Sometimes I wonder if they will make 1349-bashing an Olympic sport, it seems there's plenty practising it. It particularly seems to be a favourite past-time of some of the “purists” and whilst no one can be made to like music, I think far too many go out of their way to dislike bands like this. Personally, if I don't like a band, I've got far too little time to dwell upon it, I'd rather be seeking out those that might peek my interest.
As it happens, I've never had a problem with 1349 and I enjoy a considerable amount of material from all their albums, even from “Revelations...” I can also reveal that there will be no major complaints during the reviewing of “Demonoir,” other than the fact that you can take your “Tunnels” and shove them where the sun don't shine. Let's get these interludes out of the way now, there's nothing inherently wrong with them and they're all short enough not to intrude too much, it's just that they're ultimately pointless but rather than being annoying, they merely niggle and don't really come anywhere near to derailing this steam-hissing loco.
Some have stated that there's very little Black Metal on this album, well fuck my boots, if you can give me a definitive answer as to what the bounds of Black Metal are nowadays, I'll present you with an orifice of your choosing to do with what you will. 1349 have always incorporated various aspects of other genres into their sound and “Demonoir" is no different, so elements of Thrash and Death Metal willy-waves throughout, none more so than the screaming guitar solo during “Psalm 7:77” and as far as I'm concerned it fits perfectly within the song, especially with its blazing riffs blinding like a gang of louts with lazers. This track also demonstrates the bands propensity for getting a rattle on which will please you lovers of the fleet, there are also the slower sections 1349 apply liberally for those of you that can't keep up at the back.
“Demonoir” further introduces other elements that add more texture to the predominant rapidity and the dark eddies that intersperse the froth. There's nothing that anyone would class as revolutionary but these shades are effective and more often than not open new ground for 1349, deep throaty intonations mock the spike of the guitar on “Atomic Chapel” and clean croons wrap velvet around a furiously tanking bass on “When I Was Flesh.” These prime examples of the devices that are utilised on the album are by no means unique and have clearly been thought through to the benefit of one and all. Of course the staples are still there, frantic Thrash edged rhythm guitar and barbed wire lead work prevails and Ole Frosty Bollocks lets rip at every available opportunity, whack-a-moling on crack whenever the pace ups to 1349's favoured fury.
There's ample evidence that 1349 are trying to vary the theme and if that means borrowing from outside the genre then so be it, certainly some of the nuance would sit happily in the lap of a number of extremes. That's really how this album should be judged, to me it's Black Metal but if it makes some of the gainsayers less puffy, lets just call it Extreme Metal, suit yourselves. Some label 1349 as boring, that's their opinion, I don't. That said, I do find the title track a tad tedious and its placing at the end of the album doesn't help.
I rather suspect that those that want to take pot shots at “Demonoir” have missed the boat. 1349 again succeed in leaving flames in their wake, only this time the tricksy fuckers are blowing smoke rings too.
(Online September 17, 2010)