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Belenos, formed in 1995 in Beaurains, France, has been at the forefront of pagan black metal scene for the last ten years. It’s now been many years since I’ve discovered their first two albums, the very raw and agressive Errances Oniriques and the melodic/pagan-sounding Spicilège, which have always ranked among my favourite black metal albums. Needless to say, Belenos is a band that has had a profound effect on me, and I consider myself a lifelong fan of this group. Belenos is now a one-man project consisting of sole member Loïc Cellier.
Yen Sonn Gardis sees Cellier mixing the raw black metal of Belenos’ earlier offerings with the more melodic and pagan-sounding black metal that we heard on their later releases such as Chants de Bataille. As a first for a Belenos album, the album is entirely sung in the Breton language. Upon the first few listens, it becomes obvious that much work has been put into this album, both in terms of production value and compositions. The riffs scream Belenos loud and proud, playing the same type of riffs that they (he) has played for a while now.
I can’t knock this album at all in terms of song structures, production or vocal performance. It’s obvious to anyone who’s heard Belenos in the past that the music sounds professional and always satisfies those who have a craving for Pagan black metal without having to compromise brutality or rawness in any shape or form. However, it seems that after letting this album sink in with a few listens, the songs kind of get lost in the shuffle. I can tell you now that to me, the only song that really stands out is Hollved Hirisus, the second track. As much as I’ve heard the other tracks on the album, I couldn’t really tell you what they sound like. This is something that I accused 2006′s Chants de Bataille quite a bit, and something that ruined that album a bit for me.
Still, for anyone who’s new to Pagan black metal and waits to hear a brand of it that doesn’t do any compromise and can still deliver, Yen Sonn Gardis can deliver. As per usual, there are still unique elements that will make this album more enjoyable than most of the other Pagan BM that’s out there: the Gregorian chants which are beautifully sung, the immaculate production and the truly epic feel. But for those who are already fans of Belenos or Pagan BM, you’ll have to check this one out for yourself to truly decide whether it’s truly magnificient or slightly redundant. Regardless, Belenos is still one of the top Black metal bands around today.
Originally written for http://metalreviews0.wordpress.com/.