1349 – Hellfire

Norway’s 1349 have pulled off what is referred to in the sports world as a “three-peat.” With Hellfire, the band has created three excellent albums in three consecutive years, something that is rare in today’s metal scene. While it’s not a stylistic departure, 1349 continue to hone their style of raging, attacking black metal here. Perhaps one of the strongest aspects of the album is the strong sense of atmosphere regardless of a song’s pace. There’s no doubting that it possesses a dark, grim and intense character. Another strong point that is readily apparent is that 1349 have been able to capture that unique mystique and spirit of the classic Norwegian black metal albums. Powered by the ungodly engine that is Frost (also in SATYRICON) on drums, the rest of the band rip and tear through Hellfire’s eight tracks. It’s not all about speed as the majestic “Nathicana” and cavernous “Celestial Deconstruction” display the band mixing things up with slower tempos. Album closer, “Hellfire,” really brings it all home. Beginning with a brooding crescendo of keyboards and burning embers, the band comes in with blasting intensity which then evolves into cascading walls of sound that don’t let up for close to 14 minutes. The production is excellent with a well balanced drum sound, necro guitars/bass, and Ravn’s raspy vocals layered on top. The thought of 1349 pulling off a four-peat is quite exciting. Let’s put it this way: If you don’t like Hellfire, perhaps this is not the genre for you. (Candlelight Records)

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