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Review: Clandestine Blaze - Church of Atrocity
Clandestine Blaze
Church of Atrocity

Label: Northern Heritage Records
Year released: 2006
Duration: 42:41
Tracks: 6
Genre: Black Metal


Review online: March 12, 2009
Reviewed by: Brett Buckle
Readers' Rating
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Rated 3.8/5 (76%) (10 Votes)

I really enjoy discovering metal musicians who spread themselves around a few different bands as it's intriguing to hear the differences between those sometimes disparate musical sojourns. Clandestine Blaze belongs to one Mikko Aspa, no doubt best known for being the vocalist with Deathspell Omega since the Si, Monumentum… album, and Church of Atrocity is the 5th album he has released under that name.

After the straight up gritty Black Metal of "Church of Atrocity" we get the very out of place shoegaze riffing of "Ashes of the Eternal Wanderer", a track that comes across as a slightly stripped back Alcest tune without the peaceful melancholy. When Mikko's vocals come into the tone of the track alters subtly with an under current of menace making itself felt, and, when contrasted with the airier feel of the instrumental sections and the drawn out funerality of the mid-section, it creates this intriguing clench and release dynamic that keeps the track interesting for its near twelve minute length. "Storm of Purification" is total Morbid Tales-era Celtic Frost worship, complete with Tom Warrior-styled death grunts and "Procreation (of the Wicked)" copycat riffs. It's a welcome change of pace after the previous plodding twelve minutes, and while it will get your head nodding it is such a faithful "homage" that you can't help but feel that Mikko might have been better off just picking a Celtic Frost tune and covering it. "Last Morning of Old North" takes its cue from DsO, being especially reminiscent of "Hétoïmasia" from the Si, Monumentum… album, only lacking the depth of those tracks. The album finishes up with the one-two punches of the very Darkthrone-esque "Frozen Angel" with its rocking triplets, trilling basslines and haunting atmosphere, and the fast paced climax of "Unforgiven Acts" which again displays a strong DsO influence, courtesy of Mikko's trademark vocals and some urgent dissonant riffing.

From the outset you will not be under any illusion with the production - it is raw and crusty with nothing but rough edges as far as the ears can hear. The guitar sound is very basic and coarse, and more often than not stripped back to a single axe being swung by an unrefined brute - the very essence of Black Metal! The bass is the star of the show on many tracks, having a good metal tone and frequently rolling along providing some interesting fills, and straying from the established guitar lines enough to be a highpoint of the album. Anyone familiar with Mikko Aspa's 30-odd other bands will be familiar with his gruff words-as-weapons style of vocal delivery, so suffice to say he is in fine form on this album.

Church of Atrocity is an odd one; lacking in any cohesiveness or direction, it seems to be a bunch of songs that have been written for other bands that just never got released. All the tracks are different from each other and make no effort to hide their influence or inspiration, and you don't feel as though there is any personality injected into them by the song writer. But having said that, it is still an enjoyable album, and it will get your head nodding quite fervently on occasion. Its biggest failing is also, perversely, its greatest strength in that the tunes are all so different to each other that it will keep your interest for the duration. For fans of the above mentioned bands this is well worth checking out for some quality, gritty background music.

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