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VLAD TEPES / BELKETRE  March To The Black Holocaust  CD   (Drakkar Productions)   14.98
March To The Black Holocaust IS CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLE FOR ORDER

The handful of releases that French black metallers Vlad Tepes put out back in the 90s have gone in and out of print over the years, usually only appearing in some new limited edition release for a moment before selling out, but now we've finally gotten these classic discs of noisy LLN blackness in stock via the new Drakkar reissues, and I've been playing the hell out of 'em. A key player in the now legendary Les Légions Noires, Vlad Tepes were one of the more straightforward sounding bands to come out of this loosely-knit black metal scene that emerged in France in the early 90s (and which also featured the likes of Mütiilation, Belkètre, Moëvöt, Susvourtre, Vèrmyapre Kommando, and Torgeist), though when we're talking about any of the bands that were part of the LLN, even the more traditional sounding bands still sounded plenty fucked-up and chaotic. And like almost all of the LLN bands, Vlad Tepes were only around for a brief time, releasing a handful of cassettes and splits between 1994 and 1996, but their stuff has been avidly sought after by fans of weird black metal ever since.

The extremely rare 1995 split March To The Black Holocaust featured Vlad Tepes teaming up with another LLN band, Belketre, making this another highly sought-after recording from the Black Legions underground. On their side, Vlad Tepes delivered a bunch of songs that had previously appeared on their earlier demo/rehearsal recordings; the duo open with the weird folk-flecked shanty "Wladimir's March", a short instrumental track that starts off their side with a super catchy Burzumic hook before hurtling into the blown-out swarming violence of "Massacre Song From The Devastated Lands". As with their debut, the sound here is ultra distorted and completely in the fuckin' red, the guitars pushed into serious treble overload, but somehow never overwhelming the catchy melodic riffs. Touches of discordance give the music an added evil edge along with the frog-croak vocals and heavy sheen of low-fi sonic filth; there's a ripping version of "In Holocaust To The Natural Darkness" that first showed up on a filthy rehearsal recording (featured on the Cd reissue of their first demo), but here it sounds even more ferocious, and the song "Diabolical Reaps" is the nastiest dose of rabid blackened punk that Vlad Tepes ever recorded. Another favorite included here is the majestic "Drink The Poetry Of The Celtic Disciple"; its a masterpiece of hateful, magisterial low-fi black metal, with a series of riffs that most modern downer-BM outfits would KILL for - in fact, this song was later covered by Codeine's Chris Brokaw on his solo album Canaris, weirdly enough.

Another incestuous Black Legions project, Belkètre featured members of Torgeist, Brenoritvrezorkre, Susvourtre and Moëvöt, and hearing these tracks will be a revelation for newcomers to their maniacal black metal. The eight songs that make up Belkètre's side are short, savage blasts of ultra blown-out, tinny blackened riffage that wobble in and out of tune, a discordant swarming chaos spiked with moments of weird, alien ambience (like those warped funeral tones that drift off the murky guitars on "Hate" and give way to monstrous gurgling vocal noises, or the nightmare drift that permeates "Despair"). They almost make the Vlad Tepes side sound sane in comparison. The songs erupt into super chaotic tangles of messy blastbeating drums and white-noise guitars, awesome unhinged guitar solos and bestial vocalizations, the vocals sometimes changing over into strange chanting not unlike the quasi-spoken word parts on the Von and Sixx demos, the droning bass pretty much the only thing keeping the music from completely breaking apart. This stuff is fucking amazing, one of the harshest and most lunatic of all the LLN related bands.

Awesome noisy French black metal that might have been more at home on some moldy old cassette tape, but I'll take it however I can get it; this along with all of the other recent Vlad Tepes reissues on Drakkar are highly recommended for fans of the eccentric Black Legions sound.


Track Samples:
Sample : VLAD TEPES / BELKETRE-March To The Black Holocaust
Sample : VLAD TEPES / BELKETRE-March To The Black Holocaust
Sample : VLAD TEPES / BELKETRE-March To The Black Holocaust
Sample : VLAD TEPES / BELKETRE-March To The Black Holocaust