beltez – exiled, punished… rejected (2017)

beltez are a german black metal band that play german black metal. that could very easily be the end of the review and even enough reason to love their 3rd full-length “exiled, punished… rejected”, but bear with me.

the german quintet have a distinctly specific and perceptible approach to their art. here you don’t have the typical atonal chords, syncopation, dissonance, reverb, bombardment of countless seemingly unrelated and incoherent themes & melodies, unexpected passages, stretched out droning or demonstration of virtuosity, or a general love of cacophony (not that anything’s wrong with these). rather, the album as a whole feels meticulously “engineered”, in superior german fashion. there is not one single note, a beat of the drum, a word of singing etc. that sounds out of place. everything seems right where it’s expected to be, or where you would suppose it to be. a second trademark is the elaboration (not experimentation) of the singular main theme throughout the album. the intro lays the very basic foundations, which progresses and explodes (brilliantly) into the opener and the third movements that carry out and explore new heights. the fourth track acts as a prelude and uses an un-black metal like breakdown of the main theme (but no complaints here, either). while the title track is the single stand-out one, the (obligatory) 13+ minute closer revisits the main and recurring theme, with the same outro that ties all ends together, to wrap up the proceedings.

this rigid structure, heavy repetition and elaboration may sound rather dull at first but that is quite far from the truth. the album is captivating from the first listen and admittedly quite accessible. while beltez do not (attempt to) break any new ground, they have created an overall feeling of awe through progression of delicious melodies, just enough variation, mechanical precision and execution. you have moments of majestic and euphoric atmosphere thanks to double guitar tracks, amazing and initiative drum work, impressive shrieking and a thick, meaty overall sound. you have glorious crescendos and continuous moments of eargasm. and as is the case with several german black metal acts, such as ultha, you have a distinct, palpable feeling of misery and sorrow masterfully integrated within the music without the need for in-your-face gimmicks.

and they do all these within their predefined lines. and that’s what makes it a pretty awesome album to experience. a joy to behold.

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