Saturday, October 3, 2009

Clandestine Blaze - Deliverers of Faith (2004)

Deliverers of Faith is the fourth full-length from Clandestine Blaze. This opus stands as the darkest album recorded by this Finnish Black Metal band. Released in December 2004, this album was limited to 500 vinyl copies and 1500 CD copies, meaning that I'm even more thankful to the kind soul that sent this as a gift, over a year later. I can't imagine not being able to hear this album as it is the pinnacle of Mikko Aspa's creativity. This came out many months after Deathspell Omega's Si Monumentum Requires, Circumspice, and I'd say that it is the more solid of the two records.

The album begins with "Beyond the Reason", which starts with some feedback that leads into the main riff. Right away, the only real flaw of the album is revealed. The production is a step down from what was achieved on Fist of the Northern Destroyer. I felt that the sound of that album was perfect for Clandestine Blaze. Here, the drums sound odd and a bit louder than I would think necessary. In a way, this takes away from the guitar melodies, which are standard fast tremolo-picked riffs on this song. However, with all that said, one slowly adopts a new perspective as the track progresses. The production works well with the songwriting to create an otherworldly atmosphere; one of eerie detachment from reality. This music pulls you through a portal to another dimension. In this place, everything is just a little off from what you are used to; just enough that you are incredibly uncomfortable and disturbed. This feeling will only grow as the album goes along. Musically, this song consists of sections of typical fast-paced Second Wave Black Metal mixed in with old school Celtic Frost rhythms, producing something ugly and almost frightening.

"Psychopathia Sexualis" continues to borrow the riffing style of Mikko's Swiss heroes. Why he chooses to do this on every single Clandestine Blaze release, I am not sure. It's almost like an obligatory thing, as if he has to include some old school Black Metal references to legitimize himself... or he reallt, really likes these kind of riffs and doesn't realize that he's not terribly good at them. This one isn't all that bad, though it's all the other things that are added along with the main riff that really help to carry it. There are some horrific screams in the background, at certain points, that add to the strange feeling. More or less, this mid-paced song plods along and is one of the least memorable of the record, though it does nothing to take away from it, either.

The next song is the most epic composition, perhaps, of the entire Clandestine Blaze discography. "Winter of White Death" creates an ominous aura of desolation and terror. It begins slowly, with sparse chords that crawl under your skin and a haunting melody that slithers up your arms, moving toward your torso. Once there, it reaches out and tears at your heart while applying awful pressure to your lungs. The sound is utterly dismal and darker than black. A desolate tremolo riff is then joined by the drums, still seeming out of place but adding to the overall effect in an unexpected manner. This song takes you to a place where all of your worst fears become reality; to a world of unending torment and suffering beyond that which you've ever experienced. Here, you re-live the most painful moments of your life and find that even the pleasant times were but an illusion brought on by your own insanity. This song crawls along at a funereal pace, creating this horrific soundscape through minimalism and artistic vision. There are no symphonies or choirs added to this. It is barren and bleak, much like the atmosphere it produces. Even during the best of times, listening to this imbues the listener with an unsettling feeling. This is mournful and cold, suitable for one's final moments on this rotten earth. In fact, this is the type of musical piece that could send an already weakened person over the edge of sanity and into death's embrace.

"Falling" follows with a return to the speed and intensity from the first song. The melancholy tremolo riffs and fast drumming return, doing well to carry on the tradition of Transilvanian Hunger while being immersed within the nightmarish melodies of Clandestine Blaze. Mikko's vocals possess enough reverb on this album to really give a strange and distant feeling to them. It adds to the uncomfortable and disjointed sense that this record bears. Around the middle of the song, the riff changes and is accompanied by a blood-chilling voice that seems to be moaning from deep within the abyss. The tension continues to build until everything slows down, briefly. This is followed by the return of the original riff and more half-shrieked screams to go along with the normal ones. In the closing moments, these screams are joined by the moaning from before, which is no wmuch louder. You are getting deeper and deeper...

This is followed by "Tormented", which starts with slow doom riffs that maintain the rather unpleasant feeling that has been conveyed, thus far. It is, more or less, a slowed-down Hellhammer riff. There also seems to be some faint keyboard presence, adding another layer to the terrifying aura that this music possesses. It fades out, before the hateful vocals begin, returning in between verses. This only increases the sense that you've been pulled from your body and dragged into some unknown hell dimension. Half-way through, a lone tremolo riff rises from the fiery depths and is joined by tortured screams, mirroring those which reside within your own being. As this lengthy journey continues, you find yourself expecting the night to soon end. You look forward to any sign of light, as you are lost in this void of nightmarish despair. But time stands still, here. This night will never end... your suffering has only just begun.

"Grave of Gratification" starts out with one of the most memorable riffs of the whole album. It features a tremolo melody that is supported by fast-paced drumming, building upon the tension and dread already created by previous songs. To say that this bears an epic feeling is an understatement. It is the climax of the whole album, yet in some ways what it represents is only the beginning of your eternal journey through true darkness. This is the kind of music that infects your soul, yet you appreciate it all the more for this fact, oblivious to the slow spiritual death that this will cause. Like a moth to a flame, you cannot help but be drawn to these miserable and tormented sounds. It is pleasing to listen to, as the music is well-crafted, yet the experience is unpleasant and almost painful. It serves to reveal those frail illusions that you've used as a crutch to get through this miserable life. It strips you of all that you hold dear, raping your dreams and poisoning your hopes. In the latter half, things slow down and the eerie feeling is intensified. Desolate screams are heard, coming from all sides, like spectres of your own failures. While your body falls into the lonely grave, unmarked and unmourned, your spirit is taken to depths unfathomable, where the real torment shall soon begin. As the final dissonant chords fade, the final indecipherable screams call out to haunt you for eternity...