1349 – “Massive Cauldron Of Chaos” (Indie Recordings)
Aptly named after the date on which the Black Death plague arrived in Norway, Oslo’s 1349 formed in the late 90s and include drummer Frost (of Satyricon) among their members. The band have gone from strength since I first saw them debut at the Hole In The Sky festival, and are now onto their 6th album, which has taken no less than 4 years to complete. One of the reasons for this is that the band have delved into their past, drawn the best from their previous material and refined it together along the course of touring and writing. Right off the bat I’d say that the band aren’t the black metal band that I remember – at least in a traditional sense along the lines of Marduk – although that influence is undoubtedly still there but equally so this album has thrash, nihilistic punk / new wave and even catchy groove elements to it. I would imagine the band draw heavily from Celtic Frost – the band have shared stages many times with Tom Warrior – and indeed this is so especially in those sliding chord rhythms! ‘Ravn’ Bergene’s aren’t traditional cat screeches, although he can certainly scream, but tend to be more dark drawling, evil spoken word and rasps, but it all works a treat on songs like ‘Cauldron’, ‘Golem’ and ‘Godslayer’. Archaon’s guitar work is nothing short of breathtaking: violently thrashing a la early Kreator on the one hand while melding metallic clanging melodies on the other, forming the meat of 1349’s sound which blends high level technicality with unbelievable speed. Frost’s drumming needs no mention, it is nothing short of nuclear and at times his barrage is so intense it’s actually wildly overpowering in the mix, which incidentally is equally polished. Clearly a band not confined by stylistic borders, genre purists may argue as to the band’s black authenticity, however, if you believe that going beyond singing about Satan in every song to achieving a genuinely malevolent atmosphere in your material is what it’s all about, then “Massive Cauldron Of Chaos” certainly reflects its name throughout. Moreover, the intelligent song arrangements allow this to be appreciated by not just more tolerant black metallers, but metallers as a whole not necessarily sharing an affinity for the dark one, but rather aural hellfire to the max!