Not that the band have always stuck rigidly to some myopic interpretation of the genre’s intrinsic code; who could forget how many knickers became twisted after the release of the vehemently experimental Revelations Of The Black Flame a decade ago?
But if The Infernal Pathway proves anything, it’s that 1349 are both better at the basics than anyone else right now and still hellbent on getting weird when the time is right. If 2014’s Massive Cauldron Of Chaos was a fervent restating of old-school values, the Norwegians’ seventh album is where that spirit takes flight.
Again proving he’s one of Norwegian black metal’s most underrated figures, guitarist Archaon has conjured an overpowering blizzard of great riffs here. Perfectly pitched between arcane dissonance and the propulsive crunch of thrash and proto-death metal, songs like furious opener Abyssos Antithesis and the measured, menacing Through Eyes Of Stone are somehow raw, chaotic and wild but also muscular, precise and epic at the same time.
This feels a more sophisticated set than its predecessor, with greater use of dynamics and eerie ambient shades, but at heart 1349 remain the militant extremists they always were. Enter Cold Void Dreaming and Deeper Still are exercises in blast-driven whiteout and blasphemy, Frost’s drumming providing the evil wind
in 1349’s bloodied, leathery sails.
Elsewhere, the previously released Dødskamp begins as a restrained shuffle towards accessible gothic rock, before erupting into a more textbook display of nihilistic vitriol. Best of all, the closing Stand Tall In Fire marches towards Hell’s gates at a glowering snail’s pace, the atmosphere thick with tension. They will still take your face off from a mile away, but 1349 are still growing in stature too.
Listen to the full album below:
1349's The Infernal Pathway is available now via Season of Mist on CD, Vinyl, MP3 and streaming.
1349 tour dates 2019
Nov 30: Parma Black Winter Fest XII IT
1349 European tour dates 2020 w/ ABBATH and VLTIMAS
Jan 23: Weimar Uhrenwerk DE
Jan 24: Bochum Matrix DE
Jan 25: Nijmegen Doornroosje NL
Jan 26: Antwerpen Trix BE
Jan 27: London Islington Assembly Hall UK
Jan 28: Paris La Machine Du Moulin Rouge FR
Jan 29: Nantes Stereolux FR
Jan 30: Toulouse Metronum FR
Jan 31: Barcelona SalamandraES
Feb 01: Madrid But ES
Feb 02:Lyon Nikasi Kao FR
Feb 04: Mannheim MS Connexion Complex DE
Feb 05: München Backstage DE
Feb 06: Luzern Schüür CH
Feb 07: Parma Campus Music Industry IT
Feb 08: Brno Fleda CZ
Feb 09: Warschau Progresja PL
Feb 11: Berlin Festsaal Kreuzberg DE
Feb 12: Hamburg Kulturpalast DE
Feb 13: Copenhagen Amager Bio DK
Feb 14: Gothenburg Tradgarn SE
Feb 15: Stockholm Fryhuset Klubben SE