City of Slaughter
TL;DR: Harsh black metal for those who are able to enjoy primitive riffs & lo-fi production.
Review: Northern Heritage is one of the most well-respected black metal labels in the world. Led by Mikko Aspa, it has gone a long way hand in hand with Mikko’s main band Clandestine Blaze, a solo operation with the very same genre. These two entities have lived in a sort of symbiosis which is reflected with Clandestine Blaze recordings. Where the band’s debut album Fire Burns in Our Hearts had catalogue number NH-001, the latest one is 9th studio album so far and labeled as NH-100.
Through the band’s history Clandestine Blaze has always represented more harsh and violent end of black metal genre. Effectively this means more primitive songs, noisier soundscapes and more growling-type vocals than your average genre names. Even if CB isn’t exactly the most primitive or harshest of them all, it clearly stands in the crowd that is only for the more dedicated fans and listeners in the scene.
CB’s way of doing things has clearly been a sort of success, even if underground terms. City of Slaughter is by no means an exception. The songs are not too many in numbers nor the album too lengthy. Even more so this album could be described as insane and feral. Maybe sort of caveman black metal waving a spiked club in furious manner.
Songwise this means an interesting combo of traditional Clandestine Blaze sharing its bed with Darkthrone doing it’s unholy trio era. That in conclusion creates distant relations to early Celtic Frost as well, even if the whole album doesn’t exactly sound like first wave proto-black.
In contrast to these ideas there are some ambient-like synths involved where there are no guitar parts at all. Just some growling where Mikko’s distinguished vocals can be heard in minimalistic atmosphere. If nothing else, these are a great way to break monotonous riffing and drum-beating and thus waking up the listener to a whole different feeling.
When it comes to production, there are no big surprises here. Those who know Clandestine Blaze’s earlier stuff, this is pretty much you’d expect from a CB album. All in all City of Slaughter lands somehwere in the middle of the whole discography. Clearly not the best album by the band thus far, yet not the worst one either. And let’s not forget that Clandestine Blaze has not made even a mediocre album, not ever. So, to conclude this rant, I can clearly recommend City of Slaughter to those who have liked CB’s earlier material. For newcomers this is as good an album to start your CB fandom with than basically any other CB release.