Not 11 months ago, this reviewer was penning a summary of 1349's experimental and controversial effort, Revelations of the Black Flame. Since then, something must have inspired the band to move on from these revelations to Demonoir, set to hit the shelves at the end of April this year. One thing remains the same is the presence of the formidably experienced and talented member of the metal hall of fame – Mr. Tom G. Warrior. Last time out, the legend of Celtic Frost fame co-mixed the album and added a bit of bass and vocals, but this time around he was at the helm of production. Although Demonoir may be a more engaging record than the 2009 effort, the same haunting raw and constant ritualistic vibe is maintained. This album is not just better than Revelations... simply because it is more traditional in terms of what we know as black metal, but as its own entity it is much more potent. It achieves what Revelations... was trying to achieve whilst still retaining the strong-armed, blazing black metal of Hellfire (2005) and other such 1349 releases. The inescapable claustrophobia present on the latest effort was definitely missing last time out. It is not one of these records where the message sinks in finally after five to ten full on listens, wading through ambience and atmosphere building riffs – the atmosphere is right there, acrid and boiling with foul imagery an inch from your face as soon as “Atomic Chapel” kicks in. The album's fast-moving riffs and dynamic riff patterns are laid bare immediately with satisfying results. For a frame of reference Demonoir casts its net somewhere between Mayhem, Aborym, Gorgoroth and Immortal, but successfully carves its own idiosyncratic niche and personality. A resounding return to 1349's devastating best – and a fine black metal release indeed.