(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
Liberation (2003), 6.5/10
Beyond The Apocalypse (2004), 5.5/10
Hellfire (2005), 6.5/10
Revelations Of The Black Flame (2009), 5/10
Demonoir (2010), 5/10

Marduk's blazing style of black metal was continued by groups such as Norway's 1349 with the raw no-frills lightning-speed attack of Liberation (2003).

Manifest opens with drilling noise and a sort of acrobatic rock'n'roll before the ritual attack of blast and groan takes hold. The disorderly conduct of I Breathe Spears, highlighted by spleen-imbued breaks and a grand finale of frantic strumming, leads to the geometric panzer-like pace of Riders Of The Apocalypse, with a quasi-melodic chorus and a propulsive riff before it loses control and mutates several times in a few seconds. An acoustic overture and a superhuman scream launch the doom-laden atmosphere of Satanic Propaganda. The intensity increases exponentially with Pitch Black, a super-fast piece in which a god-like voice towers over the angst-filled spasm, and with Evil Oath, an even faster eruption of beastly instincts. And Buried By Time & Dust closes the proceedings with a blast of pure gothic frenzy. Far from being a pure exercise in brutal noise, this album is full of nuances and subtleties that up the ante for the entire genre. Unfortunately the best idea is barely sketched: the modulated boogie pattern of Deathmarch.

Better produced but hardly any more original, Beyond The Apocalypse (2004) featured one less predictable song, Singer Of Strange Songs.

Hellfire (2005) was less vibrant than the first album, its appeal deriving from the combination of better recording quality and dynamic variety. I Am Abomination seems to stumble into syncopation and indecision while it tries to launch into hellish gallop. Sculptor Of Flesh opens with a mini-concerto of blastbeats before surrendering the show to a sexy guitar. The last five pieces are tours de force, as far as black metal goes. At almost eight minutes of duration Celestial Deconstruction has time to experiment with different tempo shifts and convoluted polyphony while progressing towards its exhausting ending. From The Deeps dabbles in different variations of quasi-melodic and quasi-progressive passages and, again, seems to have only one goal: self-exhaustion. To Rottendom takes a few minutes to develop an identity but, when it does, it is one of the most infernal of the collection. By comparison, the straightforward fibrillation of Slaves To Slaughter sounds relaxing. There is more of a narrative dimension to this album than to the previous ones, and less of a sensationalistic pagan homicidal assault. To top it all, the 14-minute Hellfire, the band's crowning achievement, is a bold experiment in wedding ambient shoegazing guitar music and blasting metal of the blackest quality.

However, the truculent meandering ambience of Revelations Of The Black Flame + Works Of Fire Live (Deluxe) (Candlelight, 2009) marked a disappointing retreat from the beastly fury of those albums.

Demonoir (2010) returned them to their black-metal roots, with blastbeats and all, but it was rather repetitive, marred by pointless (if fashionable) ambient interludes.

Den Saakaldte was a black-metal supergroup of sorts (Seldemann of 1349, Kvarforth of Shining and Diabolicum, S. Winter of Aeternus, Skyellg of Naer Mataron and Paradigma, Jormundgand of Dodheimsgard) that debuted with Ol Morke Og Depresjon (Eerie Art, 2009).

(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)

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(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
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