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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 The songs are slowed down and the relentless speed has been replaced by a sludgy, dirty feel.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.

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