Many bands take old recordings and re-release them to make them available to a wider audience and some chosen few go one step further and actually completely re-record the old material and even add two previously unreleased bonus tracks on top of it. French one man army BELENOS is one of the few falling into the latter category, now making their long sold out debut “Errances Oniriques” available to the fans worldwide (and compared to the original also with the tracklist a little jumbled up) and as far as the production is concerned, this is a complete success, as the sound is clear and powerful, fitting the compositions contained here.
Now who is not familiar with BELENOS yet, Loic Cellier has been building his own niche with Celtic influenced Pagan/Black Metal, which at that time still was a little gruffer than on the later material, but even at this early stage in his career, Loic proves that he has exceptional talent to mesh raw Black Metal with great melodies, good atmosphere and a lot of variety into a cohesive whole that should appeal to a fair amount of listeners out there. As said the foundation is deeply rooted in Black Metal, including blastbeats, harsh vocals and the guitar sound, but it is what is woven into this that makes BELENOS’ compositions something special, as melodies weave through the intensity, little details and quiet breaks inject both variety and atmosphere, while some light choir singing forms a nice contrast to Loic’s otherwise fairly visceral vocal attack.
And his vocals are the probably most constant element in the BELENOS sound, whereas on later albums he also uses excellent clean vocals they here are limited to some light choir, which is a nice added touch, but he definitely did the right thing later on by expanding them for best effect. But enough of the future, let’s concentrate a little more on what we have here. It is the variety he brings in that makes “Errances Oniriques” the interesting listen, because of the balance between heaviness, atmosphere and melodies, making it hard to really single out certain songs, but if I had to mention some highlights, then opener “Le Domaine Des Songs Acte II”, “Morfondu” and “Le Dernier Pas” would have to be pointed out. The two bonus tracks “Seigneur De l’Obscurité” and “Serment De Vengeance” are very, very epic, unfortunately I don’t have any info right now, which year they are from, but they are an excellent addition to this.
BELENOS definitely are one of the most consistent and by now also important bands of the French Folk/Pagan/Black Metal scene (and with bands such as AES DANA, HEOL TELWEN, BRAN BARR, NYDVIND etc.) there is quite some competition out there. Even if you own the original, such as myself, the sheer improvement in sound quality and the two extra track, it still warrants to get this release!
(Online December 4, 2009)