With fantastically frigid riffage, frantic drumming and a lone feral howl commences Clandestine Blaze’s twelfth full-length abomination of indignant blackness. Genuine heartfelt Black Metal fanaticism poisons the very ether, pouring acidic scorn, resentment and invective upon meek mankind and its slavish conformity to dogma and twisted inversions. The indiscriminate fist of the northern destroyer swings once more.

The subtle evolution of Clandestine Blaze continues unabated yet barely perceptibly on ‘Resacralize the Unknown’. Each release in the mockery-howling discography is instantly recognisable as Clandestine Blaze yet no two are quite the same. Therein lies the prestige. This time the outrageous onslaught is musically more restrained, toned down and fine-tuned, while the lyrics are deeply poignant and philosophical, mysterious, not easy to interpret fully – misanthropic and contemptuous yet paradoxically upbeat and life-affirming. How else should we address the ignorance of man and the futility of all things other than embracing and celebrating the perpetual downfall?

Could be because the elation that a new Clandestine Blaze record materialised so abruptly and suddenly is affecting my judgement, but the overall feeling ‘Resacralize the Unknown’ evinces is a triumphant one, instilling rapture. Mikko Aspa has been crafting his trademark form of exemplary underground Black Metal under this banner for a Christ-crushing, beard-bashing quarter of a century now and profound, uncompromising curses like ‘Tombstone of Christianity’, ‘Our Cross to Bear’ and ‘Bring Me the Head’ demonstrate that the fuming Finn has with the ominous passage of time lost none of his fervour or distain for the daily deliverances of the doomed and the damned.

While the formula is a straightforward one and he never veers far from the tried and trusted template that has served him so well under this moniker (Mikko certainly shows his creative diversity elsewhere), Clandestine Blaze is invariably inspired and essential. Few – if any – can match the legitimacy and legacy of this peerless, fearless act / artist.

The new record is a relatively short one, acknowledging the seminal days of CB but also laced with touches of the doomy experimentalism that gradually seeped its way onto the canvas. By the time the accusatory, thoughtful metaphysical musings of ‘Mass Graves of All Eternity’ have faded (but continue to reverberate in the unconscious mind), one is left in a state bordering on awe, at one with the force of undiluted darkness that drew us to Black Metal – with all its adversarial traits – in the first place and longing for even more from one of the genre’s true torch bearers.

Evilometer: 666/666