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The snare sounds like a god damn spastic woodpecker though. The drumming itself is fine. That sound just bugs the shit out of me. Very flat sounding and perhaps a little too dry. As the title says, this is black metal with folk influences. There are acoustic guitars but the "folk" primarily comes from the riffing. Those familiar with the different types of folk music around the world will know that not all of it sounds like James Taylor or Polka. You'd be surprised how great some of these melodies sound with distortion!
The vocals are quite pleasing as well. Inhuman and raspy as you might expect. Upper mids. Fairly distant and a little wet via reverb and/or delay effects. The ghosts aren't exactly busting out of the crypt after you here, but the vox are nonetheless a very serviceable shriek most of the time.
It's nice to hear lots of cymbals since the production is a tad murky. Crash and ride are worked into the patterns frequently but not constantly. He'll switch over to some kick-heavier passages for the more driving, rhythmic measures. Slower sections appear emphasizing the snare at times. The ubiquitous black metal blasting is present as well. Snare, ride, and kick (or some combination thereof) locked in, perhaps accented differently for different songs. The blast tempos aren't incredibly fast or anything, which I prefer. He spices it up well enough within each song to become a memorable and engaging performance overall.
As I mentioned, the production is augmented for the black metal aesthetic of kvltness. It's done lightly and well, bringing together the atmosphere of "occultism outdoors". This practice is popular among many bands today...and many fail miserably. Not so with Belenos on this release. It has a slightly lo-fi muffled quality without going overboard. Mainly on the guitars and vocals, the drums are quite clear but in a reserved fashion (no fancy EQ, quantization, triggering, etc). I like a little more distance and room sound in general for that evil, cavernous vibe. This album is definitely louder/more compressed than the ideal "raw" sound but that's not the aim here. The bass frequencies have a nice punch to them, too.
The reverence of nature and ancestry has always been a part of black metal. That's basically the main theme here. It's integrated amazingly well, however! The somber acoustic guitars throughout highlight this, as does the storm of fuzzy guitars playing those folky parts I mentioned. The chords themselves are far from new to black metal, but the changes and melodies are unique enough...as is the case with any good black metal band incorporating folk music into their sound. The lyrics are rather hard to discern for me. I imagine he's shrieking about suitably pagan things -- heritage, nature, war, etc.
I chuckled with the brief appearance of some funny sounding clean vox at around three minutes into Voyage Subliminal. Look out! The rest of the cleans are very good though so don't worry. Subtle chanting, half-spoken parts appear in the background occasionally. Nothing campy. This is NOT hippies by the fire singing Kumbaya. This is slightly less gay, crazy-guy-in-the-woods dressed up in Medieval armor. Yes, with black metal you must suspend belief. This is true for metal in general to a large extent. The genre is SO over the top and tongue in cheek that there's a fine line between serious and laughable. Thankfully, Errances Oniriques comes off as pretty damn serious. Your mileage may vary, of course. This is definitely a bit more subtle and majestic than an all out barbaric march to war.
I love death metal, don't get me wrong, but I enjoy how black metal knows when to give your neck a break more often. Black metal is intrinsically more atmospheric than death metal as part of its description and ethos, so therefore it must slow down for its effects to set in. Think of teabagging(not the sexual term): you have to take your time as you let the bags seep so that all the flavors soak in.
Belenos's sophomore album Errances Oniriques follows along these lines. Upon hearing the first track, Morfondu, you're floored by the volley of near-untappable blastbeats the band spews at you with rapid-fire velocity. You try to headbang, but find your efforts futile due to the crazy syncopated rhythm. All you can do is nod convulsively, which arguably makes you look like an idiot. Then, at the drop of a dime the tempo downshifts to mid-level and you hear these wonderful pagan background vocals. These vocals are the vestigial remnants of aeons long ago, a time of ancient rituals and codes of honor. You might hear some acoustic work, and then the song steps up incrementally back to the vicious tempo of its inception and dies down. All the songs(except for two) follow this general ebb and flow, with minor variations. It's a bit unsettling, in a good way, since you'll be hardcore nodding and your equilibrium gets screwed up when the melodic portions surface.
The two songs I pointed out consist of one instrumental and one that masquerades as being an instrumental. The first of these begins with a boldly serene folk respite with no vocals, but this is just a facade as all fury is unleashed about three minutes into the song.(Of course, you can have furious instrumentals, too.) If it was up to me, I would have voted to keep the whole song instrumental, even if it was more of a segue than a work of art. Segues have their places too.The other song is in fact an instrumental, but it sounds so elegant that you'd almost want to call it neoclassical shred or power metal, albeit more reserved. Again, it's only a segue.
These two songs are the most out of character, but you could say the whole album has some points that are out of character. For one thing, you have these ridiculous Bal-Sagothic vocals, which sporadically appear saying "MARCH TO WAR" Yeah, march to fight a horde of mythical minions conjured by an unholy number of geeks. What I'm trying to say here is that these particular vocals sound fantasy-oriented and maybe futuristic. Belenos is pagan black metal, which concerns itself with more historically documented mythology(ies) Secondly, there's occasional Maidenish guitar harmonizing, but that's probably more common than I think in black metal. Hell, I'm just glad that the guitars are given some focus on this album instead of the damn drums drowning everything out.
I'm so glad that I've gotten to hear some black metal with personality and lyrics beside those dealing with Satanism and antichristianity. The pagan themes aren't as tired and the fact that it achieves melody without hackneyed symphonic arrangements is definitely something I can sink my teeth into. I'll have to pay more attention to this genre.
Alas, another album that has amazed me with the very beauty displayed with the typical opus released by Belenos. There are many elements to this album that still continues to amaze me as time goes on and I dig deeper into the inner beauty of the Belenos sound on this album, Errances Oniriques. Belenos, for those unaware of who they are, play black metal in a fashion where traditional values in the musical aesthetic are kept while branching out the music, making it more complex than the average candidate for release in today's black metal underground.
On this album you will hear an ambience of a pagan battlefield which erupts from the darkest wombs of the woods, but the question waiting to be answered in this review is simply, how does a band like this achive such glory in their music, and why are does their albums hold so much value, notably this one?
Belenos have a knack for composing songs with additional passages that are unfamiliar to the average ear of a black metal listener. Belenos incorporate accoustic passages into their music that aquire a more intent listen to understand the absolute significance in the composition. That's what Belenos is, to be short. Their compositions are constructed very well with a classical structure added to the music and overall atmosphere on the album. There are choiristic backing vocals in this album done by a male. The harmonies of the backing choir seems to really add to the spirit and atmosphere of this Belenos release, and make it much more enjoyable. Belenos also enjoy including dark intros in their songs to get a dark feeling before the song continues through it's bountiful musical brilliance throughout this album.
Overall, I would have to say that these compositions compiled on the Belenos album achive a greatness in sound that can't merely be measured with words. I feel that the music is in such brilliance that you will need to give it a listen to complete understand this pagan black metal masterpiece. Be ready for battle as you defend the pagan roots along side with Belenos!
This album is pure gold among black metal. It's pure black metal, don't expect some viking/pagan metal that has many melodic acoustic interludes or any stuff like that. What you should expect, and will have, is one of the best, if not THE best, raw black metal albums of all time, or at least the best to ever come out of France. The vocals in this bring nothing new to black metal, but they ARE very agressive, grim, hateful, and all synonyms that come to mind. The same applies to the drums. This album uses the male choir exactly at the right time in the songs, right when i'm about to think "Hmm, it's getting a bit boring now". The best thing in this album is, by far, the guitar riffs. They're nothing complicated or technical, they're just so magnificiently played, and all that without trying to be pretentious at all. The riffage is very varied on the slower side, and also on the tremolo side. The songs aren't too long or too short, I feel the length for each song is perfect. The album proposes and interlude near the end of the album, but don't start thinking it's some melodic acoustic interlude. It's more like an interlude to prepare yourself for the upcoming headbanging session that will take place in the next two songs. It has two guitars, one doing a simple lead, yet efficient, and the other one doing the bass notes. It IS very melodic, and undoutably the most melodic song on this album. It's an interlude after all, isn't it? The only few flaws this album has is in the beginning of the 8th song, "Le Dernier Pas". The acoustic is the beginning is way too boring, and doesn't have a dark black metal feel at all. It's not bad enough to ruin the whole song though, since after two minutes a raw kick-ass riff comes in to change my mind.
"Errances Oniriques" is this band's best release. All the riffs are well made, and well played. A must for any black metal fans.
For all those of you who have prejudices on french metal, let me proove you wrong. Indeed, listen to this awsome Celtik metal band from our dear Gaul. I myself was shocked by this album, hardly expecting it to be so great!
To convince you of its greatness, listen to this CD of Belenos, and let yourself be taken by the powerful riffs and the crushing drumming, let yourself be taken by the atmospheric passages where the accoustic guitar is of pure magnificance. Sometimes greatfully brutal, Belenos' music knows how to alternate into melodic parts at times, which is what makes it so intense.
The album starts out purely brutal, epyleptic drumming, rageous guitar riffs, and screaching singing, in one word : awsome. Indeed Belenos has quite a talent for powerful compositions. Then comes riff to riff parts always accompanied by powerful drumming and a very black metal singing. But always these accoustic interludes which give us a wonderful pause. Wonderful for the nice break they give to our ears and for the atmosphere they give to the album. The release also contains masterpiece passages like in 'Dernière Rencontre' where slowly the guitar gives us magical tunes acompanied by the drums which progressively become more and more powerful and then... its pur musical thrill. A very good ending song for the album.
This was an enormously pleasant surprise, all of you pagan black metallers,... buy this album.