Review Summary: 1349 are back to raise absolute hellfire, and have created another career-defining release which will surely confirm their place among black metal's more promising groups.
In a recent interview with 1349, frontman Ravn revealed his founding principles in saying that he "didn't like the way music was presented as black metal, so I did something about it". With the band's latest album, Massive Cauldron of Chaos
, this couldn't be closer to the truth, and more so when one compares the release to 2009's disappointing Revelations of the Black Flame
and its somewhat better albeit still average successor, Demonoir
Fortunately enough then, Massive Cauldron of Chaos
should certainly convince most listeners that the band are back doing what they have done best from the very beginning-a malevolent, menacing fusion of traditional black metal elements made more vicious by the aggressive rhythm section and Ravn's grim vocal delivery. The musicianship on 1349's latest work never fails to impress, and considering that 1349 have supposedly lost a fairly critical portion of their fan-base over the last few years, songs such as the straightforward, back-to-basics "Slaves" and the twisted "Mengeles" are but two prime examples that the band are back to deliver the best of what they have to offer. Not since the heyday of Hellfire
have the band sounded so ambitious and confident in their musical performance. The guitar work is perhaps more prominent than other instruments, its tone ranging from the simplistic and fast-paced explosions of "Exorcism" and "Chained" to the epic and backgrounds of "Cauldron" and "Godslayer". Yet its driving force is really what completes Massive...
's striking impressions, and you can almost feel the viciousness of each instrument seeping through the recording from any of the album's eight songs.
mostly sticks to the tried-and-tested black metal formula on which 1349 have based the majority of their albums, there are slight deviations from the norm here and there. "Postmortem" tends to hark back to a sound which resembles more of the 80s blackened thrash style a la Sadus than it does the harsher, more primitive stylings of black metal's second wave, but in doing so the rhythm section seems to become more vicious, bringing in a few more hooks than you'd expect. "Mengeles" is just about the only song on the album which takes its time and lets rip with one of the most melodic and well-refined solo sections in 1349's musical career, and though this is somewhat brief compared to the other parts of the same song, it's that attention to detail which reminds us of 1349's penchant for a greatly written song. And Ravn even offers a more varied vocal delivery as songs such as "Exorcism" and "Godslayer" display his ungodly narrative voice amidst the menacing rhythm section, collaborating to a generally solid sound.
There is a bit of filler to be found in Massive Cauldron of Chaos
, namely the short, snappy "Golem" and its comparatively ineffective successor "Chained", yet these two songs don't seem to cut the flow of what will be remembered as a nice return to form for 1349. The band's latest album won't change opinions (unless yours was swayed easily by the ambient leanings of Revelations of the Black Flame
), but it certainly will confirm that 1349, as far as black metal in the traditional sense is concerned, are heading to the glory days once more.