1349 - Revelations of the Black Flame (Candlelight/Earsplit)

Despite popular belief, evil things do come in slow packages.


Ya know, I don't make a habit of reading other reviews of a particular album before I sit down to pen my own review. This is simply due to the fact that I don't really want to be influenced by what some other douchebag has said about an album before this douchebag has formed his own opinion of an album's content. Make sense? Unfortunately, in the case of 1349's new long player, Revelations of the Black Flame, I didn't have much choice. First, Terrorizer Magazine, one of my all time faves, spat a short slander of the album on Twitter regarding the album being less than stellar. Of course, in these dark economic times, I felt that it would be prudent of me to see what other 'journalists' were saying about the record before I threw some money at it. Though the other opinions I found were mixed, it seemed that the other reviews were all quite polarized. It was either, 'Wowee! An amazing experimental progression!' or 'Unholy fuck! What is this steaming pile of boring shit?!'


'Aw, man!' I thought to myself with a frown, 'Did they truly take four years since the release of Hellfire (2005) to write and record a gigantic black turd?!' Somewhere deep down in my black metallized heart I still held out hope. This hope undoubtedly stems from my complete devotion to the band's debut full length inferno, Liberation, that was unleashed upon mankind with reckless abandon in 2003, and the fact that Frost (of Satyricon fame) is the band's skinsman.


Liberation, with its end-to-end blast-beat-fuelled assault, was a complete masterpiece of Norwegian black metal sickness! The band's next two cuts, 2004's Beyond the Apocalypse and definitely 2005's Hellfire, were solid efforts, but lacked the ice cold fury of the debut. Could it be that 1349 had finally shot its foul black load?


The answer is NO! Though Revelations of the Black Flame is by no means a blazing album of traditional Norwegian black metal, it is a mature, black-as-pitch release brimming with sinister ambience and crushing doom overtones. From the tortured scream of the opening track, Invocation, the listener is sent spiralling beyond the very hinges of Hell itself.


The first two minutes of the track set the theme for the remainder of the album and are a dark atmospheric trip that evolves into a mid-paced crusher with an industrialised feel to it. This doominess carries through to the third track, Horns, which is just over three minutes of death ambient drone. I believe that the death ambient atmosphere that is present throughout the album is due to the presence of Celtic Frost's Tom G. Warrior, who was involved in the album's mixdown, as well being credited with additional production work. The album picks up at the fourth track, Maggot Fetus... Teeth Like Horns, which is a more traditional style black metal song. After another three minutes of experimental horror, we are greeted by the plodding doom of Uncreation, which sounds very much like a track that would have been at home on the aforementioned Celtic Frost's own Monotheist.


Then a big surprise in the form of a blackened cover of the Pink Floyd classic, Set the Controls For the Heart of the Sun, in which Mr. Warrior handles guitar and bass duties. Surprisingly, not a single one of the 10 or 11 reviews I had perused made mention of this track at all. Hmmm? Is it possible that closed minded reviewers had no idea what this song was? Normally, a song such as Set the Controls... would be entirely out of place on a black metal record, except for perhaps the latest Nachtmystium effort that has Floyd blatantly ejaculated all over it; but 1349 have taken the song and transformed it into an evil distorted twin.


As a bonus, Revelations of the Black Flame comes packaged with a bonus disc entitled Works of Fire, Forces of Hell. This disc showcases one of the band's final live gigs from their 2005 European tour. Although this bonus disc is no Live In Germania in terms of overall quality, it is six tracks that represent the intensity of the band's live performance and only adds to the overall value of the package. Not to mention, if you wax nostalgic for the more speedy and violent 1349 material, then this disc is a fitting palette cleanser.


I guess the bottom line with Revelations of the Black Flame comes down to ones personal preference. If you can't handle any sort of atmosphere or doom influence infused into your black metal, or you're a completely closed-minded puritan of the genre, this album is probably not going to corpse your paint. However, if you raise your horns to dark, heavy, Satanic music in all its speeds and forms, Revelations... is sure to take you on the full guided tour of the Pandemonium!



1349's Revelations of the Black Flame is out now on Candlelight/Earsplit.