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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.