For most black metal devotees the mention of 1349 conjures up images of kvlter than thou, crude production, raw, Urgehal style aggression and Belphegor-esque aesthetics. The sound is war hungry, orthodox black metal with death metal blasts and thrashy licks — a simple, albeit unmemorable, blitzkrieg cocktail no true black metal fan could complain too much about.
While 1349’s prior release, “Massive Cauldron of Chaos,” does show their progression throughout their 20 year career by emphasizing song writing, speed and melody, their most recent single, “Dødskamp” shows an even more unique growth for the band.
The song is a bit of an ode to famous Norwegian painter of “The Scream” fame, Edvard Munch. Guitarist, Archaon expressed admiration for the acclaimed painter’s dark and depressive style and named the track after Munch’s painting “Dødskamp” (which translates to death match).
Black Metal has always maintained a close relationship with fine art, as is evidenced by its dramatic aesthetic and attention to atmosphere and mood. The documentary “Until the Light Takes Us” largely takes place at a black metal themed exhibit by Norwegian artist, Bjarne Melgaard, featuring Satyricon founder and 1349 member, Frost.
His performance art alone is as grim as a kiss to the perineum, complete with fire and bloodletting. Fenriz discusses the controversial works, as well as the history of black metal, throughout the film.
Even Gaahl is a former art student and prolific painter. Although intensely private about his art, Gaahl does showcase a few of his pieces in a popular Noisey documentary. 1349 transcends mediums, however, by writing a dark hymn in honor of Dødskamp and encompassing the balance of melancholy and anxiety that characterizes Munch’s work within the complex progressions of the track.
That said, this is still 1349, in all their bullet belt steeped, raw ferocity. What we have here is a sign of true progression within the 5 years since their last release. With “Dødskamp,” 1349 has arguably become a bit more intelligent since their earlier, more image obsessed days. They’re focusing more melody and atmosphere while not deviating so far from their classic thrashy appeal they become unrecognizable.
“Dødskamp” is available for digital purchase on Bandcamp now. The 10″, including the live bonus track, “Atomic Chapel,” will be available for purchase on April 5, 2019.