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The monuments crumble but never fall... - 85%

ultraviolet, June 1st, 2011

How can one rate emotions? CLANDESTINE BLAZE, the personal vehicle of THE blackmetal voice of the 00s, return after a four-year recording absence to pay tribute to those who stand up and through the passing of time, despite the wounds it causes. Such were (and some of them still are) the (anti-)heroes of the early Norwegian scene, whose teachings are reverently followed by Mikko Aspa.

Using the raw, cacophonous sound of old DARKTHRONE and their fellow travelers no fifteen years ago as it’s axis, “Falling Monuments” begins its journey with the aggressive mood of “Unfolding Madness” to settle mostly in mid-tempo shelters where the riffs sound threatening and guitar leads full of bitter melody. Scattered melancholy mixed with emotional uplift are present within the eight tracks of this album, giving it the consistency that was partly missing from its predecessor. Listen, for argument’s sake, how the definition of epic blackmetal in “Call Of The Warrior” transforms into the nostalgic tone of “Melancholy Of The Falling Monuments”. Listen to “Bloodsoil” with the furious beginning, ready to go to battle before it calms down in the end, handing the baton to the small but miraculous “Horizon Of Ego Annihilation”. Listen to Mikko Aspa, the Preacher of DEATHSPELL OMEGA, to interpret the above with his all-personal, grumpy voice and distinctive accent. How many artists, indeed, have achieved such recognition during the last decade?

CLANDESTINE BLAZE are not here to start any revolutions nor to open new roads. These deeds are done by other, more appropriate disciples of this genre. “Falling Monuments” is here for those who are delivered with no fear to the vortex of massive, traditional blackmetal. Music that respects its origins yet maintains its own individuality and, above all, comes to us full of emotion. You could never rate feelings, could you?

originally written for the:

  • Falling Monuments - 75%

    unkreation, April 27th, 2011

    Clandestine Blaze is one of the better-known bands from Finland, and rightly so. Their first albums marked the revival of the Second Wave spirit in Finland and served as a flagman ship for the future bands to come (along with Horna, Warloghe and Behexen). Mikko Aspa, who is the sole member of this cult, is also very well known for his labels Northern Heritage (Satanic Warmaster, Ildjarn, Deathspell Omega, Stabat Mater, Unkreation's Dawn, Mgla, Warloghe and countless others) and Freak Animal (mostly power electronics and harsh industrial). Furthermore, he's also an editor of "Erotic Perversions" and an owner of a metal store in Finland. And the last, but much more relevant to this review, he is a member of Deathspell Omega (the prophets of Neo-Orthodoxy and metaphysical approach to the Divine within the Black Metal Cult), Stabat Mater (deeply tormenting Funeral Doom Metal outfit) and Grunt (a cult power electronics project). It's possible to name at least a dozen of other projects he contributed to (like Satanic Warmaster, for which he played drums once, or Nicole 12 and the likes), but I believe the reader is smart enough to use Google, if he's interested to find more information about him. Either way, the review....

    And the album sure does differ from what you would usually expect to hear from Clandestine Blaze. While the vocals are 100% recognizable, the music changed a bit. While the previous works were reminiscent of the early to mid era Darkthrone with keyboards to some extent (even though it's a bad example, as CB always had its own original unoriginal style), here Baptism, Mutiilation, Corpus Christii, early Deathspell Omega and perhaps Moonblood come to mind first. Why is that? The riffs are not exactly dark or evil, much more melancholic, nostalgic and perhaps longing for something. Like an autumn rain, that falls for hours and hours, perhaps even for days, painting everything gray. Here the band comes closest to the depressive black metal sub-genre, while not completely crossing over, but rather balancing on the edge. The riffs are very melodic and atmospheric. And the melodic part did come to rise on this one, which is perhaps not the best thing, as for me Clandestine Blaze was always that rough gem, which, while not polished, channeled the anger of the artist in a simple, yet very effective way. Now the music carries an assortment of different shades of gray melancholy, which might appeal to some people more, than the more straightforward previous works. Then, the music became a little bit more complex. Not like Watain or DSO, but Mikko definitely gained quite some skills throughout the years of training. The drumming is fantastic in its rawness and naturality. Every beat comes placed as it was supposed to be, everything flows very smoothly and without any unexpected turns. And, what is really beautiful, the drums sound very natural. Come to think of it, the sound overall is really blissful in its rawness, I wish more bands would record like this.

    Overall, I expected a bit more from Clandestine Blaze, to be honest. The album doesn't really fail in any particular way, but it was much more convincing before, definitely until "Deliverers of Faith", which was an indisputable highlight of the band. The moods channeled here don't really correspond to what I would usually listen to, though on occasion it might as well work. Definitely recommended to atmospheric/depressive black metal fans though!

    Originally written for From the Pulpits of Abomination blog: