This is the 13th release from the legendary Finnish black metal act Clandestine Blaze. Mikko Aspa returns with this incredibly hard hitting and crushing album in true Clandestine fashion. Continuing on the new sounds that was heard on the last release, Secrets of Laceration, Mikko continues on the path of melodic black metal with that distinct raw sound that Clandestine Blaze is known for. While this album is quite the traditional black metal affair, there’s no denying that there is something fresh and new with this and Mikko is a master of creating traditional yet unique black metal in his own tradition.
With a roaring guitar to start things out and some blasting drums, you’d expect this to be an old school Clandestine Blaze sound that we’re all familiar with from the early days. The riffs are cold and raw, the drums are endlessly blasting, the vocals are rough and guttural, its all simply perfect. But, much like Secrets of Laceration there’s a bit of experimentation in terms of style and approach. There’s more of a doom metal influence though rather minor if I’d say so my self. Some slower passages thrown in there that give it that Panzerfaust era Darkthrone feel. That opening track The Birth of the Sun is a great example of such, with the latter half having a much more slower and stripped back sound that stands out. The second track follows suit, with a foot stomping guitar riff and a mid paced beat that is infectiously headbanging. The final track of the album Mass Grave of All Eternity is another epic of a song, starting out fast and heavy, while transforming through out the song, transitioning between fast and slow, with the slower parts having this almost ritualistic like prayer drawing up images of the final breath of humanity and all of the universe in a beautifully suffocating light.
What’s great is how much you can hear Mikko reflect back on past albums and use them as a great source of inspiration in terms of the more straight forward approach and no non-sense style black metal he was known for, as opposed to Secrets of Laceration, even though there’s plenty of influence from that album as well.
There is something a bit cold and nihilistic about this album compared to the last. There’s a deeper sense of misanthropy and general disdain for all life and its clear in lyrics. While that was always a theme through out the older Clandestine Blaze albums, I feel like this one is much more in the forefront, stripping back the more ‘atmospheric’ ideas and just giving it to you cold and straight, both through the instruments and the lyrics. Like on the track Our Cross to Bear a mournful lament on humanity’s pitiful grasp on an illusionary dream world of a rather popular desert cult.
This album is truly a mater class of black metal. Mikko simply continues down a path he has carved that is both keeping traditional second-wave black metal sound alive, while propelling it forward with a fresh new sound. While, yes there are these doom metal influenced moments, we can’t forget just how much doom metal its self influenced the sound of black metal as a whole as well. With a few flashbacks of Darkthrone, Burzum, Ulver, and even a little bit of Immortal there’s enough to show that this cold, raw sound of black metal is not dead and probably won’t be for a long time. A must listen to all. If you haven’t, what’s stopping you?