Trigger the Boredom
1349 headline the Underworld in London's Camden Town, Wednesday 19th November 2014
by: Paul Schwarz
It's not even damning with faint praise to say that going to see any band was more eventful than the pint or two you had down the Dev beforehand. To say that you preferred the music there? That could be an indictment of a number of things, but let's not get into that more than we have to.

To cut to the chase, 1349 are a black metal band who need velocity, impact: they need to get up in your face and convince you that if this wasn't pretend, your neck would get snapped. Honestly unsure what the facts are, the strongest initial feeling as we walk in the Underworld to 1349 already into their first song (five minutes early at twenty-five past nine) is, 'Weren't there five of these guys? Weren't there two guitars? Hang on, you did that silly jokey 'interview' with them for a thing once, you know what they look like! You saw one of them at Springsteen in Oslo, second night, for Pete's sake! If someone can be recognisable from a crowd that size on no sleep, you can at least pick him out of a line-up of four on a stage with only a few ill-placed supporting columns to obscure your view... Wait: corpsepaint! I have no fuckin' idea -- no glasses, too unpleasantly loud to go any closer.'

1349 look silly like black metal will to any random walking off the street, but arresting? Tonight neither sight nor sound of 1349 does much to make one feel. At first it's a letdown, later it's frustrating: leaving early is entertained. It becomes somehow fascinating, provokes thought, discussion and some degree of derision and ridicule later, but mainly it's just a bore, truth be told. The big problem is the sound of the drums. Triggered snare and triggered kick are not the way to make "live black metal", whatever that really means for a genre founded on Bathory and propelled into commercially viable form by the infamy and resulting sales of Burzum, both quintessential bedroom bands. 1349's brand of black metal needs you to hear the little touches: here they are buried under over-loud and more than a little grating, monotonic triggered samples of bass-drum and snare -- way too many of both, to be honest.

The cover of Voivod's "Tornado" included as a bonus track on their latest full-length -- which is passable musically but blessed by 1349's most distinctive album art, echoes of Rick Veitch's captivating work on "Swamp Thing" amplifying its appeal (DUB now wears a T-shirt with "MCoC" as a hair print) -- suggests that embracing a broader identity for themselves, leaving BM behind in terms of its tropes, its terms, its expectations (think of how Enslaved can today express themselves, think of the freedom -- also recall how hard won it was, how much hard work and how many difficult albums). Essentially, if 1349 have still got the balls to put out a record called _Massive Cauldron of Chaos_, this writer at least is not ready to write them off, but St. John Satansson won't be paying to see them live anytime soon.

(article submitted 29/3/2015)


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