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PoBDZ3: Odd mix of Black Metal, goth and NWOBHM - 75%

vrag_moj, July 4th, 2009

This New Zealand artist is a bit of an oddity for somebody who has been in the suicidally unprofitable business of making extreme metal for this long. Odd, because you don't hear about them very much, though there is a string of releases stretching back from present time to the year 1993.

Here is the earliest that is still available. Whilst the later recordings contain frequent forays into gothic rock, the style here is old-style Black Metal. There are many aspects of this which will turn your average Black Metal fan away. For instance, the band employs keyboards which at the time would have been fine, because bands like Dimmu and Cradle were still producing good music but soon after the issue polarised the Black Metal fandom, where it became almost impossible to see beyond the arguments for and against those artists?work, which essentially resulted in anyone who dared use keys being accused of aping "sell-out" bands. Meanwhile here was Beltane playing their orphaned hybrid of 70's heavy metal and 80's Black Metal music live and quite unashamed of using drum machines and semi-clean vocals.

The guitars definitely take centre-stage here. Whilst this is not anywhere near as versatile as Jimmy Hendrix or Tommy Iommy's work, the spirit is definitely there and with a lot more distortion made available to guitarists with contemporary effects modules. The singer produces horrible groans with his throat that together with the coarse musical abandon remind me of some of the more extreme NWOBHM.

14 years onwards, this 5-track EP sound pleasantly vintage and for all its failings I cannot actually find fault with it. This is a very unusual release, tragically misplaced, from a band that seems to remain so to this day. The feeling that it gives me is closer to that produced by listening to old 70's acid rock like Uriah Heep, rather than Beltane's contemporaries Mayhem and Abigor in the sense that I totally get into the music, but can feel that the original spirit is elusive because I was not there at the time. And for this reason, I think this recording is worth a second glance from you, my readers.

Originally published in Procession of Black Doom zine #3