Belenos - Yen Sonn Gardis
Northern Silence Productions
Folk/Pagan Black Metal
9 songs (45:00)
Release year: 2010
Northern Silence
Reviewed by Vrechek
Surprise of the month

This is the first of two albums I am reviewing from a small label called Northern Silence Productions which, if these bands are any indication, releases some good quality underground French Pagan Metal. It may sound a bit odd, but currently one man band Belenos crafts some furious Black/Viking based Metal as far from a fjord as I am. Admittedly, I have not heard any of the band's previous material so I cannot accurately judge whether this is stale and rehashed or as fresh as a spring daisy, but regardless I must admit that this is a fine piece of work.

I won't claim this is original by any means; Hell, the beginning of Skorn ha Tan is a clear homage to the Dissection anthem Where Dead Angels Lie and the bulk of the album reminds me of quite a lot of the recent Folk/Black trend in terms of production and guitar technique. Perhaps this band has been playing this style long before everyone else, but in that case it would have been nice for them to up the ante a little bit. It is unfortunate then, that I don't see this album having all that much replay value down the road, as I'm already starting to lose interest in it. Still, originality and uniqueness only gets you so far, which is where the competency of Belenos' writing and skill swoops in to save the album.

While Belenos seems to be all about Celtic heritage in terms of image and theme, I don't think that comes across very clearly in the music found on Yen Sonn Gardis. To my ears it sounds like a folk-edged, modern interpretation of some early Enslaved albums. It isn't as cold and sharp as Frost, it isn't as warm and hypnotic as Vikingligr Veldi, nor is it as fuzzy and epic as Eld, but it does evoke a similar sort of atmosphere of those classics. Melodic albeit bitter riffs cycle in and out in a loop with violin, acoustic guitar, and chanting brought in for good measure. If the songs were any longer they'd be repetitive as all hell, but somehow Belenos (usually) manage to switch out a riff as soon as you might start getting bored.

My favorite track by far here is the first (real) one, Hollved Hirisus. It's pretty much a perfect example of what I mean by not particularly original but particularly well executed. Fast, vicious, beautiful, and with a grand crescendo to a storming climax, this is the shining example for Yen Sonn Gardis at its best. Most of the other tracks echo the grandness of the first, making a lot of it seem a tad samey (through no fault of their own, as the first track of the album is heard before the ears get tired). The only other track that I feel breaks the mold of the rest of the album to any great degree is Gorsedd, what with its heavier folk accentuation and heathenish swagger. Also one of the longest cuts from Yen Sonn Gardis, Gorsedd is my other personal favorite after Hollved Hirisus.

Yenn Sonn Gardis doesn't break any new ground, however I won't go so far as to say it's run of the mill or average. Yes, you'll probably have heard something quite like this before, however it's pulled off so well that it doesn't matter all that much. My main problem with it is that it starts to feel a little too familiar after a short time with it; I may not listen to this too many times more save for a few tracks here and there when the mood strikes. Still, this is far from a poor effort on Belenos part, and it has convinced to look deeper into their discography.

Killing Songs :
Hollved Hirisus, Gorsedd
Vrechek quoted 81 / 100
Other albums by Belenos that we have reviewed:
Belenos - L'Ancien Temps reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
Belenos - Chemins de Souffrance reviewed by Alex and quoted 83 / 100
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