Nordic black metal killers 1349 lick hell’s flames all over with crushing ‘The Infernal Pathway’

Photo by Dmitry Valberg

Black metal always has centered on hell, which makes a lot of sense. The evil and torturous elements of existence always have been a part of the sub-genre, as if it makes up the very nature of its DNA, and the threat of eternal damnation (if you buy the Bible version) or a place where one’s heathen instincts finally can have a place to reign surely, um, ignites the music’s fire.

For many years now, 1349 have been a purveyor of this style, and they’ve been one of the most consistent bands of any brand of metal. Live, they’re an utter beast, and their records have smothered senses, with their “Hellfire” and “Beyond the Apocalypse” standing as black metal pillars. By the way, the much-maligned “Revelations of the Black Flame” needs to be revisited. It’s long been a favorite of mine, and it needs to be one of yours. Anyway, 1349 have returned after a five-year break with “The Infernal Pathway,” an album that lathers with flames and is one of their most intense records in a good while. Dumb shits got all worked up over the style of “Dødskamp” just because it wasn’t 1000 percent ferocity, but black metal doesn’t always have the most reasonable listeners. That track is on here, by the way, but the record reinjects some serious savagery that the band—vocalist Ravn, guitarist Archaon, bassist Seidemann, drummer Frost—hasn’t shown in this manner in a while, as it feels like they went for broke and lunged right for the throat. This is a fucking monster.

“Abyssos Antithesis” gets the record off to a sort of misleading start, as the guitars hint as a looser rock n roll approach before things switch on a dime, and the band begins to thrash away with violent intensity. Ravn’s vocals swirl through the madness, as the band lays down the hammer in a way they haven’t in quite some time, smashing and scraping against the opposition, seeking to taste blood.  “Through Eyes of Stone” continues that assault and works to extract a submission from its victims, as the band lathers in hellish intensity. The chorus is devastating, with Ravn wailing, “Surrendering this mortal flesh,” on the back end, while the track keeps loosening teeth before coming to a devastating end. “Tunnel of Set VIII” (these tracks date back to the “Demonoir” album) is an ambient interlude that sounds like it was recorded in a hellish basement, and that leads into “Enter Cold Void Dreaming” that drubs from the start. The vocals over the verses are creaky while the guitars rage with black metal intensity over the bridge, leasing to a ferocious chorus, where the title of the track is spat out. The intensity is amplified while the leads smear, coming to a spine-crunching end. “Towers Upon Towers” has dizzying guitar work that walks zombie-style into crazed punishment that scrambles that meal of brains. Another powerful chorus erupts, the guitars go off, and warbling, detached speaking gives the track as ghostly feel it maintains to its grisly, abrupt end.

“Tunnel of Set IX” is the second of three interludes, this one swimming through noise banks while the sounds break overhead and right into the mouth of “Deeper Still” where Ravn greets you with the command of, “Fall to me!” The track thrashes and splatters its way toward you, as strange vocals slither, and the guitars rip out guts. An unexpected push of melody adds a swath of new colors to the mix, while the track comes to a blistering finish. “Striding the Chasm” rages out of the gates with fast verses that get your blood flowing and a concise chorus where Ravn simply howls, “Striding the chasm!” which would be easy to hammer back live. The gas pedal is pushed again, this time jamming it into the floor as the band creates havoc with soloing lighting the world on fire, the tempo galloping, and the chorus revisited before the track is swallowed into a void. “Dødskamp” is taken from the band’s Edvard Munch tribute track released earlier this year, and it has a more streamlined feel before the wheels are torn off. “I can no longer see where chaos ends and I begin!” Ravn cries, as the band continues to unload the lumber. “Death feeding life, death feeding death,” Ravn calls as the track continues to smother before ending in a pile of ash. “Tunnel of Set X” is the final interlude, scraping along with fires rumbling and entering into closer “Stand Tall in Fire” that pulls things back a bit, driving in calculated manner as they turn the screws. Weird speaking rolls as a more rock-style approach is used, with Ravn calling, “Release your soul!” He follows that up by the demand to unleash your spirit as the track fires up, and soloing tears things apart. The pace ignites again as Ravn howls to “lay naked by the flame,” as the song comes to a massive end complete with mechanical screams.

For more than two decades now, 1349 have been one of black metal’s most notorious warriors, burning fires that have not even come close to being extinguished. “The Infernal Pathway” is their hellacious tribute to the darkest, most foreboding elements of existence, and it absolutely bathes in its juices. This is a powerful, savage document from one of black metal’s most consistent forces.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/1349official/

To buy the album, go here (North America): https://shopusa.season-of-mist.com/

Or here (International): https://shop.season-of-mist.com/

For more on the label, go here: http://www.season-of-mist.com/

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