1349 – The Infernal Pathway (Season of Mist)
Review by Milos Sebalj
I bet no one in this band was on the way to kill Euronymous, right? I’m guessing they had better things to do than grovel for cheap publicity. They were busy creating actual music, often forgotten by the wannabe rock stars some guys pretend to be. And there you have the reason why this album sounds as it does.
Take into consideration the fact that the members of 1349 have a long list of appearances in a bunch of bands. Not to mention that this is already the seventh full length album by 1349 itself. And these Black Metal workaholics still sound fresh as they appeared out of nowhere just yesterday. Their brand of Thrashing Black Metal was trademarked long ago and needs no further explanation. However, the genre itself is often endangered by the heaps of boring copycats. Forcing the simplified Thrash riffing and screaming vocals on top of them is the source of many yawns of mine, so an album like this is highly welcome. Norwegians took their time (5 years since the predecessor) and delivered with serious force.
The first thing that caught my eyes is the reappearance of “Tunnel” interludes. Am I to guess this record as a continuation of “Demonoir” from 2010? Just to be sure, I reexamined it. Now, it is certainly not far from it, but who can tell? Especially since 1349 have a very recognizable style which is just slightly enriched through the hand of time. First of all, just hear the melodic underline to the chorus of “Through Eyes of Stone”. Pure brilliance! And without losing any of the ferocity this quartet is known for! Riffs are immensely diverse throughout, ranging from ice-cold primitiveness, “Immortal-ish” punchlines to Thrashing head bangers. Well-crafted too, as you cannot hear any “heard before” moments. Never afraid of intense soloing, guitars are the undisputed leaders on “The Infernal Pathway”. Fierce battering of the rhythm section is constant, even in the slower sections. Bass lines are present and have their own impact often enough while the capabilities of Frost as a drummer are well-known. “Dødskamp”, the first single to announce the album, is a gem to crown the release and clear showcase of what 1349 has in store for their fans. An epic, created as a soundtrack to the painting (of the same name) by the renowned Edvard Munch. Speaking of an epic, after the last of the “Tunnels of Set”, closing the album, is another one. “Stand Tall in Fire” is yet another example of 1349 being able to handle even the more atmospheric cosmos. Including, among the terrifying screams, some almost ritualistic clean voices (also present elsewhere, but they are shining brightest here), this song brings the aura of the gates of hell straight to your bed chambers.
Through these 44 minutes of music, you do get through a pathway. Norwegians have more than enough experience, they are skillful as they can be, yet they come to the desired goals through hard work and immense thought about what they are doing. Hence the two decades of existence and another peak to their creative effort. 1349 are not the leaders, rock stars or gatherers of juvenile credits. They are warriors on a quest! May it last long!