80%

HS, June 12th, 2009

First of all: contrary to others I'm NOT completely disappointed by this record. I knew that I couldn’t expect some kind of Hellfire pt. II and it was no problem for me since Hellfire never was one of my favourite albums. To be honest, "Revelations Of The Black Flame" has nothing to do with their earlier efforts. Absolutely nothing. Nevertheless I regard this album as the most evil piece of music these Norwegians have ever created. How’s that possible?

Atmosphere is the keyword. The new style is a mix between black- and doom metal with dark ambient and noise elements. The songs are mostly kept in mid-/slow tempo, they are sometimes very minimalist, and there are hardly any fast parts in the songs. But the songs manage to create an disturbing, cold and evil atmosphere. They never made music like this before, it's something entirely different. "Invocation" is the first song; it consists only of tortured screams and some noise parts, and after three minutes the guitars start to play. It's basically a good opener. There are overall three instrumental interludes which are all minimalist but well done. "Maggot Fetus" is the only track that is fast from the beginning to the end and reminds of their earlier songs. It's fast, primitive and sick. "Uncreation" is again a slower song that develops and gets really fast in the end; I like the solo which brings a chaotic feeling in. To my surprise, even the Pink Floyd cover "Set the controls for the heart of the sun" fits seamless to the rest. If I didn’t read that this song was originally written by Pink Floyd, I wouldn't believe it. This song is dark and bleak; it's like the soundtrack for travelling in a post-apocalyptic, radiation-contaminated landscape.

"Revelations …" leads 1349 in a completely different musical direction and I can say that this album is not for everyone. It's not easy to describe the music with words, or to point out any favourites, you have to listen to the whole album to understand it.

However, if there were a few faster parts or one song more like "Maggot Fetus" I'd give it an even higher rating. But again; this album is by no means bad – but just don’t make the mistake and expect something like "Beyond the Apocalypse" or "Hellfire". Do yourself a favour and listen to it first before you buy it.

1349 - Revelations of the Black Flame - 100%

Avestriel, May 29th, 2009

Yes, just like the previous reviewers, I AM in fact highly disappointed by this album, but only because I, like many others, expected some sort of Hellfire Part Deux. Once I understood this is a mistake, one that has ruined the reputation of many a great album (take every single post-De Mysteriis Mayhem album as an example), just because they don't "reach the greatness" of a previous effort, rendering the innovation and potential it might have underappreciated by most.

What we have here is definitely the most experimental album this band will probably ever produce unless they decide to jump into the avant-garde or just completely swap genre in the future years. The album could loosely be described as a (most of the time) slowed down, ambient-er Hellfire with mysterious resemblances to Celtic Frost from time to time. All in all there's like 10 minutes worth of "actual" black metal (read: tremolos, blastbeats et all) in this whole album, and most of those minutes aren't that remarkable at all. The sound itself is very similar to the previous album, with the radical difference of the way the drums were recorded and mixed. These sound a lot more dull and silenced, kind of lost in the noise of the extremely loud guitars. The vocals seem to become weakened at the peak of this wall of noise, which really takes some of the aggressivity these guys were known for away.

The other major new aspect this album brings is the experimentation with ambiance and noise. The very first track being a prime example of this, the guitars starting their work just two minutes before the 6 minute song is over. I don't usually see this as a bad thing, except in this case it seems overdone and doesn't quite fit in with the rest of the album. Songs like Misanthropy only reinforce this feeling, because just like Invocation, more than half of the song is comprised of a soft piano and ambient-like sounds, and then the only guitar we actually hear is a droning tone which just drags itself towards the next song.

The rest of the album seems to be closer to black-doom than it is to black metal, slow tempos and repetitive melodies taking over the soundscape, low, chugging powerchords alternated with slight moments of dissonant high pitches, the drums stuck in one speed, the only change in them is the alternate use of double-bassdrums in a very depressive-black-metal fashion, all of this only ever so sporadically interrupted by opaque blastbeats and strangely entertaining solos. We can take the last song as the ultimate example of this new drone-doom sound, being the slowest song on the album, and having the fuzziest feeling of them all, with probably three notes per riff, and probably only two riffs in the whole song, the drums barely making an appearance, and the voice being practically whispered to the microphone, enhanced with some FX, this is as funeral doom as black metal can get (if you still consider this to be black metal that is).

I don't particularly see this as a bad thing. If someone made me listen to this and said this is a debut from some unknown band I'd say "well this is interesting" and would probably end up liking it, but I can't get over the fact that this is 1349 we're talking about, so yeah, it pisses me off at times. But after I get over the fact that there'll never be a work from 1349 like Hellfire, I end up embracing this new direction, hoping this album is only some sort of bridge between their previous style and a more concrete, solid style they'll likely develop in the future.

Now, there's another thing I'd like to mention: The Pink Floyd cover. This is just amazing. Not the music per se, but the fact that a black metal band from Norway has a Pink Floyd cover (of a song from their second album, no less!) in it makes me really, really happy. The music itself is as you'd expect after reading this review: Focused on ambient more than anything else, simplistic and repetitive, but if you see this as a bad thing, you obviously haven't heard the original song (or liked it, for that matter). I think it's not just one of the most original covers I've heard in the realms of metal, it's actually a pretty fucking great rendition.

All in all, this album is in no way similar to anything else these guys have ever done, it's slower, more tame, and extremely experimental, and it's hard to imagine they'll ever go back to the familiar style they've been playing up until now. We'll just have to get used to it or stop caring, which is what most people will do anyway, assuming they're not idiots who will constantly cry and moan about something they can't change. This album has a lot of merit to it, not just because the guys had the balls to create such a thing, but because most of the album is actually quite good by it's own means. The only aspects I can really criticize about this album are the Celtic Frost-esque influences which take over the spotlight in a couple of songs, reminding me more of a death-doom project than a black metal band, and the fact that there seems to be a lot of lost potential for a seriously great album, which was wasted for the sake of experimentation.

This album is not, I repeat, it's NOT for those who expect some kind of second coming of the "saviours of the norwegian black metal scene". I'm sorry but that part of this band's story seems to be over for good. Now try and embrace the new direction, or just listen to the ever-increasing number of talented bands that to this day keep coming up with great and at the same time innovative black metal.

Originally written for the paper version of the Terror Cult Zine
http://www.terrorcultprod.glt.pl/

What is this trash? - 15%

brainsmasher, May 28th, 2009

From the onset of this album it is clear that 1349 is reaching outside the box for a new direction. Sailing far away from their last album Hellfire which was pretty much a death metal album with black metal tuning, they seem to be trying to incorporate more experimental and atmospheric elements into the fold. While this is mainly ineffective and messy most of the time, when there is some actual music going on, its really convoluted and messy. Gone is the brilliant riffing found on the debut EP or Liberation, gone is the brilliant hyperspeed blasting of Frost, gone is the...metal! This is like a "flash in the pan" ambient / soundscape album with the occasional minute and a half or so of music.

The album was co-mixed by Tom Fischer of Celtic Frost. Why? You got me. The guitars are severely over driven and a murky muddy mess which also buries the drums in the mix. While not a whole lot to write home about, i'm actually pretty impressed by the way the vocals sound on here. Lots of varied unique engineering and panning that breathes life into an otherwise standard vocal performance.

The song writing on here is flaccid and underwhelming, but the riffing is just downright boring. There are several riffs on here that make me think I'm standing in guitar center watching some dork fuck around on an Epiphone. I think 1349 decided that it had been too long since their last release, so the guitar player threw some riffs on a tape and sent them to Frost. During the lunch break he got on the one day he took to write and record Satyricon's "The Age of Nero," he whipped up 15 minutes of drumming over the riff tape and sent it to the singer to add his stuff.

After suffering through this whole shitbarf of an album, I can honestly say there is only one song that is even a song. Track #4 "Maggot Fetus...Teeth Like Thorns" is a somewhat speedy turd that actually feels like a song, but its merely ok at best. While I wasn't a fan of Hellfire, I would take it over this album any day. Stop wasting our time and give us something worth downloading.

This is legitimately bad - 25%

deltawing, May 27th, 2009

Wow, I heard they were changing up their style, but in NO way did I expect this.

Hellfire was arguably a modern black metal master/thrashterpiece and my excitement for their next opus was through the roof. I can honestly say that I couldn't have been more disappointed than I am right now. I regret to inform the masses that 1349 have given up most of their blasting and balls to the wallness in favor of ambient noise...

...no, I'm not kidding...

Ravn doesn't even sound as evil on this album, either. He sounds like he's holding back rather than screaming out with tortuous screams that perfectly complemented the frantic pace of Hellfire, as well as past efforts. A lot of this album is a major cocktease, as well. Once you get past the first snoozefest of a song you hear the potential of possible heaviness in Serpentine Sibilance, but it just keeps on dragging at a snail's pace, which is not what we've come to expect from 1349 lately. Really, the only thing reminiscent of Hellfire is the buzzing bees tremolo picking throughout the album, but its a lot less noticeable on this album, unfortunately, as it was one of my favorite parts of their past efforts as the guitarwork was surprisingly catchy!

Also, where the fuck is Frost on this album? His effort on Hellfire was remarkable, but it seems like they told him to forget any sort of experimentation and just lay down rather bland drum tracks to complement the bland music already in place. Speaking of bland, let's talk about the 3rd track, just 3 minutes of noise. Awesome.

Maggot Fetus...Teeth Like Thorns is really the only song that comes even close to what is expected from 1349's style, but even then it's sound still feels like it isn't being allowed to let loose and rampage the listener's ears. A lot of these songs just seem straight up stupid, for lack of a better word. They seem like incomplete ideas with pointless ambient noise and the recording of a steel industry worker pounding some steel in the background for random effect.

My official count is at least 3 entire songs are just ambient noise that serve absolutely no purpose, NOT TO MENTION the parts of songs that are just ambient noise that serve no purpose for the song's agenda, whatsoever. It's pretty ridiculous how their style has changed so much, I can only wonder what could possibly justify this as good music. There are about maybe 1.5 total songs out of the 9 that could potentially be great if they were further developed, but the rest of the album is just dumb, no other words for it.

Basically, if you expect a stylistic follow-up to Hellfire then you better properly set yourself up for disappointment, I'm afraid to say. This is easily my top disappointment for 2009, and my advice would be to just throw Hellfire back in because this one is not worth your time.