1349- Massive Cauldron of Chaos (Indie Recordings)

1349 takes on a blackened thrash sound, but does it work?
Release Date: 
29 Sep 2014 (All day)

Fans of black metal can certainly be a fickle bunch. If a band steps outside the accepted conventions of the genre, there’s likely to be a legion of fans ready to call them out as sell-out poseurs for changing, irrespective of the quality of the new material. This certainly seems to be the situation Norway’s 1349 have gotten themselves into. Starting in 1997, the band released a decent EP and two similarly decent albums before striking a particularly strong atonal note with 2005’s Hellfire. Hellfire was an uber-vicious 21st century spin on Scandinavia’s second wave of black metal and scratched the itch of many a staunch kvltist. However, on the band’s next album, 2009’s Revelations of the Black Flame, they committed the most grievous of black metal sins: they changed.

That album, as well as follow up 2010’s Demonoir experimented with dark ambient, embracing the use of quieter passages and eerie atmospherics. All things considered, it was an interesting direction for the band to take, but fanboys were livid with this new direction and many turned away from the band as a result. Which leads us to this album, Massive Cauldron of Chaos. The question in the four years since Demonoir has been “what direction would new 1349 material take”? Would the band further explore their dark ambient approach, or would they kowtow to the naysayers and return to their roots?

Surprisingly, or perhaps unsurprisingly, the band chose to change again.

The first thing you’ll notice about Massive Cauldron of Chaos is that the ambient elements of the last few albums have been completely removed. Yet this is no Hellfire redux, instead 1349 have adopted a more blackened thrash sound, which is honestly quite a shrewd way for them to strip back their sound without repeating themselves.

Opening with Cauldron, we’re introduced to a new 1349. The riffs here are sharp and immediate, the drums don’t sound as if they were performed by a machine, all in all, it’s the most stripped back the band have sounded since their early days. Now there’s likely to be a number of people disappointed with this dialling back of the more expansive elements of 1349’s sound, but the bands new direction happens to fit like a glove. Prime cuts like Postmortem and Godslayer show a real grasp of this style and in a year where decent black/thrash albums have been sparse, this is a welcome surprise.

At roughly 39 minutes long, each of the album’s 8 songs maintains a consistent quality. Ultimately your satisfaction with Massive Cauldron of Chaos is going lie with how much you enjoyed their previous sound. Compromise can be a bitch but 1349 managed to pull it off in this reviewers eyes.