1914 – Where Fear and Weapons Meet Review

If I said that a new 1914 album is a big deal for me, it would be a huge understatement. The band’s 2018 opus The Blind Leading the Blind was one of the first records I covered for this site—and my first 4.0.1 I was still a probationary writer at the time, and as a brand new music journalist, watching the metalverse collectively lose its mind over what 1914 accomplished on that record was a surreal and humbling experience. The way that the band managed to perfectly merge their theme and their music resonated with people, and it didn’t take long for the band to get noticed and snatched up by Napalm Records. While watching great bands move to big labels is usually a bit concerning, I wasn’t worried. 1914 have already demonstrated that they are consummate pros with a clear strategic objective, and I would have been shocked if 2021 follow-up Where Fear and Weapons Meet was anything less than great. Spoiler alert: it’s better than great.

While the 1914 sound has evolved even further on Where Fear and Weapons Meet, it’s apparent that the band has a unique approach to songwriting that is instantly recognizable. The Bolt Thrower and Asphyx comparisons from The Blind Leading the Blind still hold up, but this time they’re allied with the groove-filled melodeath of Amon Amarth and the ominous symphonic approach of Septicflesh—and once again, a blackened glaze is drizzled over the top of it all. But even with these new textures, press play on embedded single “Pillars of Fire (The Battle of Messines),” and you’ll instantly know what band you’re listening to. The classic 1914 war sample gives way to a gigantic symphonic blackened death intro, and the rest of the song strikes the perfect balance between aggression and atmosphere, leaving our ears ringing as a subterranean detonation from the titular battle resonates across the field. The distinctive storytelling cadence of vocalist Dymtro Kumar is as effective as ever, his growls and shrieks seeming even more powerful this time around.

Where Fear and Weapons Meet is a masterpiece, a thematically and musically cohesive work of art comprised of tracks that proudly stand on their own unique merits. In standard 1914 fashion, “War In” sets the stage, this time in the form of a Serbian song from the era whose pleasing melody predictably devolves into chaos and horror as we witness the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand and his wife. “FN .380 ACP#19074” follows, taking us inside the mind of the 19-year-old assassin with its mournful tremolos and orchestral swells. “Vimy Ridge (In Memory of Filip Konowal)” is pure grooving, bludgeoning death metal, and “Mit Gott für König und Vaterland” grinds us down with a barrage of blackened fury. By now, most of you have probably heard the immense death/doom single “…And a Cross Now Marks His Place” featuring Paradise Lost vocalist Nick Holmes, but it’s taken to a whole new level of brutality on the record when it follows “Coward,” a ballad performed by Ukrainian folk musician Sasha Boole that chronicles the dreadful fate of a British deserter. Together, the duo form the album’s heartbreaking middle.

A listen to 1914’s debut, Eschatology of War, demonstrates that the band has strong roots in sludge metal, and while the modern-day 1914 sound may be more polished and melodic, with few overt traces of sludge remaining, those roots still inform everything that they do. Everything on Where Fear and Weapons Meet is saturated with a sense of sheer density. The regal symphonic death/doom of “Corps d’Autos-Canons-Mitirailleuses (A.C.M.),” the melodic black/death of “Don’t Tread on Me (Harlem Hellfighters),” the scathing black metal of the aforementioned “Mit Gott für König und Vaterland”—they’re all undergirded by a huge wall of sound that exponentially increases the heaviness quotient. And just to show that they can still sludge if they want to, the album’s last proper track is an absolutely filthy rendition of “The Green Fields of France,” a folk song by Eric Bogle—and famously covered by Dropkick Murphys—that speculates about the fate and motivations of fallen WWI soldier Willie McBride. The song’s sludgy intro, blackened middle, and electro-industrial doom finale close the album on a devastating note, the final blast reverberating for a full forty seconds as it bores straight into the listener’s soul.

I’m sure some people won’t be sold on the band’s more polished approach this time around, but then again, some people wouldn’t know good music if it clubbed them over the head with a spade. If The Blind Leading the Blind left any doubt whatsoever, Where Fear and Weapons Meet firmly places 1914 at the vanguard of the modern extreme metal scene. These guys conjure more foreboding atmosphere than a thousand other death/doom bands combined, and they do so while writing memorable songs filled with memorable moments. This is easily one of the most excellent albums of 2021, and potentially one of my favorites of all time.

Rating: 4.5/5.0
DR: ? | Format Reviewed: An Inconvenient Stream
Label: Napalm Records
Websites: x1914x.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/1914band
Releases Worldwide: October 22nd, 2021

Show 1 footnote

  1. And the beginning of a tortured, tragic history of chronic overratings, bringing eternal shame upon our beloved blogsite. – Steel
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