BELKETRE - March to the Black Holocaust (split)
As black metal matured and diversified, many mini movements started in different countries throughout Europe. In France, a group of bands started a movement called the "French Black Legion" - very similar to the "Black Circle" in Norway during the early nineties. The Black Legion can be characterized by extremely lo-fi production (most of the albums sound like 4 track demo recordings from the 80's), and dark and dismal melodies. The muddiness of the whole thing, adds to the atmosphere.
French Black Legion band, Belketre are one of the more a approachable bands in the Black Legion. At times, they sound like the logical progression of early Bathory, particularly in their vocal approach. March to the Black Holocaust (a split with fellow Legion member, Vlad Tepes) is a grim but varied lo-fi affair, occasionally discordant and ugly, other times, aggressive and downright rocking. This is Belketre's only "official" release. The song(?) "Hate" is 3 minutes of a sloppy clean guitar riff, and down-tuned demon growling, genuinely creepy. "Night of Sadness," is a mid-tempo rocker mixed with atmospheric clean guitar underneath the fuzz. "Those of our Blood" is a more traditional black metal track, erupting into a storm of impossible speed.
I like to approach albums such as these as if they were recordings found in the basement of a creepy cabin in the woods (ala Evil Dead), made by some unknown entity - could be human, or maybe not. I think Belketre is most effective when viewed in this light (or more appropriately, in this "dark"). It's got a very home-grown feeling to it - if they recorded this in the studio, they got ripped off. There's a primitive charm to March to the Black Holocaust, one that will likely be lost on many. There's also the loose connections of black metal and neo-Nazism to consider: the inclusion of the word Holocaust and the given song titles may raise a brow. I choose not to explore such things, the vocals are unintelligible as it is, and no serious political agenda could be communicated through this medium in my mind. It gets a 3.5 out of 5.