Hailing from the Ukraine, this black, death and doom act released their debut just a few years ago and it's definitely still worth checking out today. This was a personal submission that I had not expected, featuring a very interesting way of looking at war. Now the war by which this album is centered on is the bloodiest one we've ever had, and that would be World War I. It was so barbaric that it's surprising it ever warranted a sequel. In any case, the most interesting thing I find about this band outside from their crushing metal outputs is their “dare we call them atmosphere” pieces. Often a very popular song for the time would begin to play from a scratched record or an old vinyl, and then suddnely fill with the sounds of warfare. I may have said this before, but if anyone ever decided to make a music genre made of classic songs from the forties and the sounds of battle, I would become a quick fan of it. Aside from that, these guys certainly know their grime. The record feels often carnivorous, terribly morose and uncomfortable and even quite horrific in the vein of Cpt. John B. Kumar's vocal expressions. Lt. Serge Russel's drumming was heavily felt in both “Gasmask” and “Frozen In Trenches” as it really brought a paramount degree of force and fire. Yet in “Verdun” the band takes a much different approach altogether, which is slow and melodic courtesy of Sgt. Andrew Knifeman and Pvt. Liam Fissen. Said piece even fills heavy with majestic choirs. The entire album places you dead center into the middle of European warfare, in possibly one of the most realistic ways that metal can do. If you watched a WWI documentary while listening to this album, you may even feel as if you're there. Word has it that Tolkien wrote some of his books down in those muddy trenches, and the world of modern fantasy has him to thank for making it out in one piece.
I'm actually hearing a lot of God Dethroned here, which is quite peculiar as they've also done their war epics, and actually went out doing them. The difference here is that there is definitely more of a fiery black metal edge to the performance than that of the death metal pummelers, which adds a much different feeling to these songs of warfare. Also, God Dethroned's work with similar material felt much cleaner than this record, which has a gritty rawness that feels more believable. Cpt. Kumar displays his vocal range perfectly as well, which translates to horrendous scowls and pained clean vocal moments, nothing ever feeling overly happy. Nor should it. This was a hell of a time for the whole of humanity. “Zeppelin Raids” gives me the right amount of ominous doom, as “Ottomon Rise” gives me an absolute splattering of mud and chaos. The riffs here sound downright demonic, once again making me feel the sorrow and fury of the war. Once again, this record puts you right in the middle of a war. You might want to put on a flak jacket before you even sit down to listen to it. That's not to say that there isn't any light-hearted bits of atmosphere to be found on the same track, but the howling and shrieking in the background certainly dirties up the clean guitar nodes used on the piece. There's no remorse here, not even in the twinkly bits. It's war! Have you forgotten?
I will say that more progression finds it's way into the mix later on, and that's fine. I do prefer records with more texture and depth, and these guys could have just given me pounder after pounder, by which I'd have been sick with the record by then. Rather, 1914 decide to give me an actual performance worthy of being on a disc, with many twists and turns in lieu of songscape and that's when I start to give a damn. I'm aware that this is an older record, but if you have not heard it yet, now is your chance to do so. I will warn you that it is absolutely gruesome, not for the feint of heart and drenched in the blood and guts of merciless warriors who fought for several things, but namely their own lives. Nothing I've seen in the metal market puts you right in the heat of battle faster than 1914, especially with album, which should be heiled as a modern classic.
(10 Tracks, 51:00)