Recording information: Gordon Studios (02/2001-03/2001).
1349's debut album, Liberation, wraps the storied black metal history of its homeland (Norway, naturally) in a tattered cloak and vomits forth a suitably nasty set of songs drenched in "necro" aesthetics. Sure, the record doesn't break any new ground, but fans of this kind of hyperspeed, blastbeat-ridden reptilian belching will find plenty to enjoy here. The production reaches for the lo-fi garage-demo quality of early Darkthrone gargles, but accidentally on purpose sounds clear, organic, and concise, drums rattletrapping in the background, electro-distorted guitars buzzing like hordes of locusts in yer skull, craggy vocal rasps buried in the ensuing avalanche, and no bass whatsoever amidst the rubble. The songs are fairly well realized for this brand of eardrum cremation, the epitome being the harshly titled "I Breathe Spears" and the album-closing duo of "Liberation" and "Buried By Time and Dust"; "Riders of the Apocalypse" even slows down long enough for the listener to actually decipher a couple of chunky thrash riffs nipped from an old Kreator album. Blatant influences include Immortal's Battles in the North and most of the Satyricon back catalog (not a surprise, considering Satyricon drummer Frost is permanent skin-basher for 1349), and while Liberation is far from original, it is a quality black metal workout -- sans keyboards or any other goth fluff -- from a band ripe with promise, thanks to multiple shotgun blasts of chilly, misanthropic atmosphere and old-school black metal teeth-gnashing. ~ John Serba