One cliché that is frequently used in reference to the more extreme metal recordings is, "If hell had a soundtrack, this is what it would sound like." It's one of those clichés that has been overused but is nonetheless appropriate in many cases, and it certainly applies to 1349's Beyond the Apocalypse -- a nasty, harsh, brutally skullcrushing blast of Scandinavian death metal/black metal that lacks even the slightest trace of subtlety. This 2004 release is an exercise in bombast for the sake of bombast, and most of the time, 1349's vicious ferocity comes at an extremely fast tempo. There are some tempo changes on Beyond the Apocalypse -- 1349 doesn't play at breakneck speed 100 percent of the time -- but when all is said and done, it is the ultra-fast playing that defines this sledgehammer CD. Those who don't comprehend this type of extreme metal (which, like free jazz, gangsta rap, and techno, is definitely an acquired taste) will ask, "Where are the melodies? Couldn't these guys be more musical?" Well, some metal is highly musical -- Queensrÿche's Operation: Mindcrime is, for all its loudness and aggression, every bit as musical and intricate as Duke Ellington or Joan Baez. But a band like 1349 represents metal's lunatic fringe, and Beyond the Apocalypse isn't supposed to be about melody or musicality -- raw, cathartic, painfully loud exhilaration is enough for these Norwegian tormentors and their fans in the mosh pit. 1349 can be quite predictable, and they won't win any awards for originality; countless other Nordic death metal/black metal outfits have done this type of thing. But despite its limitations and derivative nature, Beyond the Apocalypse is a decent listen if one is in the mood for pure, unmitigated sensory assault.