Label: Northern Heritage Band: Clandestine Blaze Origin: Finland
The raw, artistic brilliance of Mikko Aspa can’t be denied as he spews out a new Clandestine Blaze album shortly after his last endeavour with Deathspell Omega. The Finnish one man band had been a quiet since 2015’s ‘New Golgotha Rising’, but now is back with ‘City of Slaughter’
Aspa is a fascinating character and has been producing massive amounts of music through the years. I would recommend reading this Heathen Harvest interview with the man if you’d like to know more. Other musical avenues he’s been working on is Vapaudenristi, Grunt, Creamface and D.O.M., all exploring different directions of extremity.
The album is out on his own label, so Aspa is in full control of this release. It feels like this record returns to the roots of the dirty punk sound that makes up Clandestine Blaze. From opener ‘Remembrance of a Ruin’, a lazy rhythm rambles onwards with repetitive arching riffs. This creates the feeling of something freakish, while barked vocals roar over the tunes. It’s a remarkable side of this release, it never feels that much like a black metal album. The second part of this song becomes much more of a doomy/sludge passage. The whole record from there on sounds particularly muddled, sticky and grimy, not with the clean, cold riffs you’d associate with black metal.
Still, the blast beats are there and the bestial growls from Aspa are nothing less than ghoulish, unearthly growls. The production is just precisely right to create that feeling of a formless, crawling abject entity that is the sound of Clandestine Blaze. So yeah, I love this album, it makes me feel like bashing stuff and spray painting the office walls at work. Primitve fury oozes from this record, particular favorite is ‘Return Into The City Of Slaughter’, which feels like a crusty Darkthrone in a tar pit tune. Simple, pitch black and really captivating. Raw hatred in the vocals, blistering riffs and a good pace to let loose to.
‘City of Slaughter’ recaptures the spirit of oldschool black metal in its ferocious primitive fury. A record to fall in love with the genre to again.
Records! From The Underground! This time The Black Heart Rebellion, Clandestine Blaze, The Lion’s Daughter and Batushka.
The Black Heart Rebellion – People, when you see the smoke, do not think it is fields they’re burning 9000 Records
Anything from the Church of Ra is worth your listening attention, and so is this bit of music from Ghent, Belgium. This is no laughing matter, this is serious, this is artistic sound that should not be played in the background but one should be immersed in. It’s the third album of the band and it denotes another change and growth of the ensemble. Is it metal? I don’t know. If it is, it’s a stripped down version that is approaching the corner of martial folk street with ritual doom on the Amenra bus I’d say, from the calm roads of eastern meditation.
This is one of those records you’ll come back to. It’s calming rhythms, the threatening vocals and the mild music combine into a mystical experience, for example on the track ‘Om Benza Satto Hung’. This is more a spiritual quest in the deep parts of India with a dark spirit looming over you. Chimes and primitive drums can be heard, guiding the ritualistic nature of the song. A song like ‘Near To Fire For Bricks’ takes on a whole different feel, with its gloomy atmosphere and at the same time seductive sound. The voice is commanding and rigid, in contrast to the free sounds that make up the music. It’s pretty hard to describe, but it is a trip to hear this album. This is one of the missing gems in my year lists from 2015.
Clandestine Blaze – New Golgotha Rising Northern Heritage Records
New noise from the wicked mind of Mikko Aspa, known from his wide range of endeavours outside of black metal. The man is famous for his fetish magazine and porn series that he is doing and his interest in the subject in other musical projects. Clandestine Blaze is dark, gritty and black metal the way it used to be. It’s album number eight from the Finnish master and it has a promising cover with a rising skull with crosses on them, like mount Golgotha.
The production is lo-fi, gritty and distorted. There’s no attempt at speed, Aspa remains very close to the atmosphere of original black metal bands with powerfull vocals and a never ending torrent of hazy guitar parts. There’s no real sonic extravaganza going on, just a drudging rhythm, the bark of Aspa and dark and foul lyrics, like on ‘Fractured Skull’. The typical BM riff and drum roll is ever present, making it all sound raw, fuzzed out and monochrome. It’s black metal at its raw and pure core, reason enough to check this out.
Batushka – Litourgiya Witching Hour Productions
These Polish blasphemers have been in my playing routine for a couple of weeks now, but I can not ignore them any longer as an essential mention in the Sounds of the Underground series. The band from unknown parts of Poland has released one single and this album and further all information is unknown. Mentioned on their metal archives page is that they are in fact from famous bands. So that’s how much is known. It would explain the extravagant beauty of this record.
The most impressive element in the music is the Gregorian chanting with deep baritone voices, which gives it both a liturgical as well as a notably eastern-European vibe. In a way the album reminds me of Ghost, but then the full on, no breaks, no god, no fear version of that band. The dense sounding black metal is illuminated by the chanting, giving it an ethereal, compelling sound that is full and warming. That might also have something to do with the neat production, that seems to flatten the sound somehow. It’s not enough to hamper its forceful appearance though. This brings blackened doom to its logical conclusion without trying to be either retro or progressive.
The Lion’s Daughter – Existence is Horror Season of Mist
With a name like that you probably would expect something else than the onslaught of sound that awaits you on this record. It’s the second full lenght of these Missouri natives, who somehow manage to mix up a potent blend of black metal, sludge, grindcore and more that will knock you of your seat. Seriously, combine Converge, Neurosis and Goatwhore and you may approach what these gents deliver in a sweltering, dirty package of violence.
The lead is really on the vocals, to which the whole guitar parts seem to cling like hot tarmac. Melodic riffs illuminate the grimy bass lines, that are accompanied by guttural barks filled with despair. In a way the band manages to capture a similar feeling as Primitive Man, with an obvious dislike to human kind. There’s an uncanny ferocity in the sound of the band, which allows or pushes them to use brutality over anything else. Only the guitar parts are left standing to give some sort of beauty to the tracks, where there really is none. There is no rest for the listener, no respite, just an oncoming slaughter of sound. Don’t doubt the musicianship though, its what makes the band so frightning, the purposefulness of every hook and riff.