Monday, December 10, 2012


1349 - Liberation
Candlelight Records, 2003
Genre: Black Metal

1. Manifest
2. I Breathe Spears
3. Riders of the Apocalypse
4. Deathmarch
5. Pitch Black
6. Satanic Propaganda
7. Legion
8. Evil Oath
9. Liberation
10. Buried by Time and Dust (Mayhem Cover)

The only reason I was motivated to check out this band is because Frost from Satyricon plays drums for them.  Do not expect any similarities to Satyricon however.  This band seems to be living in the past, per se, for their sound is more focused on the earlier forms of Black Metal.  For starters 1349 are using a very raw style of production, this makes the instruments fairly difficult to make out in general for the listener.  For example on “Liberation” the drums drown out almost everything on the album.  Which, for me is not a very big deal because I play drums, but for those who would like to hear the rest of the instruments this could be a problem.  Overall this sounds okay, but I have actually become more accustomed to better production these past few years, so I kind of expect better from Black Metal bands these days.  No longer will the excuse of “no budget” fly in my book.  This may change overtime; my critiquing of production seems to be fleeting on some levels.  I do appreciate a well produced album, but I also greatly enjoy the more “raw” recordings as well.  However, a raw recording today is leagues better than a raw recording in ‘80’s, so maybe I like this more because it is better produced just because of the era it is in.  I will point out that this band does one of the best covers of Mayhem’s “Buried by Time and Dust” I have ever heard though.  This song alone makes the album worth hearing by every Black Metal fan at the very least. 

When I first took a look at the track list on this album, I said to myself “‘Pitch Black?’ This can't actually have anything to do with the movie."  However, after reading through the lyrics, it does appear that the whole song bears absolute influence from the movie "Pitch Black" starring Vin Diesel.  While I am not a big Vin fan I honestly really did enjoy this movie quite a bit.  I think it is really cool that this band was influenced enough to write about the movie.  I myself get a lot of influence from movies and such creative works.  They did a great job on it because "Pitch Black" is by far one of my favorite tracks on the album.

Everything about this album screams traditional from the shoddy production, to the incoherent guitar lines at times and the unrelenting blasting of the drums.  We all know that Frost is a blast master and is actually creative enough to keep a listeners’ interest drum wise.  Come to think of it, this is a pretty damn good album, just with some flaws.  So, basically, if you are stuck in the past or if you just wish every Black Metal band played like it was 1990, then this album is right up your alley.

1349 - 1349
Holycaust Records, 2001
Genre: Black Metal

1. End of All
2. Antichrist Warzone
3. Chaos Within
4. The Usurper (Celtic Frost Cover)

This is the 1349 debut mini-CD, which got them the recognition of playing extremely high quality Black Metal.  The music definitely reminds me of the early days of Black Metal; however, the production is slightly better than those days.  Though, the raw naturally atmospheric feel of Black Metal is ever present in this music.  One of the major reasons this band got instant recognition is because Frost has opted to play drums on this album.  Now, at this time he was only supposed to be a session member until they could locate a more permanent drummer.  However, shortly after this, Frost decided to join the band full time, which was an excellent decision, in my opinion, because this band is great.

Just because this is a recently formed band and they use the production of early times by no means says they sound like Burzum, Darkthrone, or Mayhem, the most common bands copied from the time.  1349 have their own sound, they have their own views, and they are incredible musicians.  Riff masters Tjalve and Archaon write some of the most intoxicating Black Metal songs I have heard in a while.  I can see why after the release of this mini-CD they were immediately picked up by Candlelight Records.  “End of All” opens with a slow dirge like song, which really sets forth the mood for the rest of the album.  However, after about a minute it launches onto fast hate-filled Black Metal, but the song is masterfully written between the dirge feel and the high tempo Black Metal.  After reading through the lyrics on this release, I’ve come to realize that they take much more care in writing their lyrics than most other bands do.  Probably because it was quite a team effort, every musician in this band contributed something to the lyrics.  So the lyrics have an interesting and very intelligent feel to them.  They are not just mindless drivel about Satan.  Satan is not even mentioned in the lyrics, and they are geared more towards atheism than anything else.  However, by the time “Liberation” comes out they lyrically contradict themselves and start singing about Satan.  I am not sure what the change in heart for this was, but I honestly preferred the lyrics on “1349” they seemed a bit more intellectual from my perspective.

The vocal arrangements were taken with care and anyone can easily see this if they read the lyrics along with the songs.  The rhythms fall together vocally in an excellent manner that actually caught my ear after reading through the lyrics and listening to the songs.  The drum performance as anyone can guess is flawless.  I’m glad Frost decided to ultimately join the band because finding a drummer as creative and as intense as him would have been nearly impossible.  An interesting aspect is that the drums were triggered for this album, so they really stood out and backed up the music quite well.  “1349” sort of has the feel of Tsjuder’s “Kill for Satan.”  This is a good thing in my opinion, because the triggered drums gave an interesting feel to the raw guitar lines.  They do not sound anything like Tsjuder guitar wise though.

The three original songs are perfect and extremely well done, but when we get to the cover song it gets disappointing.  They did a somewhat decent job on it, but it is definitely nothing to brag about.  It is like a slower version of “The Usurper.”  I listened to the original song before reviewing this because 1349’s version felt a little off.  Ravn played drums on the song and I am not sure if that is why they had to slow it down.  Do not get me wrong he was on time for this version, but the tempo of the whole song was slowed down at certain sections so it has a weird feel to it.  Plus to back this up with a vocal performance that was less than desirable.  They tried to adhere too much to the original version vocally, which is nice and I respect that as a musician.  However, I think if they had made the song more Black Metal oriented it would have been better received.  At the very least Ravn could have used his normal Black Metal vocals instead of trying to sound like the original recording.  I think that may have redeemed the song from its different tempo. 

This is, overall, an incredible debut album and they should absolutely get every ounce of respect they deserve.  It injects three very original songs into the heart of Black Metal and makes the listeners wanting more and more from this band.  However, they could have left out the Celtic Frost cover as far as I am concerned because it was a poor closing for the first three songs.  It does not leave the listener with a great closing and feeling like they have just purchased an overly incredible album.  If you can just ignore that fact and focus on the first three tracks then it is perfect.  As a listener I would not pass this up at all, even if the last song is a flop, it is still more than worth having.

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