Whenever a band goes for a unexpected change of direction -- which is exactly what 1349 does on Revelations of the Black Flame -- there are bound to be listeners who applaud their willingness to try something different, as well as listeners who have absolutely no use for their new material. And Revelations of the Black Flame is no doubt going to inspire a lot of heated debate among 1349 fans; some will praise this album, but others will hate it and insist that 1349 should have stayed the same. This 2009 release is a major departure from 2005's Hellfire, a ferocious sledgehammer of an album that didn't have much in the way of nuance but was good for pure, unmitigated exhilaration. However, there is nuance galore on Revelations of the Black Flame, which has a black metal orientation but gives 1349 a definite makeover by incorporating elements of industrial metal, alternative metal, doom metal and ambient electronica. There are plenty of darkly atmospheric passages, and those atmospherics even bring to mind Neurosis but are a lot more ominous and much, much creepier. While Revelations of the Black Flame has its share of brutality, it is a long way from Hellfire's wall-to-wall viciousness. And if fans of Hellfire and 2004's Beyond the Apocalypse thought that 1349 would never be comparable to Blut Aus Nord in a million years, the truth is that Blut Aus Nord (an experimental black metal/alternative metal band from France) is, in fact, a valid comparison on Revelations of the Black Flame (which even contains an intriguing cover of Pink Floyd's "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun"). Black metal purists are unlikely to have any kind words for this album, and those who fancy themselves black metal purists would be better off sticking with Hellfire and Beyond the Apocalypse. But headbangers who keep an open mind will find that 1349's willingness to experiment pays off handsomely on the compelling Revelations of the Black Flame.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2