1349 – The Infernal Pathway
You’ve already seen the score, so let’s just cut to the chase; The Infernal Pathway is not just a good 1349 album, it is a really good 1349 album. TIP manages to bring together elements from every era of the band’s discography, and somehow ends up feeling somewhat concluding in doing so. The album brings back the “Tunnel of Set” naming-scheme for the brief atmospheric pieces placed between some of the tracks previously seen on 2010’s “Demonoir” as one of the elements making this record in particular seem to bridge the gap between the band’s different albums and themes. While the return of the “Tunnel of Set” series of instrumentals doesn’t add much musically (to me anyway), it does serve the purpose of giving the listener some much-needed breathing room between the vicious beatings that the band is offering in the remaining “real” tracks. These interludes aside, the remainder of the album sounds more or less like what one expects from 1349’s at this point well-established sound, but holding back a bit on the mid-paced thrashy riffs heard on their previous release, 2014’s Massive Cauldron of Chaos, my favourite of theirs. Even as a huge fan of that album in particular, I can’t say I see this much as a drawback, but rather as a band breathing fresh air into their sound by re-exploring their roots; which in 1349’s case means blast beating the listener to an infernal hellscape with demented tremolo-picked guitar-lines, slick leads, and off-beat thrashy, and often chromatic tasty riffs for accompaniment. The album does, in other words, retain some of the feel from MCoC.
Not a single song goes by without at least one very memorable vocal hook (Towers Upon Towers, Striding The Chasm, Through Eyes of Stone, and Deeper Still in particular), and every track stands on its own legs, with none of them coming off as filler, although Enter Cold Void Dreaming does feel just a tad weaker than the other tracks. The rest of the review could really just continue by me listing the time-stamps of the best riffs (of which there are many with a capital M) from every song, instead however, I will be addressing the one truly surprising element on The Infernal Pathway, namely the closer.
So, just before the album closes and you think you’ve mainly heard what the album has to offer, from Demonoir nostalgia to blast beats to a fiercer iteration of the riffing heard on McoC, the album decides to pull one last trick from up its sleeve. Stand Tall In Fire, being the title of the closer, immediately intrigued me upon receiving the promo due to its triumphant-sounding, yet not quite cheesy title, and long run-time (in comparison to the rest of the cuts on the album). Stand Tall In Fire might be the best song I have ever heard from the band. The track opens with some really foreshadowing guitar lines paired with spoken word, and you already know from the build-up that this thing is gonna blow up in your face, and it will. Several times. The immediate association I made, without being able to explain why, was O Father O Satan O Sun, the closer of Behemoth’s 2016 behemoth known as The Satanist, maybe because of the anthemic feeling, like the band is making a statement. A very surprising aspect of this song is the hard rockiness of it, with the chorus for some reason bringing to mind a (and the band might wanna crucify me for saying this) Van Halen song that I have been trying to remember for almost a week now. The track is just so stupendously catchy for what you’d expect from the poster boys of “aural hellfire” responsible for the non-stop sonic beating received by the listeners of, yet again, Demonoir. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a criticism of the band’s earlier output, that would be heresy, but sometimes “different” can be a surprisingly good thing. This is one of those times. I will report back when I get this album out of my head.
Stand-out tracks: Stand Tall In Fire, Deeper Still, Through Eyes of Stone, Dødskamp.