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Solid raw black metal - 80%

Rautafin, May 2nd, 2021
Written based on this version: 2021, CD, Northern Heritage Records

Clandestine Blaze is Mikko Aspa, a man known for many different projects. In addition to his black metal band, Aspa runs his own record store, has a couple of record labels, plays rock music and power electronics. And that's not even all what he does.

Despite this, Clandestine Blaze, a one-man project releasing records since 1998, has already released 11 albums. Despite its solo-project-like nature, Clandestine Blaze is beyond a bedroom black metal project, breeding in Aspa's home studio and has previously participated in a few splits and other minor releases.

It’s no coincidence that of all the bands in the genre, Clandestine Blaze has been compared to Darkthrone the most. With its 42-minutes of total running-time, Secrets of Laceration sounds a bit like Darkthrone in the past in all its ugliness. The most surprising thing about the album’s rough black metal is how much it spends its time on mid-tempo parts. In addition there are almost doom-like slower part. There are faster parts, too, but they are more like random eruptions. Another surprising factor is the relatively abundant amount of synths used. However, this album is not something that could be called symphonic or keyboard-driven black metal.

Given that Clandestine Blaze is mostly known for its rawer black metal, Secrets of Laceration is a quite a rocking album featuring even a bit of melodic output. Despite all this, the album sounds what you'd expect from Clandestine Blaze in its own way. While some riffs or parts remind of Darkthrone, the overall feeling is still quite different.

Clandestine Blaze tradition, on the other hand, is emphasized by dirty, ugly and grim production. Aspa's guttural grunting black metal vocals are spot on as ever.

Based on a few first spins, Secrets of Laceration is neither the best nor the worst Clandestine Blaze thus far. The eleventh full-length is a solid release, if not a particularly memorable one.