1914 may have their Blackened Death/Doom formula honed to a science, but it’s still interesting to note how their methods get affected as their platform gradually expands. Their third album, Where Fear And Weapons Meet (Napalm Records), certainly sees some effects of this as their highest profile release so far. The production job is their most polished to date and the riffs have a more noticeably grandiose edge to them than usual. They even got Nick Holmes to perform guest vocals on the appropriately Paradise Lost-esque brooding of ‘…And A Cross Now Marks His Place.’
This may raise concerns about the group’s approach potentially getting watered down, but there’s still plenty of brutality to dish out. Tracks like ‘FN .380 ACP#19074’ and ‘Pillars Of Fire (The Battle Of Messines)’ put in the most bombastic displays as the swelling horns behind surging blast beats make for an ominous combination. Elsewhere, ‘Vimy Ridge (In Memory of Filip Konowal)’ and ‘Don’t Tread On Me (Harlem Hellfighters)’ execute the band’s Bolt Thrower aspirations with machinelike efficiency while ‘Corps D’Autos-Canon-Mitrailleuses (A.C.M.)’ and ‘The Green Fields Of France’ really put the Doom in Death/Doom.
The album also never loses sight of the band’s goal to bring pathos to their World War I-themed aesthetic, especially during the second half. In addition to the wartime samples continuing to flesh out the immerse sonic landscape, a more dynamic approach allows for greater stylistic shifts than before. This is best displayed by ‘Coward,’ which sees the band completely give way to Folk balladry performed by fellow Ukrainian Sasha Boole. The previously mentioned ‘…And A Cross Now Marks His Place’ is another winner; it may offer much of the same heaviness as other tracks but having Holmes on board does give it an even more cathartic touch
It’s almost arbitrary to weigh 1914’s albums when they’ve maintained such a powerful track record, but Where Fear And Weapons Meet may be their strongest iteration so far. A broader platform works greatly in the band’s favor as the expanded dynamics makes the heavier aspects even more impactful and lends even more drama to their war themes. It’s not necessarily an accessible record, especially since they still have no interest in glorifying their subject matter, but it could make a good entry point for unacquainted listeners who like their Extreme Metal with extreme catharsis.
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9 / 10