Underground Sounds: Belenos – Kornôg

Label:Northern Silence Productions
Band: Belenos
Origin: France

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.

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