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Raw and hateful black metal with a lot of variety - 85%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, February 7th, 2007

I only wish this recording was at least 15 minutes longer! This is raw and hateful French black metal and the bad sound quality throughout this CD adds to the negative emotions expressed and the aggressive music. There are 10 tracks on my Tragic Empire Rex copy of this recording of which I prefer the all-instrumental intro (a guitar siren repeating a basic riff over and over against fluttering distorted machine-like rhythm buzz) and the outro in which two sets of guitar riffs sound off in parallel like lonely foghorns: both pieces are very desolate, slow and sombre, and are about as minimal as raw black metal can possibly be. Incidentally all tracks have titles but they are in an esoteric language often used by the French Black Legions bands, of which Belketre is one of the more famous along with Mutiilation and Vlad Tepes, to name their songs and recordings (like this one) and often their projects and side-projects so for the sake of convenience I will refer to particular tracks as track 1, track 2 and so on. My copy does not include the song "Twilight of the Black Holocaust".

Between tracks 1 and 10 you have 8 pieces that are more rock-oriented and structured as songs with punk influences, fast and angry rhythms, and very rasp singing that occasionally includes screaming which sounds like leopard roars. The poor sound which has a lot of frizzly static makes the songs seem quite monstrous; the bass guitar especially has a gargantuan sound that gives the music a soundtrack kind of feel which explains why I think the album should be longer (such a huge sound seems wasted on short songs!); and there is often a long continuous drone going on in the background which gives the music an oppressive quality.

For such fast, grim and blasphemous music, many songs here actually have quite catchy melodies and riffs: track 2 which has a repeating riff of wailing siren guitar that fades off into the background is a good example as is also track 3 which has quite a good groove under the blastbeats. Track 5 is a surprise, being a pounding throbbing drum rhythm beast beating against your speakers and always on the verge of breaking out while foreboding tones hover in the background. Track 6 can be chaotic but has a stupendous sound and a lightning-fast guitar solo: this is one track that could have been expanded as there are many good things going on, a catchy rhythm here, ominous riffs there, thumping drums elsewhere and always, always that horrid drone. Strange voices that might have come from weird alien / robot hybrid beings appear on track 8.

Overall this is a very good recording with a lot of ideas and a surprising variety which isn't apparent at first under all that fuzzed static and the rasping vocals. The instrumental tracks indicate a willingness to experiment with sound and rhythm, and possibly in another life in years to come these Belketre buys may be scoring music for movies, TV, video games and theatre productions. (No, I do not have soap operas or ballet stuff in mind.) The whole recording, though based on self-contained songs, does have a unified soundtrack feel due to the fuzzy production and the ever-present drone which hovers about like a malevolent god overseeing Belketre's activity.

A journey with no return... - 86%

cinedracusio, May 22nd, 2006

Man, is this thing ugly.
In my opinion, this, along with Mutiilation's first two full-lengths, keeps the Black Legions' torch raised in the air with infinite pride. No, I am not kissing ass. This is one of the greatest and most overlooked releases that ever sinked into the black metal underground.
The beginning is simply top-notch. Nortt? Wormphlegm? What are you talking about? This is the purest introduction to the other world. For 3 minutes, a very ugly, wailing riff is played and accompanied by summary feedback from a more high-pitched guitar. This riff is essential, it sounds disgusted and fed up with life (no exaggeration here). Well, after this we have a re-mastered version, I guess, of their track The Dark Promise found on both 1993 and 1994 recordings. Anyway, if you want to check it out, take the review from the demo. After this we are being treated with a brief blasting mayhem (like all the tracks here), with a very simple, but dissonant and disturbing riff. The vocals are fucking hateful. I guess that both Vordb and Aakon screamed on this album, and the result is incredible, just like two lost souls, outshining many of their warbrothers. The song contains a little mid-paced section, with a melody which would have sounded almost rocky but its notes are pervertedly stretched. Then the blasting again and everything stops.
However, this second proper track is no match to the others. For example, the third original track, sounding almost thrashy, and also containing a heavily distorted and dissonant riff, and a chaotic and fast solo.
Another example, the sixth track, where we face a creepy introductive doom melody. But the melody is quickly followed by a technical drum style that would make even a tech death band cry. Vordb takes a fast rhythm, then turns it to hyperspeed, then comes back to a death metal styled double bass and dives again into a ridiculously fast rhythm. The middle breakdown (sandwiched between two solos!) is also worthy, with a vengeful riff in it.
Other really good tracks (and my favourites) are represented by the ninth track, and the longest one, which succeeds in sounding very desolate, without getting too monotonous and ends in a distant sounding acoustic passage, and the last one, with a structure similar to the introduction, meaning a four-note rawer sounding riff accompanied by a sorrowful and almost tender guitar line, with the keyboards topping. The demo also contained a re-mastered version of Twilight Of The Black Holocaust, but nothing better than you could expect on the original track. To some of the listeners track 5 might also sound pretty pointless (I was close to this conclusion), just one and a half minute of blasting (but otherwise some fine riff work!)
The singular and giant flaw that made this album an acquired taste is the production, which can be intolerable even for black metal standards. The guitars are buried, and so are the drums, so you cannot decipher the gems this thing holds unless you are a bat or something like that (I wonder if somebody would like to be my Catwoman, hehe, what a shitty joke). Hellhammer said once that the sole purpose of bad production is hiding the lack of talent, but he was wrong here. That buzzing and humming production needed to be purged in some degree of all the static, but the guys didn't give a shit on our opinions, so... Anyway, the vocals are my favourite in the black metal genre, very venomous and high-pitched. And since I heard the hype about the LLN gettin' doped to make their music, I could make some connections between their altered states and the riffs deformed beyond any human or inhuman recognition.
As a conclusion: get schooled, dudes. I mean get this shit now!

Brilliant Music - 90%

Taliesin, October 15th, 2005

Belketre offer a dark vision, creating some of the most haunting and frightening music I have heard. Very obviously a major influence upon Malefic of Xasthur, Belketre uses strangly distorted guitars, violent vocals, very offsetting and disturbing guitar riffs and loud Black Legions sounding drums. The production is best called a lack thereof, like all Black Legions bands, but creates a dark disturbing and dungeon like ambience that isn't unique, but in their hands it become original.
Essential for all fans of true black metal in particular the Black Legions. Belketre were along with Mutiilation and Vlad Tepes, one of the absolute best Legions Noire bands.