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Twilight of the Black Holocaust (1994)

Twilight of the Black Holocaust is the second demo release from Belketre. Along with the likes of Mütiilation, Vlad Tepes and Torgeist, this band was a member of the French Black Legions. Released in 1994, this demo adheres to the sound that most people identify with the LLN. The production is atrocious and there is a strong feeling of hatred that comes across. This material is not on the same level as what would appear on the March to the Black Holocaust split, with Vlad Tepes, but it is somewhat decent.

The music is not very well developed. The first song, "The Dark Promise", does not even sound like black metal until late in the song. The drum rhythm is very pop-oriented and really kills the feeling. The vocal patters follow suit and just really demonstrate how clueless this band was, at the time. "Despair" is a brief instrumental with a mournful vibe, but this is but a fragment of an actual song. "Hate" is even worse, as it is nothing more than a minute of random screaming, unworthy of even being given a title. The only good song on here is the title track, which is very primitive and simplistic but manages to convey a melancholic and hateful feeling. Belketre would have been better off just releasing this as a single.

The production is as awful as one would expect, sounding as if it was recorded on a four-track that was placed about three rooms over from the band. The guitars are very thin and fuzzy, while the drums sound only slightly better than those on the early Mütiilation demos. The vocals seem to have a little too much reverb, at times, but that probably goes along with the very raw and under-produced approach.

This is not a spectacular release, but it is worth checking out for "Twilight of the Black Holocaust", at least. Though there is nothing wrong with "Despair", a much better version is available on the split album, rendering this one kind of useless. This is mostly recommended to those who are already familiar with the Black Legions, as this would not be a good starting place, otherwise.
(28 Nov. 2011)

March to the Black Holocaust (1995)

Vlad Tepes and Belketre were two of the best LLN bands, while seeming to be the complete opposite of one another. Any fan of the Black Legions should be aware of this split, though acquiring it may be quite difficult as it was only produced in 1000 copies. This is, definitely, one of the best LLN releases.

I first heard "Massacre Song From the Devastated Lands", late one night, while listening to "The Haunted Mansion". I was immediately drawn in, yet it would take three more years before I was able to listen to this full album. Once I did, I kicked myself for being so lazy and not trying harder to find it before then.

March to the Black Holocaust offers, probably, the best material Vlad Tepes has ever recorded, and they begin this monumental album with the brief intro, "Wladimir's March". This features somewhat of an upbeat guitar riff and the drumming compliments this well, serving to produce mental imagery of marching through the battlefield, over the corpses of the slain. Vlad Tepes songs, while relatively short, possess an epic feel. Of course, the twelve minute masterpiece, "Drink the Poetry of the Celtic Disciple" takes this to greater limits.

This is not typical black metal. The raw production, dissonate melodies and misanthropic vocals are all present; however, there is a, somewhat, sorrowful yet folky atmosphere that maintains deep roots in old school heavy metal. The production is typical for most of the LLN bands, being raw, yet all of the instruments have room to breathe and are clearly discernible. The drum work is simple, often slow and plodding but usually mid-tempo and keeping rhythm and structure. There's no blasting to be found here. The vocals are done by both members at times. The primary vocalist is not far removed from early Graveland. For Vlad Tepes, this is surprisingly good. The bass is quite audible, being less trebly than one might expect. The album is filled with memorable melodies and riffs that will remain with you. Overall, this is my favorite material from this band.

As for Belketre's half of the split... This is very abrasive, raw and hateful black metal. This is a complete change in style from Vlad Tepes. This is extremely raw, even by black metal standards. The buzzing guitars cut their way through the mix, like a scythe. The vocals are seething with pure hatred for humanity. The guitar riffs are eerie and filled with enough treble to make your ears bleed. The drummer is quite competent, never missing a beat. The bass is low in the mix, though easily audible as it is the only instrument (aside from the bass drum) that actually creates any bass frequencies. The sound quality may be less than ideal, but the musicianship is dead on. This music fills your heart with dread, like being hunted within the impenetrable darkness of your own mind. This music is depraved and nihilistic.

The vocalist deserves much praise for producing some of the most hateful sounds ever caught on tape. The misanthropy spews forth like venom, in a screeching manner. This is not the result of a man 'attempting' to sound evil; it is the sound of a man consumed with pure hatred. This is the predominant feeling created by Belketre; not solitude, sorrow or despair, but hatred.

The majority of the songs alternate between fast drumming and screeching chords and mid-paced drumbeats with eerie melodies. There are a few brief interludes that include slightly distorted guitars playing eerie melodies as guttural, nightmarish vocals reverberate around the speakers. This not only provides a 'break' from the main songs but adds to the ominous atmosphere that is being created. My personal favorite has to be "Night of Sadness", with its sorrowful intro and the hatred being spewed by the vocalist as the guitar riffs twist and gouge at the ears of the listener.

There is no point comparing the two bands, as they are vastly different entities. They both contribute enough quality black metal to make this an essential release. Seek this out at any cost.

(1 Nov. 2009)

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