|Review: 1914 - Where Fear and Weapons Meet|
|Where Fear and Weapons Meet|
Label: Napalm Records
Year released: 2021
Review online: December 1, 2021
Reviewed by: Micah.Ram
for:Where Fear and Weapons Meet
Rated 4.2/5 (84%) (5 Votes)
World War I musical historians 1914 are back with their third full-length album, Where Fear and Weapons Meet, continuing their masterful blend of Death, Black, and Doom Metal through which they revisit the events of that tragic period in our world’s history. I won’t chew the fat here; this is a must-listen album. Coming off the successes of their powerful 2018 full-length, The Blind Leading the Blind, this new album is more of what one might expect, but with a more focused sense of identity musically and a very refined package in total.
Like with their previous full-lengths, 1914 started this album with "War In" as an intro and finished it with "War Out," an outro. While the band has done this on each full album, each instance is not the same, as they used these two segments to set the tone, story, and overall atmosphere for the flesh of the album. In this case, "War In" is a Serbian folk song called "Tamo Daleko," which has a unique place in history about which is well worth reading. The alteration to the recording that occurs and brings the listener out of that and into the band’s bombastic entrance is the presence of gunshots midway through that coexist with the old song’s recording. The band comes in on track two, "FN .380 ACP#19074," firing on all cylinders. The track starts off hot with blasting drums, a massive wall of sound, and the sound of horns adding to the texture. Lyrically, this track puts the listener in the perspective of the ones who assassinated Franz Ferdinand and ultimately kicked off World War I, of which the band themed all of their work.
As mentioned earlier, this is a blend of Metal subgenres, as with their previous records. What I felt different about this one was that the band found a more organic approach to incorporating the Doom elements within, which makes the slower moments feel less jarring than when compared to the previous album. Perhaps some will prefer the more extreme transitions such as in "Arrival. The Meuse-Argonne" in The Blind Leading the Blind in the segment about friendly fire destroying troops by a rain of artillery, where musically it gets soul-crushingly slow and heavy. On Where Fear and Weapons Meet, one could not find any Doom-influenced sections as crushing and starkly contrasted as that. Instead, the slower parts on this album have a unique energy about them that make it feel less slow than it is, displaying how masterfully the band has managed to intertwine multiple subgenres into one sound. 1914’s vocalist here is a great asset to the band and their message, as his voice carries emotional weight and inflections, as well as great clarity. When the lyrics and messages are this powerful and central to a band’s content, it’s refreshing when one does not need to pull out the lyrics to understand all of the words.
Rather than do a track-by-track analysis of the album, of which I am greatly tempted with all the goodies tucked away within the album’s incredible journey and pacing, I will highlight a few of the greatest moments as well as some of the surprises. Speaking of surprises, track five, "Don’t Tread on Me (Harlem Hellfighters)," which is one of my favorite tracks on the album, has an almost Amon Amarth quality about it. Occasionally the vocalist even has a similar sound within various pockets on the album. "Coward" is a folk song featuring Ukranian folk musician Sasha Boole. There is much magic in this track, which takes the listener out of the intensity of the band’s efforts musically. While it is a break from the band’s grinding efforts, it does leave a heavy imprint lyrically and in spirit. The deep bass drum hit in the middle is subtle but has a deep-felt resonance about it, and the song is the most haunting experience on the album. "...And a Cross Now Marks His Place" is a doomier number. The lyrics are actually a real letter addressed to the mother of a fallen soldier. The moment in which the vocalist reaches the lyric "Later in the night the enemy shelled our lines" is one of the most emotionally engaging of the album, as the vocalist outbursts express great fear and panic. This track is a major highlight of the album without question. The massive and deep droning cyclonic riffs in track nine, "Mit Gott für König und Vaterland" are menacing, and really fit the lyrical focus of Big Bertha and its lethal usage. The last true song effort on the album is a cover of another folk song called "The Green Fields of France," originally by Eric Bogle, which is a song written to counter the anti-Irish prejudice that came to exist in Britain during the IRA bombing campaign in the 1970s. This song’s inclusion is somewhat of an interesting choice to me, especially given its original goal. However, it still aligns with the World War I theme lyrically and is rather fitting as a final track of the band’s output. The song is largely doomy but subtly shifts into higher gear in an almost sneaky fashion. The instrumentation is extremely engaging, especially with the bagpipes relating to a funeral service for a fallen soldier frequently appearing. There is much magic in this cover of "The Green Fields of France." The actual final track, "War Out," is a song which I also researched a bit, finding out that it was an anti-war anthem that got much airtime for around two years before it was pulled off the air in the latter half of the war as it was perceived as bad for morale in the war efforts. The closing lines of the song are the last thing the listener will hear: "There’d be no war today if mothers all would say, ‘I didn’t raise my boy to be a soldier.’"
As short as I intended to keep this review, I could not help but pour out my findings and impressions, as this album has made a large impact on me over the last month or so. I did tons of research as a result of this album, learning more about World War I and the names that exist in the stories that were kept on record from those days. No album released in a few years now has moved me as much as Where Fear and Weapons Meet has. And to top it off, regularly checking out the band’s Facebook page grants you access to frequently published additional content in the form of pictures and stories from the war which feel like efforts of extending their art. This album is worth every penny and every second of your time. Much respect to 1914 and what they have accomplished. This will go down easily as one of the greatest albums of 2021.
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