26 April 2010
by Tom Dare
Sweet unholy Satan, where the fuck did this come from? When did 1349 get anywhere near capable of making a record like this? They’ve made some good records, yes, but nothing that grabs you by the crotch and leads you on such a vicious crusade to scourge all that is light and good from the world in the way Demonoir does.
After three steadily improving releases- none of which genuinely shone, but which did the job nicely enough- 1349 looked to have nosedived dramatically with last year’s Revelations Of the Black Flame. It sounded like an attempt to go all ambient and sinister- an attempt that resulted in a dull quagmire of muddy distortion that was frankly bollocks. Well, given the flat reception that received, the band appear to have studied at the Marduk school of comebacks- if you’re a black metal band and things aren’t going well, turn in the most scathing, vicious and vile record you can. Demonoir does exactly that – but rather than being just a simplistic barrage of blast beats and riffs that cut to the bone (although both are here in great number), this is actually a bit more cunning than all that.
Before and after every track proper on the album are the ‘Tunnels of Set’– little intros or interludes generally around a minute long, very much in the manner of the Revelations material, only this time they are actually good. These dark, gloomy passages are initially a blessed relief given the harrowing thrill of the songs proper, but while they are much less heavy, they quickly become just as unpleasant and oppressive as everything else. It’s a bit like having the thumbscrews taken off only to be water-boarded.
The lengthy tracks themselves are, for the most part, proper, traditional black metal – chaotic, unpredictable song structures, icy sheet-metal riffing and venomous vocals on top of ferocious drumming. Frost once again takes on the job of breaking drumsticks, but unlike the other release to bear his name this year (Ov Hell’s fine but flawed The Underworld Regime) he appears to have far more to work with – the anarchic brutality that would have been inappropriate for his work with King and Shagrath is precisely what is needed here. Blast beats and double bass kicks abound and you immediately realise what has been missing on the last few Satyricon releases. He hasn’t sounded like he’s enjoying himself this month since he and Attila Csihar got together with Keep Of Kalessin for an EP seven years and nine records ago.
Watch us irritate the fuck out of Frost, drummer with 1349, at Bloodstock 2009:
This is the sound of resurgent, furious hordes of demons sweeping out of hell bent on directionless destruction and villainy. It sweeps you along in its wake, causing your loins to tighten and your pulse to race, and at the exact moment you think you can take no more, the superb doom-laden title track at the end ramps your tension up even higher – and then, like a nightmare of untold horrors that you secretly derived great pleasure from, it is gone.
In a year that has been pretty good for black metal already so far, nothing that is such brilliant filth as this has come along. As far as horrifically nasty black metal records, Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult’s Saldorian Spell comes close, but can neither manage to be as evil nor as good as Demonoir. That they have injected the ambient interludes that failed so dramatically last time out and made them work on this opus only adds to the achievement.
Sounds like: Marduk, Mayhem, horror, sickness and depravity
Top tracks: Atomic Chapel, The Devil Of The Desert, Demonoir
1349 – Demonoir tracklisting:
Tunnels of Set – I
When I Was Flesh
Pandemonium War Bells
The Devil Of The Deserts