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There's Nothing... But Repetition! - 55%

Perplexed_Sjel, February 20th, 2008

Mikko Aspa has built quite the reputation in the black metal scene. Not only is he the front man for this band, Clandestine Blaze, but he has also lead the way for numerous other bands, including the much loved Deathspell Omega. The mere mention of Deathspell Omega is enough to make most people's knees go weak. I consider myself to be a fan more of this project, in all honesty. Deathspell Omega have never really appealed to me, but I can't quite put my finger on why that is. Clandestine Blaze's minimalist sound is usually enough for me to add my name to the list of people who respect Mikko's music.

'Night Of The Unholy Flames' is the second full-length from Mikko's very own Clandestine Blaze. The early stages of Clandestine Blaze, to me, are the weakest. As time has gone on, the band have evolved. From this highly primitive sound, the band have managed to harness their repetitive nature into a more positive outward showing. Whilst black metal of this kind does tend to remain largely repetitive, there is a limit on how much one can take. I'm a fan of repetition, but there needs to be more than just that to back up the rest of the music. Soundscapes can't rely too heavily on repetition to enforce the lyrical themes and that's where 'Night Of The Unholy Flames' fails on many levels. It's too repetitive.

Mikko doesn't leave much to the imagination when it comes to his music. It's straight forward, no nonsense and no thrills. If you're expecting a truly avant-gardé piece of work, you'd best look elsewhere because Mikko isn't in the mood for niceties. Clandestine Blaze are simplistic to the very extreme. A straight forward bass line plugs away in the background, without ever really going anywhere. A dull sound is proceeded by a distorted lead guitar like that of any of the earliest black metal releases of the 1990's. Think early Darkthrone and you have it. 'Night Of The Unholy Flames' has several problems. The repetition is the main one. It's meant to be used as a driving force behind the themes of the band, but it acts more like a hindrance. The production is also a problem. If you're going to force an audience to endure a long winded album filled to the brim with monotonous guitars, then the production needs to be clear. Why? Because as an audience, we're looking towards the other instruments to provide a bit of spark where the guitars lack.

The production is rather hazy. The sound is quite dirty, but that tends to suit the moody nature of the album as a whole. The bass is almost inaudible, but when it can be heard, it takes the exact same route as the lead guitar, it's repetitive. Too damn repetitive. Again, if you're going to use repetition throughout an album, you need to create soundscapes of the highest order, filled with lots of atmospherical qualities and it must be emotive. 'Night Of The Unholy Flames' tends to focus on one emotion and sticks to it like glue. The vocals aren't anything special, so the audience isn't relying too much on them to provide some impetus. There are some catchy riffs which will ease the woes of the audience, but it's far too primitive most of the time. Thankfully, Clandestine Blaze do begin to show more intent on later albums.