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Following 1349 Through The UK

It’s always been my motto that “I’ll go wherever the music takes me,” and since no place on earth is any further than a plane ride away, my last global metal adventure took me and my trusty camera to Wrexham, Leeds, and Manchester, UK for three EAR-gasmic nights with Norway’s own 1349.

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Having last seen 1349 live at Bloodstock exactly two months prior, I’d gotten a chance to observe how well they hold their own on a massive festival stage, and could scarcely wait until they ripped the roof off of the small, intimate venue in Wrexham, which would be my first tour stop.

Noteworthy was the presence of 1349’s drummer Frost, who was unable to attend Bloodstock due to a prior obligation with his other band, Satyricon.

While the lighting in the UK venues was nothing to write home about, a heroic attempt was made to capture some photos of the unholiness before me, while basking in the “Aural Hellfire” emanating from the stage.

They commandeered the stage in a smoldering display of fire-breathing, courtesy of Frost and guitarist, Archaon. I’d waited my entire adult life to capture this moment in all its blazing glory, and stood nearly catatonic in my rigid stance, camera glued to my face, finger hovering above the shutter, only to miss the shot due to a stumbling, bellicose drunk choosing that very second to slam into me, grab me by the arm, and start babbling incoherently in my face.

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Struggling to regain my footing when the drunk collided with me, I felt a blast of heat, and saw a flash of brilliant light in my periphery, and just like *that*… it was over.


I quickly forgot my crushing disappointment and searing white-hot rage when the rest of the band emerged, and erupted with the blistering opening notes of “Manifest” from 2003’s “Liberation” album.

Staggering in a blissful daze toward the stage so I could drink in the intoxicating, chaotic onslaught at close range, and stand near enough to the P.A. to experience that rumbling, crushing sensation that feels like a 9.0 earthquake jostling your lower bowel, I was finally, as they say, “home.”

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Following that menacing intro, the rest of the set list was as follows:

Maggot Fetus… Teeth like thorns
Psalm 7:77
Riders of the Apocalypse
I am Abomination
Chasing Dragons
Pandemonium War Bells
Aiwass Aeon / Evil Oath (alternated every other night)
Serpentine Sibilance
When I was Flesh
Sculptor of Flesh
Atomic Chapel

It’s safe to say that the little town of Wrexham, Wales was thoroughly, and properly pillaged that night.

Whether owning a sprawling festival stage, or rattling the rafters of a small, intimate venue, 1349 never cease to deliver the goods in full blown, cacophonous black metal fashion. Fronted by towering, imposing front man Ravn, who easily stands a good six and half feet tall, and prowls the stage spitting hellfire and rusty nails with his fierce, sadistic vocal style, and rounded out by the thunderous low tones of Seidemann on bass, and madly innovative axe-man Archaon on guitar, 1349 harken back to the days of black metal purity, when things were low-fi, gritty, and meant to be kept in the dark. Watching the performance, it wasn’t difficult to imagine being in a musty, dank basement 20 years ago, listening to something new, raw, terrifying, arcane, and that maybe you shouldn’t be hearing, but couldn’t easily put down. It was a trip back in time to my reckless youth, when I cut my teeth on the sounds of Darkthrone, Mayhem, Emperor, et. al…I’ll never stop loving that vintage , aggressive, unholy sound. The only difference was, back then, I never imagined in a million years that I would ever be on the other side of the Atlantic, watching an honest to goodness Norwegian black metal band perform inches from my face. Back when I first discovered black metal, the prospect of ever leaving the continental U.S., and seeing these guys up close, seemed about as likely to me as chartering my own lear jet to Mars.

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This was by no means my first time to see such a gig overseas, but the feeling never gets old. If it does, take me out to the woodshed, and put a bullet in my brain.

There was, however, one last visceral thrill I had yet to experience, and had dared only imagine for the last fuck-knows-how-many years.

I needed to get “up in the line of fire” and experience up close, and “in your face – no-holds-barred”, the rabid animal insanity of Frost drumming, something I’ve only seen only from the front of a stage, or on YouTube and even then, thought…”How?…No human can do that.” Most impressive, he warms up for an hour or so immediately prior to taking the stage, and plays with the same speed and intensity as he does during the live set – so that’s roughly two hours straight of keeping up that fervent, ceaseless momentum.

Following 1349 Through The UK

So I crept side stage, shot a few pics from alongside the kit, then slithered through the heavy black drape and perched on a concrete pillar next to the stage and drum riser, which put my ears at roughly the same level as his feet on the kick drum pedals. Pulling my knees to my chest, and folding up in a pint-sized, undetectable ball in the heavy darkness, I let the assault sink in. I felt like a little kid, spying on something only grown-ups understand, that was not meant for my vulnerable ears.

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What I absorbed was not entirely unlike the sensation of having an entire magazine of AK-47 ammunition unloaded directly into your skull at close range…but in a very pleasing way. The most stunning aspect of it all, perhaps, was that his hands and feet both literally became such a blur that I could not even wrap my eyes around them. Yet, every single beat, note, and strike was articulately, powerfully enunciated and discernible, and heavy-hitting as fuck-all, consistently. Most shocking, perhaps, was the fact that the level of searing intensity emanating from him made him appear as if he were one huge, tightly wound, tensile, raw nerve, that was sincerely in danger of actually splitting wide open and exploding right there, mid-set. Fearing overwhelm, flying Frost shrapnel bits in my eyes, and the very real possibility that I might seriously shit my pants, I slumped off my perch, and stumbled slack-jawed to the front of the stage. I felt very much like that poor unfortunate woman in Stephen King’s “Lawnmower Man” who has her mind rearranged by virtual reality, and is reduced to a blubbering, drooling wreck that roams the neighborhood, clad only in her underpants, babbling incoherently, and garnering pity from her neighbors, and scrutiny from local law enforcement.

I came, I saw, I retreated when I could withstand no more.

‘Nuff said.

Following 1349 Through The UK
Needless to say, Leeds and Manchester were looking like exceptional ways to spend the next couple of nights.

Leeds was big fun indeed, and the crowd there was quite receptive and enthusiastic. As Murphy’s Law invariably dictates, the MOST “enthusiastic” audience member (in other words, the sloppiest, drunkest most belligerent, malodorous dude with the most psychotic and out of control flailing body movements) found a spot directly next to me, and proceeded to elbow, body slam, and generally terrorize me, alternated with hurling his entire body against the front monitor, sending it careening forward a foot or so, repeatedly, only to have me move it back each time. I can handle the overall insanity of a metal crowd just fine, but when dude bashed into my camera rig, the claws of the “mother bear” emerged.

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A warning glare and an elbow aimed pointedly at his eye socket dispatched him. My “shot across the bow” worked without me having to actually commit assault.

Now, I was finally ready to enjoy the show.

They tore it up again as usual, and alternated the prior night’s “Aiwass Aeon” for “Evil Oath”, but otherwise stuck to the set list, which was a nice mix of material old and new.

High points of the night in Leeds: The fact that I was positioned directly to the left of the wedge monitor with provided Seidemann with Frost’s drum sound, so I could easily listen to every note, at a safe distance should he actually implode as I feared he might.

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…and, I NAILED the fire breathing intro shot! Huzzah! Another fantastic evening with 1349!

Following 1349 Through The UK
The last night of this magnificent musical experience was Manchester, @ Moho Live, a venue notorious for “energetic” crowds, horrific lighting, and a “photo pit” which is actually just a barricade pressed directly against the stage, with no room for a full sized human to fit betwixt.

Being no “full sized human”, I performed “Operation Human Pretzel” and jumped the barricade and folded up like Origami on one of the the foot wide steps, and nestled in for the duration of the performance.

The stage was SO dark, that not only could my camera not actually grab a point to auto-focus on for most shots, I couldn’t even see the band members well enough to know what to aim at. On rare occasions, the flash from someone’s point and shoot would illuminate a shot for me, or one of the three or four obnoxious monotone LED stage lights would flick on, and allow me to get a marginal shot of a person bathed in red, green, or blue.

That aside, it was the best show of all three nights, I reckon. The place was full, the crowd was wildly responsive, and the band was deeply into it, leaning into the audience to shake hands, get up in their faces, and rock them right the hell off.

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Note to fans – if you want a band to give their all to you, start by giving them something first. Scream, yell, fist pump, throw horns, head-bang, whatever. If you’re like me, and way too self-conscious to “act-out”, do what I do, and scream on the inside, and at least get up front and pay attention. If you paid for a ticket, and cared enough to show up, then make your presence known. Don’t be shy! The show will be that much better for everyone involved.

1349 killed it in Manchester, they killed it in every city, really, but they stomped on the corpse in Manchester, long after it was dead – fueled by the wild crowd who went, as Frost so aptly put it in my August interview with 1349, ”ape shit”.

And that concluded an exceptionally rewarding and impressive mini-tour with these diligent stewards of black metal madness. Well done, 1349, and thank you, Merry Old England for a face-meltingly good, brutal, debaucherous time. Very special thanks to 1349’s crew, and the staff at all the venues, your hard work and assistance is greatly appreciated, without you all, the show would not go on. \m/

Click here for an entire gallery of 1349 photos from these shows.

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