Massive Cauldron of Chaos: 1349 Live in Kansas City, MO 1/21/2016
From the frozen depths of Norway, veteran black metal group 1349 made a triumphant return to the similarly snow-covered Kansas City on Thursday night and brought as much Satanic riffing and blasphemous blastbeats as they could.
Formed in 1997, 1349 has been pretty much a mainstay in the black metal scene since the release of their debut Liberation in 2003 and the group has been solid ever since. 2004′s Beyond the Apocalypse and 2005′s Hellfire completed a trifecta of some of Norway’s heaviest, fastest and uncompromising straight-forward black metal ever – but the band has experimented with their sound in recent years. 2009′s Revelation of the Black Flame and 2010′s Demonoir were mixed by Celtic Frost frontman Tom G. Warrior and incorporate many elements of doom and atmospherics into their black metal sound and, compared to their peers, was a big step in experimentation for them.
2014 saw the release of Massive Caludron of Chaos and could be seen as a return to black metal form, while adding elements of speed metal and catchier grooves and riffing. The album made up the majority of their set Thursday night at the Riot Room, providing some of the most energetic performances of the night. “Chained” had an almost punk-like, mid-paced tempo that fit well as a break from the hyperspeed of other songs, whereas Serpentine Sibilance – the lone “slow” song in the set, plodded along with a heaviness not usually seen from bands of 1349′s ilk. The rest of the band’s discography was explored, including Riders of the Apocalypse from their debut album and three cuts off their landmark Hellfire album.
The past few times 1349 has performed in the area, it always seemed like they run into sound problems – whether it’s from the mixing not being adequate enough or entire instruments or microphones cutting out for songs at a time. The first half of opening track I Am Abomination was without guitar, but thankfully after that one small mishap, 1349 had excellent sound the rest of the performance. For a group that relies so much on clear riffing and heaviness – but only utilizes one guitarist, live mixing can be tough. But luckily, the guitar was loud and clear all throughout the venue – even the bass was audibly heavy. Vocalist Ravn was an absolute madman and replacement drummer Jon Rice did a fantastic job attempting to fill the shoes of normal drummer Frost – who is one of the best drummers of the genre. All in all, 1349 was on point in their performance and their sound and it made for one of their most enjoyable Kansas City performances so far.
Opening the show were three bands who have different sounds but somehow coalesced into the perfect trio for opening 1349′s set. First on the stage were local black metallers Nefirum, a group who seems to only get better and better as time goes on. Seemingly their last performance for a while before (hopefully) recording and releasing new music, Nefirum played a blend of melodic and raw black metal, switching between the two styles at will. It’s like Kansas City has their own homegrown Swedish black metal band. Providing direct support to 1349 were New York’s Tombs, a group that exploded in popularity a few years ago and, in my opinion, were the catalyst to launching a huge “post-black metal” sound. Utilizing keyboards and doom/post-metal sounds in their music, Tombs walked the thing line between crushingly heavy black metal and Neurosis-esque post-something. Very interesting and the combination really works.
The odd band out on the bill was Maryland’s Full of Hell – who fell right in the middle of the opening bands – and they put on probably the most memorable set of the evening. Eschewing any sort of black metal for an even more extreme form of hardcore and grindcore and blending it with harsh noise. Full of Hell wasted no time in their set performing blisteringly fast grindcore with some of the most hellish screeching vocals I’ve ever experiences, but didn’t give the audience time to react, filling the spots between songs with harsh noise coming through vocalist Dylan Walker’s thing full of pedals and switches and cables off to the side of the stage. At one point, he put something that looked like a metal box into his mouth which he screamed into and bit down on, generating even more static and noise, before launching right back into their grinding hardcore. It’s like powerviolence legends Infest read a book on Japanese noise God Merzbow and the end result is Full of Hell. Not everyone’s cup of tea – definitely my cup of tea – but easily the most strikingly memorable band of the tour.
1. I Am Abomination
3. Sculptor of Flesh
5. Riders of the Apocalypse
9. Serpentine Sibilance
10. Atomic Chapel
All photographs used in this article courtesy of the inimitable Matt Atkinson – sorry ladies, he’s taken!