08 June 2008

Album of the Week: 1349 - Hellfire

1349, along with Carpathian Forest and Gorgoroth, was among the first Black Metal bands I tried to listen to. In retrospect, that might not have been the best idea. I might have opted for something a bit more accessible and subtle. 1349's brand of Black Metal is among the most intense in existence, giving Marduk and their numerous Norsecore imitators a real run for their money. Where 1349 surpasses those competitors, however, is in the quality of the musicianship.

This fact was not readily apparent to me when I was a Black Metal neophyte, but though I found 1349 a bit overwhelming at first, it would eventually become one of my favorite Black Metal outfits (and the only one I have managed to see live, for that matter). One of the keys to 1349's success is that the band makes the old Black Metal formula a bit more interesting by injecting elements of technical Death Metal into their songwriting. This is especially true on Hellfire, which the band released in 2005. 1349 intersplices the ubiquitous blast beats with breakdowns and time changes, all done with crisp precision, thanks to the talented drumming of Frost (on loan-out from Satyricon, his primary project).

With Hellfire, 1349 launches a vicious, face-melting musical offensive and doesn't let up until the curtain falls. "To Rottendom" and "Sculptor of Flesh" are the strongest tracks on the album, though all the tracks have their strengths. Of interest is the title track which (not coincidentally) clocks in at thirteen minutes and forty nine seconds. By and large, Hellfire is an intense experience, but a rewarding one for the listener who is willing to tough it out.

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