Chaos Reigns: 1349 Sets the Bar for Metal Tours in 2016

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Earlier this year, the Chaos Raids Tour found 1349 galloping through the countryside with Tombs and Full of Hell. For my money, it’s not only been the pound for pound best package to hit the road in 2016, but it looks a lot better than some of the other pairings loading themselves into tour buses this summer. So what makes this bill so great, and what should metal a promoter consider going forward into 2016? Emily Harris took the photographs here from the show she caught at Reggie’s in Chicago, while I caught the tour in Atlanta at The Basement.

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We walked in while Full of Hell was pounding out their last song. I wasn’t too broken up about missing the bulk of their set, as I had seen them about a year and a half ago with Mutilation Rites. I do, however, appreciate what their brand of Converge-esque metallic hardcore adds to this tour. If 1349 had gone out with a pack of blast beat-hungry bands, the show would have taken on a very monochromatic vibe. Aside from filling the room, opening bands, or warm-up acts as they were once more aptly called, should get the crowd’s blood boiling so the headliners can deliver the money shot.

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Tombs took the stage and brought much-needed atmospheric breathing room to the night. The band brought along an unexpected line up change with the addition of Fade Kainer from Battilus/Statiqbloom. Kainer split the vocal duties with Mike Hill, adding a bit of flavor and personality that honored the black metal elements of the band while also highlighting the industrial influence simmering under the surface. These elements cast a larger shadow in the live sound while subverting the post-punk moments. Obviously, touring with a band like 1349, they brought it in the most furious fashion possible while staying true to their darker, more introspective side.

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No matter what you think of black metal’s more theatrical elements, 1349 is the real deal, and they perform with dead serious conviction. The stage was set for the ritualistic pageantry of black metal. The drummer came out in a hoodie and full corpse paint simply to adjust his drums before returning to the stage covered in sigils scrawled over his bare torso. Frost was unable to perform that evening, so 1349 employed Jon Rice of Job For A Cowboy. For a little guy hammering everything out with power and machine-like precision, he surprisingly didn’t break a sweat or smear his make up. Singer Ravn brandished Gwar like gauntlets on his forearms. His stage presence was commanding and engaging. The mix shifted and the vocals were much more audible from the house P/A, so the closer you stood to the stage the more his croaks and screams faded behind the buzz-saw guitar.

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The band’s energy and intensity maintained the momentum of their set, regardless of rhythm or use of blast beats.  Archaon handled all the guitar duties by himself; some of the layers that are on the album were given a more stripped down and straightforward treatment. While the material from Cauldron of Chaos dominated the set, they made the unique choice of cramming “I am Abomination”, “Nathicana” and “Sculptor of Flesh” in onlookers’ faces. 1349 won the Atlanta audience with their punk rawness. Despite what you might have heard, the A-town is not really a metal town, but it does have many punk bands that converted over in the great sludge summer of 2005 after Mastodon broke big, so the 1349’s breakneck energy and antagonistic vibe certainly won over all the hearts and minds of the pit-dancers in attendance.

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If you missed the Chaos Raids tour and call yourself a fan of black metal, you did yourself a disservice. Both Tombs and 1349 are a must-see. They approach their respective sounds with all the passion they can hold in their black hearts. Full of Hell can still be caught with Pig Destroyer when they wreck the Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn on March 11th. They’ll also open for Converge April 13th in London before they head over to play the Roadburn Festival the next night. Tombs are easing back out by playing Saint Vitus in Brooklyn on April 29th. After that, they will hit up the Mr. Roboto Project in Pittsburgh May 14th, the El Club in Detroit the 19th of May and Firehouse 13 in Providence the 19th. Don’t miss them.

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All Photos By Emily Harris

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