Schizophrenic is a word that comes to mind when I think of 1349. Their albums have ranged from all-out Black Metal to some kind of crazy dark avant-garde shit and back again, so really who knew what to expect on this latest effort Massive Cauldron of Chaos, out September 30 via Season of Mist. I personally was hoping for something along the lines of the sonic attack they unleashed on this past spring’s Metal Alliance Tour where they blew mine and JOR-EL’S doors off at House of Blues here in Dallas. Not that I didn’t like Demonoir, I just think Hellfire and Revelations of the Black Flame are more aggressive and frenzied, the way I likes it. Anyway, I obviously had nothing to worry about because this is an excellent, albeit short record all the way through. But you know what they say, “Always leave them wanting more.”
Everything I could ask for in a Black Metal album is here: frenzied guitar riffing, blast beats from Hell, and a deliciously evil rasping vocal from Ravn (aka Edith’s Boyfriend) who comes out swinging right away on opener “Cauldron” as do Frost (drums), Seidemann (bass), and Archaon (guitars). And this only serves as a warm-up to what is now one of my favorite songs in the entire 1349 discography “Slaves.” When this was released over the summer I know quite a few people who lost their minds; I may or may not have been one of them. Archaon coaxes some otherworldly tones from his axe and the changes in tempo only enhance the intensity. And speaking of intense, “Exorcism” is a mixture of speed and aggression that keeps this destructive horde of death marching full speed ahead. The next song, “Postmortem” does the same thing, with everything barreling down on you at once, eager to spill blood.
There’s a bit of a melodic feel underneath the aural hellfire of “Mengele’s” that definitely made this one a standout, and Ravn’s vocals border on catchy at times, believe it or not, while still retaining their bloodthirsty evilness. And holy shit, the solo on this song!! It’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-it with “Golem”, clocking in at 1:39, but that’s okay because it gets in, kicks you in the solar plexus, then gets out leaving you crumpled in pain. “Chained” has one of the more complex arrangements on the disc while also waving the flag high and clear for traditional Black Metal. As far as album closers go, “Godslayer” is nothing short of perfect. The band simply reloads their weapons for one last burst of darkness, fire, and despair, crushing everything in their path, your hope and dreams included.
After four years between albums 1349 have returned with a vengeance, and in the process constructed something truly savage and cruel in Massive Cauldron of Chaos. They have found a way to blend the old and new elements of their music while making inroads to the future. This is Norwegian Black Metal as it should be: cold, dark, and raining aural hellfire down upon thee.
STANDOUT TRACKS: ALL OF THEM