First of all I need to say that in this review I can hardly remain impartial due to some valid reasons. In my early years I found two beautiful novels about World War I: “The Good Soldier Švejk” by Jaroslav Hašek and “All Quiet On The Western Front” by Erich Maria Remarque. If the first one describes the rigidity, stupidity and sluggishness of military machine (did something change since then?), the second one shows the most disgusting side of war – endless blood, dirt, death and total misunderstanding for what was all this? So when some band vividly creates the same pictures of war like Aldington or Hemingway with their Blackened Death/Doom soundscapes and gives you tons of facts like a good encyclopedia, this band will always be one of the best for me. But let’s cut the crap: Ukrainians 1914 release their third album named Where Fear And Weapons Meet.
Like in their previous albums, Where Fear And Weapons Meet starts with atmospheric intro “War In” – this time the band takes the listener to 1910s Serbia with an old song “Tamo Daleko”. A light and pretty sad motive interrupted with two gun shots and screams of crowd, and then it changes with mighty Death Metal and orchestra – that’s how “FN .380 ACP#19074” starts. For those, who are too lazy to google it, the name of the song is the model, caliber and serial number of pistol of Gavrilo Princip, who killed archduke Ferdinand and actually started WWI. Some Black Metal elements can be also found in this song while the music itself is quite melodic and the brass section adds some angst; overall, this song gives a feeling that something huge and terrible is coming. Also I need to say that extreme vocal here is very legible because the lyrics here are important not less than music.
“Don’t Tread On Me (Harlem Hellfighters)” is also fast paced and brutal Death with surprisingly catchy melody, which comes sharply right after some propagandistic speech. This song tells about another shameful aspect of racial segregation in US and I urge you to read at least the section in Wikipedia about this regiment. Brital riffs with stunning, fast drumming transmit the fury of the cornered man, who needs to frantically fight for his life. He fights not because of valor but because of fear and desperation. The same mood can be heard in “Mit Gott für König und Vaterland”: it’s about the fierce obscuring the eyes in form of Blackened Death. By the way, there is also a guitar solo in this song.
“Coward” is another outstanding song, which bisects the album. In The Blind Leading The Blind this was an old soldiers’ song “Hanging On The Old Barbed Wire” but here 1914 created the song, which soldiers could also sing in trenches. This is another shameful story, now from the British side, performed by Ukrainian folk musician Sasha Boole (Me And That Man). It’s great in its simplicity and gets you to the bones with its tragedy.
“Vimy Ridge (In Memory of Filip Konowal)” starts slow, gaining the tempo gradually and in the end it turns into somber Death Metal with one of the most memorable melody in this album. “Corps d’autos-canons-mitrailleuses (A.C.M)” also starts slow and grim, combining the heaviness of Doom and tragic orchestra, just to turn later to desperately angry Black Metal, creating an atmosphere of doomed wandering and a feeling of abandoned. The elevated orchestra is also presents in “Pillars Of Fire (The Battle Of Messines)”, where together with Blackened Death brutality it shows an enormously tragic picture.
Talking about tragedy, the first single “…And A Cross Now Marks His Place” should be mentioned, where Doom Metal icon Nick Holmes (Paradise Lost/Bloodbath) vocal can be heard. Somber music, with the lyrics that contain actual death note from WWI (I still don’t know how 1914 managed to do that) just can’t leave anyone indifferent.
And the album ends with epic and atmospheric, 10 minutes long “The Green Fields Of France”, where bagpipes changed with another bunch of heavy Doom/Death and a talk with the dead soldier on the forefront. In the middle of the song some battle sounds appear, bagpipes play one more time and then drums start to play some Black patterns and the music fills with chaos. Quiet extreme vocals with refrain of the last line over all of it transforms “The Green Fields Of France” into the atmospheric canvas and you want to hear it more and more to find all the details.
This time outro “War Out” is probably the first anti-war song “I Didn’t Raise My Boy To Be A Soldier”, which was written by Alfred Bryan and Al. Piantadosi, and performed by Morton Harvey in 1915. There is not so appropriate, cheerful melody but simple words, which talk perfectly clear about this awfulness called “The Great War”. And if we sum this album up as a concept or the stories’ compilation, this will be the best way to finish it.
“We are not singing the songs, we are telling the stories,” states the band in their press release, and that’s true, while they got better and better from album to album. 1914 are honest with their listeners because they take these war stories seriously, pass them through themselves, deliver it in a form of Blackened Death/Doom and you believe them. Their music makes you relieve while lyrics makes you search for information and read the books. They show the most truthful face of war. Yes, the war that was ended 100 years ago but war never changes, right?
Where Fear And Weapons Meet will be released on October, 22 via Napalm Records.
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