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Chants de Belenos - 80%

PigfaceChristus, July 8th, 2010

“Chants de Bataille” is a necessarily aggressive album, but it still contains the musical diversity that makes Belenos’ style so interesting. Acoustic interludes galore, clean choir-like vocal passages, and folk elements—all these make an appearance, along with high-velocity black metal. Loïc Cellier, as the band’s mastermind, is once again at the top of his game, delivering both caustic screams and furious riffs at the same time. “Chants de Bataille” might not quite have the epic atmosphere to spur warriors into battle, but it captures a more nostalgic take on past times, while staying true to Belenos’ personality and standing out in a sometimes bland genre.

“Chants de Bataille,” in regards to the main tracks, contains some of the band’s most cohesive compositions. The music is still as diverse as ever, varying up the tempo and calling on folk influences when necessary, but perhaps it’s the pristine production that makes many of the album’s black metal tracks so memorable. The production leaves nothing muddled, and it’s this clarity that makes the songs stay in the listener’s mind. When I think of Belenos, the first song that comes to mind is “Sacrifiés.” It opens with the glorious “oooh-ing” of Cellier’s clean vocals over the rushing of the drums and the crunching of the guitars. After making good on black metal, it returns to this call-to-war atmosphere with Cellier bellowing out something in French and an acoustic guitar meshing with the distorted ones.

There can really be no complaint made about the album when it comes to instrumentation. Cellier has always provided his music with diverse elements, furnished by a variety of metal’s subgenres and beyond. In addition, the drummer here, Gilles Delecroix, is more than capable of supplying aggression and diversity. The biggest flaw of “Chants de Bataille,” however, has very little to do with the music and everything to do with the album’s structure.

“Chants de Bataille” is filled with instrumental tracks that blur the line between filler and necessity. Most of them offer nothing but acoustic interludes, which are refreshing breaks between the album’s more aggressive tracks, but they wouldn’t come across as so unnecessary if the black metal tracks didn’t already have acoustic breaks of their own. Furthermore, very few are overtly folk and only contribute the sort of vague atmosphere you’ve heard before in a dozen acoustic interludes, to the point where some of these tracks wouldn’t be out of place as filler on another release. They aren’t badly composed or instrumented by any means but, when they comprise about a fourth of the album’s runtime (counting “Ode” and “P.M.Q.F”), their necessity becomes questionable.

“Ode” gets by as an intro, and many of the others, with their haunted acoustic chords, are passable. “Galv Av Brezel” is the most folk, and its meandering usage of a fiddle and a Celtic pipe make it the most interesting. In “Prélude Guerrier,” the filler becomes an ear-sore, as its bombastic keyboards seem entirely inappropriate for this release. Sure, “Chants de Bataille” ought to have warlike music, but Belenos accomplish this in their skillful alteration between lumbering marches and outright violent sprints in their black metal tracks. “Prélude Guerrier” is just overkill.

I understand I’ve ignored the main substance of the album by picking on the filler, but really the black metal tracks are as well-executed as any fans of the band will expect. With Cellier behind the wheel, they are more than adequate in veering “Chants de Bataille” away from what could have been a mediocre fate. The album is still light-years ahead of most of black metal’s stagnant releases and holds its ground firmly in Belenos’ discography. “Chants de Bataille” should not be ignored, and in many ways the frequent breaks between black metal tracks and the accessible production give the album lasting longevity.

Mesmerizing - 95%

Sargon_The_Terrible, December 4th, 2007

Always get good stuff from Adipocere, and I can't tell if that's because the label just rules or the French scene is so awesome. But every time I turn over a rock, I discover another great French band. Belenos (named for the Celtic fire god), have been around for a while, and this is their fourth full-length album of Pagan/Black/Folk Metal, and it's a highly impressive work.

Not surprising that there is a heavy similarity to fellow countrymen Himinbjorg in this music. Belenos play catchy, riffy, epic Black Metal heavily flavored with Folk music and not addicted to speed. The riffs are really excellent here, very memorable and visceral. I was told that this was not as good as their older albums, which I had not heard, so I checked them out before rating this, and, well, I still think this is their best work. Previous albums were more direct, without the instrumental interludes that alternate with proper songs on this album. Some people might find the interludes wasted, and sometimes when bands do this sort of thing, I would tend to agree. But the interludes here really fit, and I find they enhance and fulfill the mood and feel of the album, increasing its epic qualities. Listening to this full disc is a real journey, not just an album you throw in for background noise.

So while this may not be on a par with a masterpiece like Himinbjorg's "Europa", it is still a first-rate album by a fine band. I can already tell this one will end up on my top list for 2006, as I haven't been able to pry it out of my player for weeks now. Recommended.

Originally written for www.metalcrypt.com

Absolutely Stunning! - 100%

LordBelketraya, June 6th, 2006

Chants De Bataille (Chants Of Battle or Battle Chant, see French ain't that hard) is simply an amazing piece of work. I found out about this band by luck, some people were mentioning bands from France that are really good. Belenos was one of the names mentioned, I decided to download their music first to get ahold of they sound like. This was before I realized that their music on CD or MP3 format are both equally difficult to find. This music just blew me away when I heard it the first time.

There are 14 songs, all the even numbered titles are full length songs while the odd numbered ones are usually 1 minute interludes or "chants". Now I know one mentioned that he found it annoying because one interlude is enough for an album. I disagree, for something like this I find it to enhance the atmosphere even more! This is a combination of Pagan Black Metal with Celtic overtones, there's definitely a "battle" feel to the songs. The interludes just give a pause and release from all the tension in the full length songs.

Everything here is played to perfection, the drums are just brilliant, the guitars drone along perfectly and Loic Cellier's voice just cries of war! I'm not the biggest Pagan Black Metal fan, (I generally prefer raw low production black metal) but this is just perfect music and it can't be dismissed by any fan of good black metal music, whether it's Black, Viking, Pagan or NSBM. The songs are played with such speed, cohesiveness and melodic aggression, all at the same time and that's the stuff only great Black metal bands can pull off. These guys have made me a big fan, now I have to hear more of their stuff and hopefully they make it a little easier to obtain. Do not miss out on this band, they are terribly underrated.

What the fuck? What happened? - 50%

KayTeeBee, February 23rd, 2006

What's wrong with Black Metal this year? So far, it seems like Death Metal is taking an advance over Black Metal. This is also another album I had highly expected, moreso than the new Eikensaden. I gave 97% to their previous effort, 'Spicilège', and as you also probably guessed it, this is nowhere near as good. The most irritating thing about this album are those interludes. Out of the 14 songs, there's 7 interludes. 1 was enough on Spicilège, why would you need 7 here? Anyways, even if you skip the interludes, you'll still be disappointed.

Alright, for the interludes, they're usually chants or stuff like that, mixed with some acoustics. Sure it's lovely, once. Seing it 7 times makes you want to skip the whole album, in fact it makes you want to stop listening to this album. The guitar tone is a bit different, mixed with some modified riffs. There's nothing wrong with them, but after a while, you realize that the magic from Spicilège isn't there anymore. You don't remember the riffs in your head forever. There are no flutes or any lovely stuff like that, just the same riffs, repeated over and over again, straight from the recording sessions of Spicilège.

I don't want to spend any more time on this album. I'm incredibly disappointed. Stealing riffs from other albums, unmemorable, boring overdone interludes, you name it, it's here. I wouldn't even recommend this piece of Garbage to the biggest Belenos fan.