Leaves no lasting impression on the listener
1349’s “Hellfire” comes just a year after their 2004 release, “Beyond the Apocalypse.” That’s a pretty tough act to follow, seeing as how “Beyond the Apocalypse” was my favorite black metal album of 2004 and possibly the best black metal release from a relatively new band playing an old-school style. That can partially be attributed to the band’s drummer, Frost, who is also a part of the legendary Satyricon. He is joined by vocalist Ravn, guitarists Archaon and Tjalve, and bassist Seidemann to round off the group. I delved into “Hellfire” with extremely high hopes of another black metal masterpiece. Unfortunately I may have been a bit overly optimistic.
“Hellfire” isn’t a bad album by any means. Each member is solid in delivering their respective parts. Frost is a machine as always on the skins and sometimes Ravn sounds possessed. But what the band seems to have done is taken a step back quality-wise from their previous efforts. This is their third full-length release, and usually bands are expected to progress and mature musically as they release more material, slowly growing into something great. 1349 may have peaked too soon, because Hellfire sounds relatively uninspired. The intensity level is no where near what was reached on “Hellfire Club.” Instead 1349 seem to have taken a slightly technical approach towards a lot of their riffs. They don’t sound terrible, but they take away from the music’s raw, pummeling aspects.
I’m afraid 1349 fans are going to be disappointed by this release. It gets the job done, but leaves no lasting impression on the listener. A wiser option would be to investigate a band called Pantheon I – a black metal project that is led by Tjalve and also features Seidemann. Their material packs more of a punch than this new 1349 release does.
I don’t want to come off as being too harsh – if one were to objectively look at this album without having heard anything from 1349 before, they wouldn’t think it half bad. I’m going to give it a decent rating because that’s what it objectively deserves, despite the fact that subjectively it may prove to be quite disappointing.