Review Summary: A failure of epic proportions.
Indifference is perhaps the best way to describe my relationship with 1349. I've never been the biggest fan of their blast-happy brand of black metal, but I've never been particularly averse to it either. For that reason I had very little interest in Revelations of the Black Flame
. Naturally I figured it would be more of the same: forgettable vocals, loud guitars and incessantly fast drumming. I could have predicted it before the album was announced. Then I got the press release. Scanning through it I saw the album described as “the soundtrack to a twisted David Lynch film” and for a minute I was curious. Then I listened to the album. As they say: curiosity killed the cat.
To put it plainly, Revelations of the Black Flame
is a terrible album. Only half of it is music, and only half of that is good. It didn't take long for me to wish for the 1349 of old. It may have been bland but it wasn't....it wasn't this. Much of the album is marred by pointless, meandering tracks such as “Misanthropy” – a track that begins with a piano riff before descending into a blur of incoherent guitar chords and random piano plinking – and “Horns”, which is 3 minutes of wind noises and little else. Even when the band threatens to play an actual song the listener is often left sitting through minutes of throwaway “ambiance” to get there; “Invocation” fills three of its first six minutes with pointless yelping and wind noises and “Serpentine Sibilance” plods around aimlessly for three minutes before wasting its final sixty seconds on a nonsequitur, punk-infused mess. “Maggot Fetus…Teeth Like Thorns” and “Uncreation” are the album's undisputed highlights, the former carrying a heavy retro-thrash influence and the latter a sprawling, mid-paced 7 minute track that surprisingly employs little to no synthesized throwaways. That being said, neither track is particularly enticing, they're just welcome alternatives to what follows: an unnecessary Pink Floyd cover (Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun), three and a half more minutes of disposable “ambiance” (this time in the form of crackles and droning guitars) and “At the Gate...”, 7 minutes of buzzing, whispering and the occasional bout of half-assed Root plagiarism.
Dominated by meandering 'ambiance' and marred by overbearing, noisy production, Revelations of the Black Flame
is an album I cannot recommend. The limited potential shown on tracks like “Uncreation” and “Maggot Fetus…Teeth Like Thorns” is squandered away by producer Tom Gabriel Fischer's (of Celtic Frost) propensity to multi-track the vocals to hell, and the album's intended ambiance sounds like someone sat on a keyboard while tuning their guitar and didn't realize the microphones were recording. It doesn't work as a collection of tracks and it certainly doesn't work as a cohesive, complete album. Mostly disposable and extremely forgettable, Revelations of the Black Flame
is a failure of epic proportions. And to make matters worse, somebody spilled jam on the cover.