Fanning the Unholy Flames
CoC interviews Clandestine Blaze
by: Alvin Wee
Long known for melodic, commercially-oriented acts like Sentenced and Amorphis, the frozen wastes of Finland conceal much darker treasures. Joining the ranks of Barathrum and Diaboli are Clandestine Blaze, purveyors of grimly unmelodic, "true" black metal. _Night of the Unholy Flames_ is the band's second outing, and while boasting slightly better distribution than the first, promises to be equally obscure and -- in the words of the diehards -- "cult". Despite their desire to remain underground, the band's Darkthrone-inspired material deserves better exposure, so I decided to hook up with Clandestine Blaze for a little introductory chat... which turned out longer than expected and somewhat controversial too, but here goes.

CoC: _Night of the Unholy Flame_" has been out for some time now... how has the response been so far, in Europe and the States? How much promotion have the labels done for you?

CB: Response has been very good. One could say it is also because -- like all the releases -- album has been only sold. Therefore people who buy it mostly know what they will get, and they buy it because they like this type of material. There has not been free copies sent to magazines etc., so there hardly is any journalist criticism received. The little there is, has been positive.

CoC: How about sales-wise?

CB: LP is sold out. There is little more than 100 CDs available at Northern Heritage. I don't have details of how sales in USA have been, but rather good, I suppose, as I have not heard complaints. This is achieved with almost zero promotion. There were 1000 flyers, and that is all besides the blackmetal.com web site. No advertisements, and like said before, no free copies.

CoC: Speaking of labels, the companies releasing the album are pretty obscure, with the exception of the US distributor. Aren't you worried that this will affect the sales of the album?

CB: All CB releases are intentionally limited editions. There have been no problems to sell a couple hundred vinyl and a thousand compact discs. As I'm in charge of Northern Heritage, there is no better label to be. Naturally NH is exactly my taste, but if we count that out, End All Life productions from France is the world best black metal record label. Their non-commercial and 100% dedicated attitude for the true underground makes it best label to co-operate with. Blackmetal.com has been supportive and honest from the beginning, since the release of CB's first demo. And very easy to work with. They do good work spreading the material over USA, which otherwise would not have Clandestine Blaze, nor Northern Heritage records distributed at all. Also they have done great releases, and special support for vinyl as well.

CoC: But one must sell albums to keep on creating music... this is unavoidable, isn't it?

CB: Selling albums is not necessity for creating music. I have some material which has not, and probably will not be released, it's only given as tapes to some people. I feel it is good to show people that black metal underground is alive, and releasing records is a good way to show it. But it is not an absolute must. I'm creating music for myself. Music that I like to hear and words I like to hear. It's not essential how much the album sells. Existence of a vinyl version that will hold my creations 'till a distant future, that is a good point in releasing records.

CoC: A great idea... but I'm still not sure... Anyway, on to the music itself. You play a very primitive style of music, with very few technical elements. One might attribute this to a lack of skill/experience rather than a conscious choice. Simplicity has long been an excuse for immaturity. How would a listener differentiate between your music and that of the countless immature bands nowadays?

CB: Music of CB is intentionally stripped down of unnecessary elements. It would be no problem to change riffs more often, put some fancy fills and different drumming styles and tempo changes. But I usually dislike black metal like that. I like it to be solid, in a right way monotonic, cold and barbaric. Music of Clandestine Blaze is what I want to hear. If I liked some other type, I would make it that way. When you look at the situation in Finland, I think it's the immature kids who play the technical and sophisticated black metal. I think it's the older generation who enjoy the harsh and primitive music more. If you play Hellhammer, Bathory or even Darkthrone to a youth of today, they'll laugh and go back to latest Mayhem or Dimmu Borgir CD. Kids who can't play, and therefore do primitive music, they'll learn soon and bands become different and deny their "black metal roots". It doesn't take many years to see which bands are worth paying attention to. I'm not in a hurry here.

CoC: What then are your musical influences? I would guess Darkthrone, Burzum, etc.?

CB: You're right about musical influences. Bathory, Beherit... you might add to the list.

CoC: There's a small but strong movement today playing this raw, primitive style. Bands like Judas Iscariot, Urgehal and some German acts like Katharsis, etc.. What do you think of these bands? Any recommendations or preferences?

CB: There are plenty of good bands out there who play raw black metal. Finland alone has Bloodhammer, Warloghe, Helwetti, Pest, Annihilatus, Uncreation's Dawn, Incriminated, Musta Surma, Horna, and the list goes on. The rest of the world also has many good bands, Deathspell Omega being among my favorites, also being released on Northern Heritage. I'm not worried about the future of black metal as music. Good music will always exist, despite being minority. Lack of right attitude is frustrating.

CoC: Indeed, but I guess labels have a hard time surviving by supporting such music. I know: my own distro carries only such obscure bands/labels, and it's difficult to sell more than a few copies of anything. Is there anything we can do to keep the tradition alive?

CB: I am used to small amounts of sold items. When I work with Northern Heritage, even bigger names (in this case meaning Graveland and similar scale) don't sell more than a couple dozen copies. Therefore I find it worthy to take unknown bands' rough demo tapes, even if it would sell three copies. I don't want to push things artificially. All worthy things are noticed if they deserve it. It might be difficult to sell something that every label has and that is available easily, but when you have exceptional releases, they will sell. I see many labels pushing hard to grow bigger and when they face difficulties and their plans don't come true, they are frustrated. I'm satisfied to stay small. That way those people who get stuff from NH can always trust good and fast delivery and honesty. Not this "fill out the form and show us credit card" style that big labels are now using.

CoC: Do you think it'll be able to continue for long?

CB: Underground will always be there. You can count on that. If wannabe mainstream bands go to mainstream, that is only healthy for the true underground. Getting smaller doesn't mean the end.

CoC: Maniac Butcher is famous for their slogan "No female vocals... etc."; you follow the same tradition. What is the reason for not including these elements in your music? Don't you think that music with these elements can be considered good black metal at all?

CB: When you look even as little as ten years back, there wasn't much synthesizers in metal, nor female vocals. If you would have asked some metalhead back then, would you buy this metal album which has flute and violin as main instruments, he would have smashed your face.

CoC: So what do you think of the bands that have turned "strange", like Dodheimsgard, Satyricon, etc.?

CB: I do listen to very experimental music, but what comes to black metal, it's good when it is pure. Metal is supposed to be ugly, filthy and raw. Metal scene swallows all what is given. Can you go to disco and convince people that metal is actually disco music? No, you can't. But when introduced some disco music for metal crowd as "new style of metal", they'll soon dig it. I have not heard Dodheimsgard since their _Satanic Art_ MCD, which sucked hard. New Satyricon is not so "strange". It's actually based mostly on traditional metal instruments and elements. Their MCDs are shit, if you mean those?

CoC: That's what I was referring to. I feel (like you, probably) that today's scene is but a shadow of what it was in early '90s. Black metal was created to be feared and hated, not embraced by kids like it is today.

CB: In a very short period of time there came an explosion of bands in several countries. It was already early '90s when there were so many followers. You can ask who is trendy -- the guy who in 2000 gets interested in black metal or the guy who jumped in the bandwagon one month after he read some shocking article from Terrorizer. Early '90s had its good things, but it's often full of romanticized things as well. Black metal still is all that it was in the early '90s, but besides it, there is press and labels who try to convince us that some pop music is actually black metal. People are naturally stupid enough to believe that. I don't think that any punks believe that radio-rock like Offspring is actually punk. Metalheads should also see when someone tries to feed them bullshit. In early '90s you have small groups of bands which made black metal into big news. Even Euronymous declared that Mayhem should aim to be big. When it finally is, see what it became. Stories around the mystical band is full of legends which often are not so close to truth we can read between lines. Burzum, another influential name. He did his thing and is now preaching family values. Then you have Emperor, with eyeliners and black nail polish, telling how immature kids they were back then. And the list keeps going. I would not say that it's essential to reach the same hype it was back then. There's no need to have these people pretending they're extreme if they'll change their views as soon as their little fun and excitement is over. Bands who remain strong and keep going like unstoppable force. I think that is what we need.

CoC: But do you believe that this popularity can be used in achieving your objectives?

CB: Popularity does have its advantages. But there are limits. I personally did not know any "metalheads" in my youth. If metal would have been 100% underground, I don't know how long it would have taken to find it. Luckily there was some metal played in radio, so it gave first touch for this type of music, and after that I found my way to the underground by myself.

CoC: Speaking of which, what exactly do you wish to achieve with your music? Can it ever be done?

CB: Purpose of music itself is to satisfy my need to hear something that is suitable for my ear and musical taste. Outside simplest meaning of "music", Clandestine Blaze lyrics and attitude are tied closely to this. I see no reason to make music that doesn't express anything. If people are influenced by my views, and see new ways to think, that is quite a lot achieved.

CoC: Which brings us to your lyrics. Much of it is openly anti-christian. Why do you harbor so much hatred for religion? What is it about religion that you hate so much? Are there no positive points about it at all?

CB: Christianity tries to feed us false values. It starts from the beginning when you are born. In Finland, state and religion walk hand in hand. As member (to a certain extent) of society you are stepped over by values which are grotesque and bullshit. They have love and empathy taken to absurd level, they have worship of the non-existent and enslaving yourself under it. It doesn't end there, they try to take everyone else with it. Rules that should only mean something to those who are christian, are forced upon everyone. To get some trivial examples: if you own a company, you pay tax to church even if you don't belong to one. If you commit some crime during the christmas season, you'll get a harder sentence, because of the supposed birth of the bastard jew. If someone is in coma waiting his death, you can't pull the plug as all life is said to be valuable gift from god. Etc., etc., there are so many details, but we all know it. When christianity teams with state, it all turns to: shut up and work. You reduce yourself as part of lords great plans and serve with a smile on your face. If you want that, be my guest. Your lord, he is not mine. When they force their religion at me, I don't turn the other cheek. It's made clear that I'm not one of them, I'll never be. I blaspheme their "valuable" world for my own satisfaction. It's not a matter of making the world a better place, when absurd christ lovers and liberal humanists are hunted down. It's a matter of individual doing what he wants and what has to be done, not following expectation that outside world has.

CoC: But does it really affect you that much?

CB: I hear someone say "why waste your time, christianity doesn't affect my life at all, I just don't care about it". Well, today a friend told me he was attacked by a couple of junkies last weekend. If christian values would not be so deep in our system, those guys could now be stabbed to death, so they won't bother me or my friends ever again. But no. This absurd christian origin of "brotherly love" makes system to help the lowlife who himself made all the decisions. If you respond attack with force and harm or kill someone in process, you'll be punished and jailed. You should just shut up and turn the cheek, take what is given, pray and wait that those people will be helped and guided back to good christian life. Small things like this prove you're still under the siege of christian values. To know and then show people what YOU stand for can not be bad.

CoC: Whew! OK, so where do you draw these sentiments from? Childhood, perhaps? Or maybe some bad experiences you had? I mean, what made you decide to follow the left hand path?

CB: I follow my own path. Time that I have spent on this world has proven it to be right. I do see myself above the regular people. There's absolutely nothing wrong admitting that. People say "you'll get over this" and "you'll grow up and become a good member of society", but I don't believe that. How can I can possibly respect and learn from people who have not lived one single day in their lives? Their physical age does not give value to their preaching. My way is the right way, it would be absurd to believe otherwise. Why continue if you think you are wrong?

CoC: Some of your lyrics and propaganda is strongly anti-Semitic as well; in fact, even the labels you're on seem to have anti-Semitic connotations. What do you have to say to this?

CB: When I as white man make lyrics of killing other white men, no one sees it as a problem. If I write the same about jews, it makes several people to ask questions. Then I can ask: who is the racist, me or them? Look around in Europe. You can come here from any different culture and practice your religion and form your own cultural movements, but -if- you are white man, in some countries you can't even salute others in a way it was done a few decades ago without getting problems with authorities.

CoC: Is all this expressed hate actually racially motivated, then?

CB: I don't have special deep hatred for some race. I don't necessarily like gypsies or street niggers here, but in general, I don't like average Finns or Swedish speaking minority either! I never write pure fantasy. "Tearing Down Jerusalem", b-side of 7", received some criticism. Look at what jews are doing in Israel? How jewish bankers have acted since times of Napoleon? Should I shut up only because after WWII holocaust jews are taboo subjects which should not be touched? Look at news couple of months ago. United Nations condemned Israel of "large scale and systematic violations of human rights" but European Union and USA openly disagreed with this judgement! We see the obvious, but cowards at our z.o.g. infested governments can't admit it. Zionism, what above mentioned track speaks about, has been declared racial prejudice by United Nations already decades ago. So how the FUCK can Clandestine Blaze give people so many problems when human-loving United Nations have made similar conclusions?! I only have less respect for value of man, therefore I can say kill the scum, while others dream of artificial and unjust peace. Jews are target because of their religion and what comes along it. It's not racial issue for me.

CoC: It's a fine line indeed... haha! The track "Chambers" deals with gas chambers, Zyklon-B, etc.. Are you saying that the Holocaust was actually a desirable event? Does this have anything to do with why your lyrics aren't included on the CD version?

CB: Why lyrics are not included on CD version is because originally thought was to not print lyrics anywhere, but only give them to people upon request. That way it could be seen how many actually valued lyrics and wrote and asked for them. End All Life suggested LP version should have lyric sheet in each copy, and I thought why not, as vinyl buying people are a little different from average CD black metal fan. Anyone who wants lyrics can write or e-mail to get them. All lyrics are available. There is nothing to hide.

CoC: About the song then? Perhaps you'd like to explain it then?

CB: The song "Chambers" does not talk about the past, but it's statement for the future. But it includes influences from past too. Look at second verse, it tells about the fact that most people just submit to this. They dig their own graves, they help the enemy. While they know they will be executed, instead of showing last resistance and either get killed or break free, they choose only to get killed and even help enemy to do it. Groups of people can easily run over one or more armed men, but if people just don't try to change their position, only follow orders and submit quietly, don't they deserve what they get? Third verse talks about the fact that when chambers are filled with gas, people sure won't be nice and full of religious brotherly love. They'll rage and try to find clean air to breath, climb over each other to get oxygen from higher (even if it's not there), violently crush other people to survive themselves. It takes this long to reveal true nature of humans that they have artificially tried to hide. But it is too late then.

CoC: You know it's always tempting to use the label "Nazi"...

CB: Clandestine Blaze is not nazi band. Nazi = national socialist. First of all: I'm not socialist of any kind, and I don't think any black metal should be. Nationalists think that their country or people in it are somewhat special, but I tend to think most people are just meat. Useless flesh, often stupid and unimportant. I don't think any state is different, but as I live in Finland, I can only comment on that. How can I be nationalist in state, where state and religion walks hand in hand? How I could join army when majority of people give oath in the name of god? How could I be nationalist in a state that does not even respect itself, but prostitutes itself and spreads legs with every other nation. How could I be nationalist in a state which is against many things I stand for? Nazism is about conservative values, family values, endless and unquestionable love for white race and your country brothers. You see ns/pagan movement in metal, and sometimes they try to convince they are black metal. But since when was this socialist garbage classified as black metal?! Ten years ago every black metaller from Norway to Poland remembered to tell how LaVey sucked because of his humane and life-loving ideology. Now same people are making "14/88" slogans -- which simply means "save the kids, make good future for our kids". So what has happened? I don't know, but I'd rather masturbate on the bible, shit on the cross and burn the flag. Anti-social and anti-christ. If that doesn't make things clear and I hear once again people saying CB as "nsbm", I must ask how low can man's intelligence go?!

CoC: OK, I'd like to take you back to your previous material, which I haven't heard, unfortunately. How do you feel you've progressed so far from your 7" days? And what direction are you headed in the future?

CB: 7" was third release. It came after debut LP [and one demo -- Alvin]. All the releases are a little different, but still, you could take any of the songs and put it in some other CB release, and it still fits there like fist in the face. There are no plans for new direction. I will keep doing material and everything comes naturally. Simple, raw and primitive black metal from beginning to the end.

CoC: I'm sure you have some plans for your next release... Enlighten us fans: what can we expect from the band in the near future?

CB: Clandestine Blaze / Deathspell Omega split LP, vinyl only, limited to 300 copies. Four songs by CB, three by DO. Total playing time over 40 minutes. All exclusive songs that aren't published elsewhere. After you hear Deathspell Omega music and read the lyrics, there is no doubt who is best French black metal band alive. Soon exclusive track is released on End All Life's compilation LP, vinyl only, 300 copies.

CoC: Do you plan to play live at all? For promotion and exposure, maybe?

CB: No live shows or tours. I have made some plans that could be done on stage, but on the other hand I think CB music is not so live show type of music. No guitar heroes, no exciting drum work to watch, etc.. This music is for special audience, and live shows have a lot of regular metal fans and teenagers. To not play live is not the final decision, but when and where, that's up to many things. Not very soon, that is for sure.

CoC: OK then, that's all for now. Anything to add? Merchandising info etc., maybe?

CB: No merchandise, no web site, no MP3, no free stuff. Contact at: NH, PL 21, 15141 Lahti, Finland. clandestineblaze@hotmail.com. Future lies in hands of the strong .

CoC: Erm... OK. You heard the man...

(article submitted 13/3/2001)


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