Belore - Eastern Tales

Artist: Belore

Album Title: Eastern Tales

Label: Northern Silence Productions

Date of Release: 5 April 2024

I think it’s obvious by now, if it wasn’t already, that atmospheric black metal is a weakness of mine. When done well, it can provide some of the most glorious music within the metal sphere, full of melody and epic grandeur, alongside the heaviness and aggression of what is, after all, an extreme style of music. The latest name to find its way onto my radar is Belore with album number three, ‘Eastern Tales’.

As is the way for a lot of atmospheric black metal, the music of Belore is essentially the work of a single person. In this case, a French chap by the name of Aleevok is the founding musician of Belore who came to life in 2019. Since 2021, Aleevok has enlisted the assistance of drummer Charlie Videau (Nydvind) but the remainder of the music is created by the hand of the main protagonist, including all lyrics.

I was drawn to ‘Eastern Tales’ by the gorgeous artwork that adorns the cover, and because this record is being released through Northern Silence Productions. This is the label that delighted me with Autrest and Fathomage albums last year, so they have a good track record for my personal tastes. So, when I got word of this Belore album, and saw what it looked like, it was a done deal.

According to the press information that accompanied the promo invitation, ‘Eastern Tales’ continues to weave tales within a medieval fantasy universe that has been created by Aleevok. It’s all very impressive on paper, both visually and descriptively, but does the aural aspect of the package match up? Yes. Yes, it does.

Massively in its favour is the production which, unlike some other bands within the genre, affords the music the strength and clarity that it needs in order to make the fullest impact possible. Its not polished to within an inch of its life or anything, but it isn’t at that ultra-raw, lo-fi end of the scale, either that renders some instruments invisible within the mix. Another positive here, too, is the drumming which is organic and not created digitally. This lends the music that little more in terms of authenticity and is something that I much prefer given the choice.

What Belore does a little differently as well, is back up their mystical tales of this medieval world in a musical sense, using authentic instrumentation, choral vocals, the sounds of nature, and a host of other subtle elements to create a soundtrack of medieval majesty. Essentially, it’s a clever blend of more traditional melodic atmospheric black metal with some more overt folk embellishments, as well as a touch of power metal bombast.

After the ubiquitous and, to be fair, pleasantly bombastic, orchestral instrumental, ‘To The Eastern Lands’ subsides, Aleevok decides to kick off ‘Sons Of The Sun’ very gently, and whimsically, with the sound of nature mingling with evocative keys, fragile melodies, and lone flute. Happily, as the heavier instrumentation then joins in, the melodic nature of the song continues unhindered. If anything, with the addition of drums, bass, and guitars, and an increase in the orchestral arrangements, the initial melodies are reinforced and boosted. I’m a real sucker for a thunderous blastbeat alongside a beautiful melody and Belore oblige to my delight from time to time. There’s even a semi-clean spoken-word section, and returns to quieter realms, to help tell the tale as the song progresses. It may be nearly eight minutes in length, but it flies by in a flurry of atmospheric brilliance.

Belore - Eastern Tales
Credit: Szputnyik Sweetheart

Not afraid to take time to set the scene and to properly bring the story to life, ‘Storm Of An Ancient Age’ begins with the creaking of a ship’s rigging alongside the sound of lapping water. The synths are there, but it’s not until the second minute that the other instrumentation starts to enter, and nearly the third before the metal kicks in properly. By that time, I’m already hooked though, especially as the melodies are so arresting. There’s an increased folk element to this composition, with the flute takin on a greater role, alongside some layered choral vocals that sing a sea shanty at points, but also deliver elsewhere to create a rousing, powerful chorus of sorts. Double pedal drumming, lead guitar solos, and all manner of other wonders lurk in a song that ebbs and flows to great effect. Narration within a quieter interlude, power metal bombast, and again the sounds of nature; trust me when I say that it all works and comes together to create another glorious composition that falls just shy of the ten-minute mark.

The first three-and-a-half minutes of ‘The Hermit Awakens’ is dominated by acoustic guitars, synths, and clean vocals to emphasise the folk aspect of Belore’s music, with lush orchestration creating a cinematic sheen later in the song. The heavier elements arrive, but when they do, they are more controlled and let the synths take the lead, bathing the song in a genuinely epic and otherworldly haze that’s really rather compelling to me and increases that mystical quality expertly.

Ethereal female vocals lead the way at the beginning of the altogether darker ‘Battle For Therallas’ as the trend for quieter, more cinematic song openings continue from Belore. The bass guitar comes to the fore as the aggressive, yet serene soundscapes unfold. And then, in the blink of an eye, we’re at the closing composition, ‘The Rise Of A Sovereign’ which, just like all of the songs before it, delights in the way that it blends black metal aggression with powerful cinematics and a bombastic storytelling bent.

‘Eastern Tales’ doesn’t necessarily reinvent any wheels here, but what it does is it offers atmospheric black metal fans with another excellent release full of wonder, aggression, and melody, wrapped up in folk-tinged cinematic splendour. And, I’d venture, this is pretty much all one could hope for when seeking to scratch that atmospheric black metal itch. If it is, dive in, dear friends, dive in, for you won’t be left disappointed, I can assure you.

The Score of Much Metal: 91%



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