Clandestine Blaze / Deathspell Omega - _Split LP_
(Northern Heritage, 2001)
by: Alvin Wee (8 out of 10)
According to the band, last issue's interview with Clandestine Blaze drew more than a few looks of interest in their direction. If the aim of this new wave is to create controversy, they're doing a great job: the cover alone is one of the most distasteful I've seen, being a collage of (presumably WWII-era) photos of dead bodies lying in decay. Shocking it may be, but pictures like that of a bulldozer being used to shift a mountain of bodies provides an apt -- if macabre -- backdrop to both bands' malicious tunes. A-side Finns deliver four more of their Darkthrone-worshipping dirges, retaining the oppressive monotony and depression of their still-warm _Night of the Unholy Flames_ [CoC #50]. Like on the old Unpure albums, the sheer despondency besetting the music is bleakly infectious, leaving the listener in choking clouds of torpor and gloom, unable to do aught but be overwhelmed by misery. Highly affective stuff, and a guaranteed depressant for the chronically optimistic. The French horde on the flip side show as much knack for sweeping atmosphere as CB does for futility, milking similar sources (read: Darkthrone, Burzum) for more melodic, expansive ambience a la _Transylvanian Hunger_. A welcome break from the utter wretchedness of side A, providing a perfect counterpoint with the guitars bleeding out sweeping melodies and an atmosphere reminiscent of old Emperor/Enslaved (though the comparison seems rather stretched considering the difference in styles). Lyrically, the band don't lie too far from the controversial extremisms of platter-mates CB, dwelling on decidedly uplifting topics like rape, suicide and perversion. This is a band destined for greatness in the underground, as the three tracks so convincingly prove, and we can only wait with bated breath for any hint of an upcoming full-length. Another highly recommended vinyl-only masterpiece from the Northern Heritage stables, all the more elusive and appealing for its strictly non-CD format, a welcome trend increasingly popular among underground labels. Limited to 300 again, but some copies should still be floating around. Worth every penny of the potentially high price.


(article published 12/8/2001)

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