1349 are a very promising band who up until now have only have one previous release despite two demos before this. This could give the impression that the band are perfectionists and were waiting for the right material to unleash their particularly brutal and relentless form of Black Metal on the unsuspecting world.
In terms of atmosphere this lacks the grimness and superiority that DARKTHRONE capture, despite having that old school sound, instead 1349 go for the more war themed approach and create an atmosphere not unlike MARDUK (see "Panzer Division Marduk") in its relentless nature. In other words what we have blended here is an old school sound mixed with a more modern Black Metal approach and delivered with incredible intensity which is very pleasing to me as on first listen it worked wonders.
After many more listens the majesty remained and instrumentally speaking "Liberation" is superbly executed. The drum work is fantastic and the true spirit of Black Metal is ever apparent in the riff work and the vocals which have a sort of Satyr feel to them as they have a sort of raspy effect on them like he used on SATYRICON's latest offering "Volcano".
The production lets this down slightly as although it undoubtedly black I must question why bands choose to imitate DARKTHRONE's production when very rarely can they match it atmospherically. The guitars are played too fast for the production and often riffs can get lost inside a wall of buzzing noise, which is a shame because the majority of the riffs on this (those that I can hear anyway) are fantastic and definitely get your head nodding in the right way. The MAYHEM cover is fantastic and takes you back to the good old days when MAYHEM were still good and at large. In fact this version is a definite improvement on the original as the vocalist here is actually good!
The most immediate influences that become apparent would be the likes of old MAYHEM and DARKTHRONE with a good bit of MARDUK and DARK FUNERAL added in and I guess if this sounds like your thing then you won't be disappointed. I have read that there are those who love this and those who find it overrated and therefore are disappointed in it. Personally my opinion is somewhere in the middle as although this has been hyped to be the next big thing in Black Metal it is still lacking in any fresh ideas which means that I have heard this all before. The good news however is that it is almost as good as anything I have heard before!
If you want something new, original and fresh then go elsewhere. But if you are a die hard and love all things black and evil and just want some more of those riffs and another piece of that grim war like feeling then this is a perfect addition to your collection and one that should not be overlooked. (Online June 28, 2003)