1349 – Dødskamp
This 2-track vinyl and digital single release by Norwegian black metal stalwarts 1349 is something out of the ordinary. The ensemble’s interpretation of Edvard Munch’s bone-chillingly beautiful painting entitled "Dødskamp" (which translates to "Death Struggle") has a strong and prominent aura of melancholy to it that sets it apart from so many other compositions by the band. This one comes across as deep and heartfelt, and there is something special about the riffs and melodies and the way in which they are interwoven and contribute to the morose atmosphere of the entire thing. The piece ranges from utter despair to towering pain, and there is an urgency to it that is almost overpowering at times. On top of that, it is as dynamic as it is cleverly arranged. The most unique thing about the song is that it embodies and to some extent even amplifies the existential angst and deep-seated loneliness of Munch’s rather intense masterpiece, which is truly special. "Dødskamp" is a massive tune that reeks of human struggle, and any black metal aficionado out there ought to approach this one with an open mind and simply revel in its many qualities and haunting aspects. It is as focused and disciplined as they come, but it never turns rigid and it retains its momentum from start to finish.
If you want something sinister and hellish, there is a pretty raw and vile live rendition of "Atomic Chapel" present here too. It lacks neither the blackened stench nor the epic vibe of its studio counterpart, but it does not exactly add a whole lot of substance or value to this output as such in the sense that it is merely a faithful rendition of an otherwise excellent studio song. Then again, the title track is an absolutely mandatory listen, which is reflected in the rating above, so just consider "Atomic Chapel" a pretty cool (albeit an inessential) bonus feature, alright?