Clandestine Blaze - Night of the Unholy Flames
Northern Heritage
Black Metal
8 songs (44:27)
Release year: 2000
Northern Heritage
Reviewed by Tony
Archive review

Finnish Black Metal. Home to some of the most misanthropic luciferian bands the world has seen. Home to many a National Socialist pariah, or a Christian hating madman. Finnish Black Metal has been accused of harboring many Darkthrone clones, even while some of these bands that use this influence are solid projects. Finland however, is also home to several excellent bands such as Sargeist, Behexen, Horna, Beherit, and several others. Here, Clandestine Blaze are the band under the microscope. With 2000s Night of the Unholy Flames, Clandestine Blaze put forth a solid effort, yet at the same time do little to establish a creative variation amongst the 8 songs on this disc.

Clandestine Blaze are a 1 man project by Mikko Aspa, who is the proprietor of Northern Heritage Records. Aspa plays a dark, foreboding brand of Black Metal which is not there to show off musically or dazzle you with creativity. Clandestine Blaze are a blackened, evil band who wish to drive you into maddening insanity.

However, with all the merits of Finnish Black Metal, the first track to this album annoys me to great lengths. Intro is exactly what it sounds, a mumbling, pointless intro with no sensible purpose. I can't stand intro tracks. I HATE them. To answer your burning question, yes, I capitalized, italicized, and set the word "hate" to bold.

If one of the best tracks on the album followed some redemption would have been reached but Chambers, while being a solid song, does not cut it. The lyrics are about the gas chambers used to kill off Hitler's targets during the Holocaust. It begs the question if whether Aspa is a National Socialist or not. Contrary to what some may believe, Clandestine Blaze is not an NSBM band. The feel of the album matches the really awesome cover art. Featuring several shadowy figures laden on a background of sheer darkness. Cross of Black Steel is simply a buffer song with nothing but slow and heavy power chords, before leading into what is one of the great songs on this album, the title track: Night of the Unholy Flames. Nearly 8 minutes of heavy and bleak Black Metal which twists and turns with great riffs.

The production of Night of the Unholy Flames is distinctly Lo-Fi even for Black Metal. The vocals stay rather monotone which is frustrating, and the guitars remain a strong yet backwards groaning sound. They really aren't played that loud, and unlike much Black Metal, are not at the forefront of the band. And to think about it, there is kind of an anomaly in the sense that nothing is in the forefront. All instruments and vocals blend in nicely together. While nothing sticks out, the fact that everything is evenly balanced adds nicely to the feel of typical Finnish Black Metal. That's the problem with Night of the Unholy Flames. It's far too typical. The music is all just simple generic Black Metal. It's not bad, but it's not something that has any sort of bells and whistles, hooks, or catchiness, and that is my biggest qualm with Night of the Unholy Flames. It's no small issue.

This is my first exposure to Clandestine Blaze and I can surely say that while I'm not overly pleased with Night of the Unholy Flames I can definitely see the potential here in Mikko Aspa's "Asparations" (I made a funny)... This album has intrigued me to check out another release or so. Night of the Unholy Flames sticks to the Finnish formula of no nonsense Satanist madness. But there is more Clandestine Blaze could do to run with the Finnish sound as this is the most stripped down and simplistic Black Metal that the Finnish scene has given me so far. This makes Beherit sound as ornate as Windir. It's not a bad record, and it's certainly one that shows that Clandestine Blaze is capable of great works, but I can't help but feel shorted, as I'm sure there are better records out there by Aspa and his solo effort. Finnish Black Metal has a lot to offer if you're one for pummeling blast beats and melodic leads, but there are other albums to be had before one reaches for Night of the Unholy Flames.

Killing Songs :
Night of the Unholy Flames, Future Lies in the Hands of the Strong
Tony quoted 71 / 100
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