1349 - Massive Cauldron of Chaos 01Since 1997, 1349 has evolved a lot. And I mean a lot. They’ve changed so much that their musical career can only be compared to driving down the freeway at 70 miles per hour and hitting black ice. First, you accelerate along the on-ramp (Liberation and Beyond the Apocalypse), until you achieve top speed (Hellfire). When you come upon the ice, it sends you into uncontrollable spins (Revelations of the Black Flame) that you miraculously manage to steer free from. From there only the occasional patch causes some gentle fishtailing (Demonoir) as you speed down the road. While there are fans of 1349’s latest experimentations, there’s no denying the broadside Revelations…had on its die hard fans (this writer being one of them). So how does the road look ahead for 1349? Will they dive deeper into the blackness and weirdness of their latest albums or will they turn back to the chaotic frenzy of their days of yore?

The answer is (of course) none of the above. Instead, 1349 has chosen to take advice from the friendly trucker at the roadside café. When you begin to fishtail, your only option is to drive faster. At first glance, the album title and artwork make it immediately apparent that 1349 intends to push the envelope again. When you line up all their albums of reds, oranges, yellows, and blacks for comparison with the white of Massive Cauldron of Chaos, you get the sense that Ravn and company are giving you the finger. More than ever, this album suggests to all listeners that it is futile to assume you know what 1349 will do next. And while Massive Cauldron of Chaos is a stupid title, there really is no better way to describe what lies in these eight tracks (nine, if you get the Voivod cover). This is basically a stew of ingredients of old and new, with a variety of their favorite influences and blackened sub-genres mixed in for spice.

“Cauldron” opens the album with some classic 1349 aggression and savagery; nothing new here, just solid 1349. After this warmup, things really get interesting.“Slaves” utilizes everything from black-thrash to a midsection Bathory-like interlude, to some Demonoir spoken word segments. Frost’s assault is devastating on the ears and Ravn spews forth his classic raspiness (even though his vocals are layered here with the same stupid effects as in Revelations…).

1349 - Massive Cauldron of Chaos 02

“Exorcism” expands on this formula with some modern Darkthrone riffage, Watain-like atmosphere, and even some soloing (a better solo can be found in“Mengele’s”), while the kickass “Postmortem” showcases Archaon shredding some early Slayer and Toxic Holocaust thrash (checkout the badass riff at 2:30). But the real standout tracks are saved for the end of MCoC. Not only is the spine of “Chained” tapped by a black ‘n’ roll gavel, but it also pleads guilty to riff thievery from Satyricon’s “Mother North.” It also utilizes some Enslaved-esque atmospheric textures and the bass lead by Seidemann is stellar. Similarly, closing track “Godslayer”is all about modern Enslaved (as well as a little Volcano-era Satyricon thrown in for good measure). Ravn belts out “gawwwwdslaaaayeeeerrr” with the kind of urgency only Grutle could make convincing. Even though the song is a little repetitive, it brings order to the Chaos before signing off for good.

Massive Cauldron of Chaos is definitely another transition in the 1349 sound and will inevitably split the fanbase again. However, MCoC is perhaps the most mature of the 1349 discog. Not only is it a crisp 38 minutes, but it sports a magnificent DR8 production. The dynamics open up the album beautifully, allowing the chaos to be both warm and accessible. The punishment that the bass and drums bring to MCoC would be completely lost with a louder production.

While initially shocking, this new direction seems obvious when compared to hints laid in Demonoir tracks like “Psalm 7:77” and “The Devil of the Desert.” Unfortunately, a lot of this has been done before and it lacks that originality and impact of their earlier work. But if you’re looking for some of the old speed and chaos of early 1349 – with a few twists – this album is for you. [But why do they look like the Baseball Furies from The Warriors? Steel Druhm].

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Indie Recordings
Websites: Legion1349Official | Facebook.com/1349official
Release Dates: EU: 2014.09.29 | NA: 10.21.2014

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  • AndySynn

    Oh, you bastard… this is pretty much my review in a nutshell… even down to stuff like:

    “While initially shocking, this new direction seems obvious when compared to hints laid in Demonoir tracks like “Psalm 7:77” and “The Devil of the Desert.”

    Which is EXACTLY what I was thinking. Damn your eyes.

    Also… “Godslayer” is a fan-fucking-tastic closer.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Sorry about that, I have an uncanny ability to read minds. My bad… Agreed, “Godslayer” is sick.

  • RF2000

    I still very much enjoy Revelations *ducks*

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      It’s ok, I don’t hate you.

    • AndySynn

      Me too! High five!

  • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

    Great review. I don’t know what I wanted or expected from this album, but this gets me excited, especially “old speed and chaos”. I wanted to like their experimentation, but Revelations was bad and I couldn’t get into Demonoir at all. Hellfire’s their best IMO, but this one sounds promising.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      I completely agree with you. You won’t LOVE this new album but you’ll like it.

      • That should have your closer. Money line right there. Instead, you get the set of steak knives.

        • Dr. A.N. Grier

          Dammit…. But what am I going to do with ANOTHER set of steak knives?

  • Excentric_1307

    I have a theory about those vocals: I saw these guys live as a part of the Metal Alliance Tour. It may have been all the touring but Ravn’s vocals were seriously weak, especially on the high screams. It was extremely noticeable that every time he went to do something vocally extreme, his volume would just plummet. I don’t think he can do it anymore. I noticed that at least on the sample track posted here he doesn’t even try any of the high stuff.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Bummer. Yeah, he seems to use a decent amount of effects here, like on the last couple albums. His most convincing vocal performance is “Godslayer.”

  • DrChocolate

    That 100% accurate Warriors reference had me rolling. “I’ll shove that bat up your ass and turn you into a popsicle.”

  • Edgar Allan Bro

    Sometimes you just want some straightforward, no fuckin around, fast and loud metal.

    Digging it.

  • Brian Kelly

    i dunno if its because of being on youtube, but that song sounds like the blastbeats are too pronounced in the mix, the guitars arent very audible at all, and the vocals are farther in the background too. unless thats just how they want it, ive never listened to them before. but the youtube version at least doesnt sound very good sonic-ally.

    it also feels like the constant talk of production on this website is like a college freshman who thinks he knows everything, but in reality knows nothing or next to nothing, where someone could label a cd “dr8” production and the reviewer would go crazy for that and say its great, but in reality it was the exact opposite production, and the reviewer doesnt actually know that but just praises it because its what he thinks is correct.

    • The above is potentially a fair criticism, but citing YouTube as the basis to judge the quality of a record’s production seems even more misguided.