Label: Black Lion Records
Though it came out in 2016, ‘Hanter Savet’ is seeing a re-release which brought it to my attention and I felt it would be fine to cover it then. It’s the first full length for the band Vindland, who hails from Brittany, the coastal region in France with a dense history and distinct culture. Vindland embodies that.
The sound of the band must make some people think of another group from Sogndal, Norway and smile with a certain melancholy. A noteworthy fact is that all lyrics are in the native Celtic dialect of the region, which is carefully preserved and expresses the Breton identity. Members of the band are or have been active in the grand-sounding Belenos too, so they know how to spin a tale.
It’s a bit odd to hear a band sound so much like Windir did back in the day, but that’s exactly what the epic sound of Vindland promises with the big, majestic riffing. It’s soaring, heroism is catchy and warms the heart of a passionate fantasy-reader like myself. The keys and crisp production really help to emphasize that side of the band. Particularly on songs like ‘Serr-Nozz’ and ‘Treuzwelus’. The tight, battle-ready rhythms of songs like ‘Skleur Dallus’ do their part in turn.
It’s the melodies that really work their magic in the sound of Vindland. Those are the story tellers, that illuminate castle ruins and forgotten wisdom of the ancient Breton lands. Sometimes the downside of the keys and production is the lack of certain organic aspects to the music. Never is Vindland dull or insincere, but the fade in sometimes lacks the natural feel (like on ‘Skorneg Du’). On the other hand, the Breton language offers a whole different dimension and the rock’n’rolling sound definitely catches on easily.
As we move towards the end with ‘Kreud Ar Gwez’, we hear meandering, acoustic tones and the Atlantic winds. The beautiful shores, from where brave ships have sailed and where so much vital history took place. It tells its own story, while we still remember.
Label:Northern Silence Productions
The Celtic mythology is not the most common topic for heavy metal music, though bands like Eluveitie definitely allowed it to become a part of the folk metal world in a more serious manner. The trick is just to avoid becoming the new party band and sounding too much like Alestorm and Ensiferum. I think that Belenos will not soon succumb to that with their dense and atmospheric pagan metal.
It’s the seventh album by this band of Loïc Cellier, which has been around for 21 years now. The sound is a blend of black metal with folk/pagan elements. The bandname refers to the Celtic deity of the sun Belenos, often mentioned in the Asterix and Obelix comics, if you happen to know those. Because… he might drop the sky on your heads, which is a fitting bridge to starting to tell you how heavy and dense ‘Kornôg’ sounds.
The sound of Belenos is grand, majestic and still holding on to the essential blackened pagan vibe that the band is going for. Still, the manage to tell their story very well thanks to the thick layers of atmospheric guitar riffs. Thet band from Brittany can do the deep guttural passages, while still throwing whirling synths at you, keeping your interest peeked on all fronts.
All blast beats aside, I feel this album does allow you to dream away to ancient days where the Celts roamed these lands. The deep baritone chanting now and then brings that forward a bit like Heidevolk does. Another band that manaes to avoid the cheesy (though sometimes barely). The rabid progressions are sometims a bit odd, catching you unaware, like on ‘E Donder ar mor’. It may be my personal interest, but when listening to ‘Armorika’ I find myself wishing for more clean parts and folk elements. I think its a personal thing.
Belenos does not bore for a second on this epic album, neither do they stray far from their sound. That makes this record so much fun to listen to. It’s raucous fury, but also its beautiful passages take me away on its waves. A grand record for sure, though admittedly an acquired taste.