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1349 - The Infernal Pathway

The Infernal Pathway
by Chris Hawkins at 23 December 2019, 4:15 PM

Few bands have the legitimacy, urgency, and sorcery of 1349.  Legitimized as Norwegian Black Metal lifers who formed in 1997 with the addition of one, Frost of SATYRICON, as their drummer back in 2000.  Over twenty-two years, the band have certainly evolved but never straying from creating music with an immediacy to it, songs that grab you and take you on an inner journey.  Perhaps that is where the sorcery comes in.  Though they may not blast on every song as on “Hellfire,” that core HELLHAMMER/CELTIC FROST, BATHORY, and MAYHEM influence serves as a triple-branched tree from which their creativity is harvested.  Whether playing scorching blasts or more intricate rhythms, throughout the album, the mood is decidedly maudlin, certifiably grim.

Abyssos Antithesis” is the tongue-twisting opener which erupts with a staggered feeling of unease.  Midway through, though, the band are blazing away.  The main breakdown is short, sweet, and concise.  There are equal parts BATHORY and CELTIC FROST influence at play and with a run-time over five minutes, many angles of the band’s present, past, and perhaps future are alluded to.  The following track, “Through Eyes of Stone,” features another brutal breakdown from out of nowhere.  Again, they don’t overdo it causing its flash to be a rewarding experience altogether.

Another highlight of the album is the fifth track, “Towers Upon Towers”.  At the 2:14 mark, the interlude that occurs is so absolutely, blatantly Heavy Metal that it is perfect.  The dive bomb guitar tracks emphasize an audible one-upping of classic SLAYER.  The main riff of the song must be mentioned too.  It is very reminiscent of “Blizzard Beats”-era IMMORTAL with that very shrill, articulated riffing style payed as such.  What is interesting is that I cannot remember hearing a band previously tread down a similar path, consciously or not.

The production is definitely dark creating a palpable air of their sound and atmosphere.  It is a very riff-centric sound with a stark focus on the riffs as well as the drums.  Whatever can be accented to create a heavier air of evil is taken advantage of.  The drums are mighty without doubt and have a stout, organic tone that properly echoes throughout the space of sound.  Thankfully, the bass can be heard throughout, steadily pounding away and closely locked in with Frost.  Vocally, the malevolent vibe is successfully achieved for Ravn.

The album is broken up by three instrumental tracks, “Tunnel of Set VIII,” “IX,” and “X”.  These are not filler though for they help the record maintain a nuanced musical pace.  In Extreme Metal, this can be truly helpful, and one will note the usage of such interludes by MORBID ANGEL, for example, in their shining classic years.  The highlight of the album is the ninth track, “Dødskamp,” the first track to be released as a single.  It floored me when I first heard it and while still Black Metal, it is very forward-thinking mixing elements like huge, minor/diminished chords and raucous rhythms with the band’s staple haunting Black Metal riffs such as the main riff in this song.  It truly is stunning.

The Infernal Pathway” is an album aimed with hatred at those who would have had them fail.  Take, for example, the media who constantly focus on nothing but the drama of Black Metal.  1349 yet again heed the call creating an album that requires more than just a couple of listens.  One has to satisfactorily digest the material because it can sound very dissonant at times but when further explored, it makes musical sense in the scheme of what the band wants done.  If BOLZER are the VOIVOD of Black Metal, then 1349 are the CELTIC FROST.  There is no mistaking the intended tone with its wrath and vehemence.  We would have it no other way.

Songwriting:  8
Originality:  8
Memorability:  8
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. Abyssos Anithesis
2. Through Eyes of Stone
3. Tunnel of Set VIII
4. Enter Cold Void Dreaming
5. Towers Upon Towers
6. Tunnel of Set IX
7. Deeper Still
8. Striding the Chasm
9. Dødskamp (album version)
10. Tunnel of Set X
11. Stand Tall in Fire
Seidemann – Bass
Ravn – Vocals
Archaon – Guitars
Frost – Drums
Record Label: Season of Mist Records


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