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1914 - The Blind Leading the Blind Award winner

The Blind Leading the Blind
by Martin Knap at 04 December 2018, 2:10 AM

War is certainly among the most common lyrical themes in Death Metal and 1914 are by far not the first band making a concept album about World War I – BOLT THROWER and GOD DETHRONED come to mind immediately – but I don’t know about any other band that set out to make albums exclusively about WWI (as their name suggests). The concept and the music go together like carrots and peas – Death Metal lends itself very well to the expression of the sense of absurdity and suffering that the thought of war invokes in us. 1914 are a Blackened Death Metal band hailing from the Ukrainian city of Lviv, a place with a tumultuous history, especially in the first half of the twentieth century. Judging from the band’s presentation and knowing that they come from a place with such a rich history – a history pertinent to the subject – I had my hopes high that this is going to be an intense and well thought through album – and I wasn’t disappointed.

The album opens with a British WW I song which is a great illustration of the cruelty of war – a female voice singing about how she will love someone more if he returns from the front. The album is full of such evocative vignettes which draw the listener in. In the first song “Arrival. The Meuse-Argonne” we dive in right away into a fury of blast beats and fast, yet melodic tremolo picked riffs, the song has a powerful chorus with deep growls and an ominous melodic riff. An extended slow section comes before the last salvo of blast beats. “A7V Mephisto” is an eight minutes Death/Doom monster. It has a slow start and is accompanied by the sound of a squeaking wheel, then come a smooth melodic PARADISE LOST riff. The song picks up tempo and builds up aggression in the midsection – it sounds pretty much like pure Black Metal to me – before it slows down again.

Next comes “High Wood. 75 Acres of Hell” a shorter Blackened Death barn burner with a big, quite memorable chorus that has a bit of a BEHEMOTH vibe to it. “Passchenhell” is a highlight on the B-side of the album, it has a hellish main motif, played first as a guitar riff and later by a violin, which adds to the eeriness of the melody. We find a cover of a song by THE EXPLOITED (“Beat the Bastard”), which is a nice Death/Grind rendition of the original. There is another song on the album that has this kind of grindy feeling to it (“C’est Mon Dernier Pigeon”) that is also a blast. The song that gets the cake is the ten minutes long closer “The Hundred Days Offense.” To me it feels like the most Black Metal, it has searing melodic riffs and builds up slowly form an acoustic intro – with a heart-wrenching sound clip with a monologue of a soldier who begs an enemy whom he killed for forgiveness – to a cathartic high point.

I didn't expect a Death Metal album to such an emotional rollercoaster. Partly this is the result of good songwriting – the shifting between hard hitting to slow and heavy – and the quality of the riffs and melodies; the concept and the production (all the sound clips and vignettes in the songs and interludes) also help to captivate the listener. On the first listens this was an strong 8/10 for me but the more I listened to this the more I felt engaged by the album. This is one of 2018’s most interesting Death Metal releases in my opinion and I would’t be surprised if many Death Metal listeners felt the same way.

Songwriting: 9
Memorability: 9
Originality: 8
Production: 8


4 Star Rating

1. War In
2. Arrival. The Meuse-Argonne
3. A7V Mephisto
4. High Wood. 75 Acres of Hell
5. Beat the Bastards (The Exploited cover)
6. Hanging on the Old Barbed Wire
7. Passchenhell
8. C'est mon dernier pigeon
9. Stoßtrupp
10. The Hundred Days Offensive
11. War Out
33.Div., 7.Thueringisches Inf.-Reg't. Nr.96, Gefreite - Rusty Potoplacht – Drums

9.Division, Grenadier-Regiment Nr.7, Unteroffiziere - Armin fon Heinessen – Bass

37.Division, Feldartillerie-Regiment Nr.73, Wachtmiester - Liam Fessen – Guitars

2.Division, Infanterie-Regiment Nr.147, Oberleutnant – Ditmar Kumar – Vocals

5.Division, Ulanen-Regiment Nr.3, Sergeanten – Vitalis Winkelhock – Guitars

Record Label: Archaic Sound


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Edited 04 July 2020

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