mardi 18 octobre 2016

Belenos - Kornog
Pagan Metal / Black Metal / Atmospheric Black Metal

Review Summary: A heavy Celtic trip to Brittany.

Hailing from Brittany (West of France) Belenos was created as a one-man-project by Loic Cellier in 1995. Behind this project was a will to sing about Brittany’s culture (Belenos being the Celtic god of the Sun) and this has been taken further since the lyrics have been sung in Breton since 2010’s Yen Sonn Gardis, the old Celtic language of Brittany. Influenced by Norway’s early Black Metal scene (Enslaved, Burzum, Emperor) in terms of technicality, Belenos uses the dark and slow parts of Pagan Metal to allow the listener to visualize a travel to the wild, dark moors and traditions of the Celtic Lands.

The mix of Black Metal and Pagan Metal allows Loic to build a thick wall of guitar and drums and add melodies through the choir and lead guitar. This record is a constant mix of fast paced aggressive Black Metal and slower melodic parts with clean singing usually in a choir style. Loic plays all instruments in studio and recruited live players for shows, yet none of the instruments feel simply played, whether on blast beats, lead guitars, the awesome and dynamic vocals or the few bass lines that helps craft the different section of songs together. Some of the best example of this are on the first two songs, with the opener Kornog and its follower Sklosenn Ur Vag. A nice addition to the traditional guitar, bass and drums are the use of traditional instruments to introduce most of the songs or are used to bring melodies and change the pace of the songs. Sometimes using Nature’s sounds like the waves of the first songs, it gives this album an atmosphere that is proper to Brittany’s culture of Sea life. 

Although that mix of influence makes for a very pleasant experience, the album doesn’t bring anything else to the table, and with songs lasting for no less than six minute (apart from the interlude Treizhadenn-noz and the closer Lusenn An Ankou) the lack of differences between the songs can create a sense of déjà vu after a few listens. What saves this record from a repetition of the same formula and thus being boring is the diversity of sounds used during the slower parts. Another high point of this record is the quality of the production. Clean yet keeping the dark and raw atmosphere of Black Metal. The addition of female vocals of Armorika creates a surreal and beautiful atmosphere before heading to a mesmerizing black metal verse that later changes into a slower paced choir lead atmosphere.

Choosing a highlight on this record is quite difficult as most of the songs resemble each other, but Armorika, the opener Kornog and the twelve minute epic D’an Usved are some of the best songs in this record. Having visited Brittany a few times, I can confirm that this album transcends the atmosphere of this region of France quite well. The fast paced guitars and drums act like the storm-like winds and heavy rains that this region is known for yet the beautiful choirs and melodies are similar to the beautiful and mystic Celtic culture and way of life.

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