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Essentially grimness - 90%

JJM1, July 2nd, 2013

When I look back on it all, I suppose it was right at the turn of the millennium that I became rightly obsessed with all things black metal. I had heard the name before, seen photos of the bands, but never actually heard anything or knew anything about what it was all about. I introduced myself to the common bands at the time; Emperor, Dimmu Borgir, Cradle of Filth, Immortal and Satyricon - I knew that I'd come across a genre that I'd love the rest of my life. It was something immensely special and unique and to an extent still very much is today, but little did I know that five years earlier far off in France a group of musicians and bands calling themselves the "Les Légions Noires" or "The Black Legion" had already wrote off modern day black metal as being trendy, fake and essentially dead.

'March to the Black Holocaust' was Vlad Tepes and Beletre's middle finger salute to all the trendies of the day and beyond and they delivered this message with astounding results.

Vlad Tepes
Formed in '92, Vlad Tepes' two-man crew of Vorlok (bass & vocals) & Wlad (vocals, guitars and drums) issued several demos and two splits throughout the 90's before ultimately breaking up in '98 and apparently retiring from the genre forever. The two deliver raw, minimal and highly atmospheric black metal fueled by hate, forged on the standards of the past and a vibe not exactly common these days.

'Wladimir's March' is a short but instantly appealing intro that has a catchy sort of folky or epic lead riff that leads directly into 'Massacre Song from the Devastated Lands,' which is a relentless misanthropic romp of utterly cold sounding black metal. 'In Holocaust to the Natural Darkness' is total Bathory worship that brings the listener back to '84 in mere seconds, while 'Drink the Poetry of the Celtic Disciple' completely freezes my arteries for its twelve minute duration as it moves through speedier paces to gloomy dirges and even some moments of majestic excellence that's complete with thrilling solos and honestly some of the best riffs you'll ever hear in black metal music. No doubt a masterpiece, but what a crime to think that I ignored this band for so damn long! The remaining four songs hardly relent in quality either, especially 'Misery Fear & Storm Hunger' & 'Under the Carpathian Yoke,' which just fucking rip! Notably the entire recording plays out as a rehearsal with each track bleeding right into each other, which is an interesting but quite effective way to not lose the listeners attention for a moment, which is exactly the case with these songs.

Originally formed in '89 under the name 'Chapel of Ghouls' and then known as 'Zelda' between '91-'92, the band eventually settled on the name of Belkètre and much like Vlad Tepes released just demos and splits throughout their existence, which came to an end in '96. Similarly a two-man band, Vordb Dréagvor Uèzréèvb and Aäkon Këëtrëh played in several bands in the 90's but quit all activities before the passing into a new millennium.

Belkètre forgoes the obvious Bathory and more active nature of Vlad Tepes' songs in favor of something that's both mid-paced as well as speedy and always cold, very under produced and generally quite depressive and dark in its overall scope. 'Guilty' is just total blackened gloom interspaced with a few moments of merciless hatred, whereas 'A Day Will Dawn' is just malice in audio form, though the production being what it is, its hard to decipher the riffs, but maybe they were not even intended to be heard. 'Hate' is an otherworldly piece intermingled with demonic beast growls that's really unlike anything I've ever heard before, while 'Last Sigh of God' is two minutes of ferociousness. And again the remaining four tracks are all above average, though I'd say that Belkètre's music is less accessible than Vlad Tepes, but my no means bad or anything, its just the embodiment of hate filled raw black metal.

As a whole black metal of this variety will be completely hit or miss with most listeners. There's nothing cute or fancy about these songs, its just black metal played in the truest and evilest manner imaginable. As such, its quite recommended to those that want to see this particular side of the genre performed with absolute excellence.

Originally Published at Lunar Hypnosis: