Clandestine Blaze - _Fist of the Northern Destroyer_
(Northern Heritage, 2002)
by: Matthias Noll (8.5 out of 10)
Finnish underground black metallers Clandestine Blaze return with a new full-length album on Northern Heritage. Musically, most of the material on _Fist of the Northern Destroyer_ stays within the stylistic boundaries defined by Darkthrone's "Kathaarian Life Code": blazing songs and sections with monotonous, trance-inducing melodies plus -- for good measure -- some crunching Celtic Frost worship. But Clandestine Blaze's contribution to black metal considerably exceeds the achievement of just adding another album which sounds "like _A Blaze in the Northern Sky_" to the pile. The Finnish scene has developed a style which is firmly based on the pioneering albums of the second wave, but has clearly and distinguishably added a melodic and atmospheric twist of their own. Finnish bands, and Clandestine Blaze in particular, sound a lot darker and more melancholic to my ears than their Norwegian comrades. CB's vocalist contributes a much deeper and more commanding performance than the usual black metal rasp and adds even more personality and sinister touches to _FotND_. Of course this record is underproduced and raw, but it never sounds thin or weak. Surprisingly for a black metal album, the bass is clearly audible and it even participates actively in the delivery of the songs. Overall _FotND_ is a damn fine album and in my opinion superior to 2001's _Night of the Unholy Flames_. Where many others fail, Clandestine Blaze manages the difficult task of adhering to the ultra-conservative rules of true black metal and establishing their own identity -- even considering the artwork -- with ease!

(article published 16/4/2003)

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