I’m admittedly a bit late to the party in discovering this effort but sometimes an album crushes you so hard it’s impossible to ignore — 3 months old or not. Ukrainian war-themed blackened death metal band 1914‘s sophomore release “The Blind Leading the Blind” is memorable enough to become timeless.
The album immediately crushes the listener, opening with a machine gun riff and pummeling blast beats, fitting for the album’s war inspired theme. “The Blind Leading the Blind” has more range than the simple, yet catchy, lightening fast melodies of classic battle-driven blackened death metal; the album unfolds into various progressions that capture an unpredictable, anti-war theme.
On the overall theme of the band, front man Dmytro Kumar says he’s always been fascinated by WWI, particularly the impact it had on the Ukrainian nation — nearly destroying it in its wake. His obsession led him to study war archaeology and he’s even gone on archaeological digs.
In an interview with Echoes and Dust Magazine he says “I love films, books, stories, artifacts of this war. And no, it`s not about idealism. You cannot idealize any war – because war is always about shitty politics and bullshit propaganda, death, mud, mass graves, suffering, broken lives, despair. I just love history and this strange feeling – when you dig up a soldier, who died here 100 years ago, you sit down near these bones which once were human, with all human’s stuff – love, feelings, hope, some hobbies, maybe he was a beer lover, traveler, good musician, painter, maybe just good father or son, whose parents were waiting at home, you think – why and for what did he die? Why this fucking Homo sapiens always killing each other? I don’t know, I just don’t have an answer.”
This complex attitude on history and war shines through in the overall sound of the album. Though “The Blind Leading the Blind” has several intense moments that absolutely crush, there are progressions into slower, more emotion driven interludes and interesting samples of soldiers marching or jaunty war anthems. Staying true to their Ukrainian heritage, 1914 even includes some folk elements at times.
In many ways, “The Blind Leading the Blind” stands in a class of its own, but there are some similarities to the avant garde appeal of early Septic Flesh here — with fewer symphonic elements. The seamless, yet schizophrenic way they incorporate the cello on tracks such as “Passchenhell” definitely hearkens back to the frenzied sounds of “Communion.” But I think this band’s biggest strength is their natural sense of melody and their ability to slow and speed the tempo at just the right moments.
I particularly noticed this on the second track, entitled “A7V Mephisto,” which starts out slow and brooding only to bludgeon the listener at just the right time. The band strikes the perfect balance between plodding, melancholy bridges, dirge laden interludes and face ripping intensity. This is a band that definitely deserves more attention. As of right now, the band is only signed to a small European label called Archaic Sound, but with a second album this strikingly good, I think we expect to be hearing a lot more from 1914 in the future.