Pass me the bottle opener…
Review by Paul Castles
Release date: 29 September 2014
The church burning antics of the Scandinavian black metal grandees are the stuff of folklore. You suspect that few of the current generation take their blasphemic responsibilities quite as seriously as their Norwegian forefathers. Perhaps the closest band around today with something approaching that searing level of conviction are 1349 whose predilection for worshipping at the steps of Satan are carved through their blackened heart. They have just played a few UK dates but unforgivably they omitted the Midlands from their schedule, leaving us to enjoy new album Massive Cauldron of Chaos but without the benefits of an accompanying live show. Having witnessed their extraordinary stageshow at Bloodstock a few years back this is cause for serious regret.
So what of the album? Well, it’s black and beastly and more than does justice to their reputation as one of the darkest and most demonic black metal acts around, with their influences stretching back to legends of the genre such as Mayhem and Celtic Frost. After the highly promising Demonoir four years ago, this latest release also hammers the rusty nail firmly into the coffin of their not entirely satisfactory experiment with a slower industrial sound, showcased in their 2008 release, Revelations of the Black Flame.
Each of the eight tracks has a single word title, ‘Cauldron’ igniting the furnace from the off with an apocalyptic explosion of evil, Ravn barking out his lyrics against a ferocious collection of riffs with Frost inflicting an early pummeling on his unfortunate drumkit. Following number ‘Slaves’ is another rapid fire aural assault while ‘Exorcism’ sees Archaon spin some head-spinning riffs. While 1349’s style has ebbed and flowed over the past couple of decades, the chaos and brutal sense of menace has rarely left their side, and that’s certainly true on Massive Cauldron of Chaos.
When they set out to make their sixth album they were after a sound more evil than ever. I know this is the case because bassist Seidemann forewarned me when I caught up with him for a chat at Bloodstock earlier in the year. 1349 weren’t actually performing at Catton Hall but Seidemann was still keen to tell anyone within earshot that …Cauldron… was going to be a metal melting pot in the real sense. I think he’s true to his word because this Beelzebub beating blastbeat will certainly send the spiders scurrying from the gothic crypts.
Postmortem does feature some slower moments but the Norwegians are reluctant to diminish the effect. This is a journey that takes you straight to the gates of hell. When you start naming tracks after one of the Nazis’ most feared and sadistic concentration camp commanders (Josef Mengele) you know the darkness is well and truly descending. ‘Mengele’s’ also features riffs of Slayer proportions while ‘Chained’ is another coffin crusher. By the time final number ‘Godslayer’ kicks in the curtain of doom has well and truly wrapped itself around you. Ravn by this point is almost half man half dog, his anguished bedeviled delivery, spewing out yet more satanic slabs of destruction.
1349 have just followed the likes of Maiden by revealing their own 1349 Black Ale brewed by the Surly Brewing Company. If it tastes as good as Massive Cauldron of Chaos sounds then pass me the bottle opener. And now that they’ve been confirmed for Bloodstock 2015, maybe we’ll all get to taste this infernal delight…