1349 - _Hellfire_
(Candlelight Records, 2005)
by: Jackie Smit (
Amidst claims that they've vaulted their music into bleaker territories comes 1349's next full-length, their third in as many years. While the workman-like pace at which the band have been releasing records may indicate otherwise, _Hellfire_ is by no means a rush-job. On the contrary, not only do songs like "Celestial Deconstruction" show off a darker, more brooding 1349 than at any time previously, but this time round the guitar-work also takes several steps in a decidedly more technical direction, consistently going toe-to-toe with Satyricon sticksman Frost's typically phenomenal drumming. There are drawbacks to this, as not only will purists balk at the almost death metal-like riffing of "To Rottendom", but the gritty production causes the album's myriad faster sections to sound more like full-blown havoc than anything else on a few occasions. The flipside to this is that by contrast the haunting grooves that randomly scythe their way through the album's slower moments deliver an even greater pay-off; and although the record's first track struggles to make headway into anything significant, by the time the band have torn into "Nathicana", _Hellfire_ has hit a misanthropic stride from which it rarely deviates. Not quite at the same level as Gehenna's last disc then, but a suitably violent and poignant slab of black metal nonetheless.
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