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Liberation (2003)

1349 appears to be one of the more popular bands to emerge from Norway in recent years. The reason for this is quite unknown. One listen to their debut effort, 2003's Liberation, is proof enough that the fires of old school black metal have truly been extinguished in Norway. No amount of well-known musicians or big labels can make up for lack of quality.

One word can sum up everything that is wrong with this album: modern. Here one can find a mixture of influences that are forced together, awkwardly, with no real direction and a total lack of focus. So much of the material is played at hyper-speed for no other reason than to be fast. Despite the high tempo, there is absolutely no sense of aggression or urgency to these parts. Worse still, the drumming dominates the entire album. Frost's performance here is completely over-the-top and just a masturbatory display of technical skill with no thought to what would best benefit the compositions. To make matters more unbearable, his overactive percussion is far too high in the mix and distracts from the rest.

The songwriting is not utterly terrible, though mostly generic. None of the guitar melodies are given any real time to play out or to breathe, shifting from one pointless riff to the next. There is absolutely no atmosphere to be found on this album. One can detect bits of old school influences, which would be a good thing if not for the fact that they float around as fragments of what once was, in a sea of modernity. The best song on here is a cover of Mayhem's "Buried by Time and Dust", and they completely butcher it and render it lifeless and bereft of the morbid feeling possessed by the original.

Liberation is a good example of modern 'extreme metal'. The original material clocks in around thirty-five minutes and it must not have taken much longer than that to write this simplistic nonsense. 1349 fail to create an atmosphere of darkness or to convey any evil feeling, whatsoever. This is just more watered-down, easy-to-digest kiddie trash, masquerading as black metal. It requires more than fast playing, spikes and corpse paint to be black metal, and these guys really missed the mark. Avoid this.
(2 Mar. 2015)

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