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Belenos

Er is niets meer frustrerend dan goede albums die niet meer te krijgen zijn. Dat was het geval met de eerdere werken van Belenos. Natuurlijk is het laatste album van deze band wel te verkrijgen, maar hoe zit het met de oudere platen, 'Errances Oniriques' en 'Spicilège'? Welnu, in elk geval hoeven we niet meer zonder 'Errances Oniriques': dit album is nu wederom verkrijgbaar en in een zeer verbeterde versie. Toeslaan dus. En hoe zit het met dat andere album, 'Spicilège'? En Belenos' toekomst? We hebben het Loïc zelf maar eens gevraagd.

Door: Roel F. | Archiveer onder black metal

band imageGreetings! How are you doing? I was very pleased to see that, finally, 'Errances Oniriques' is available again after nine years! Are you, too, happy with how everything transpired with the re-release? How have responses been up to now?
Hey! The first real album 'Errances Oniriques' (released in 2001 on Sacral Productions - rip) was no longer available since late 2004 however a lot of people were waiting for it. By my side I've waited the good moment to do a kind of reissue. Thanks to Northern Silence Productions, this project is now done. I'm very satisfied with the result and according to the first responses I've recently got, everyone is convinced by this reissue.

To begin with, what motivation lies behind the choice to re-release this piece of excellent metal after all this time? Northern Silence Productions says it was due to popular demand, but was it their wish to put 'Errances Oniriques' to the masses again, or was it something you wanted to do for some time now, as well, or does it fit in line with the re-releases of Belenos's second demo as well as 'L'ancien Temps' by Northern Silence earlier?
Main reason is to put it to the masses, not again but just for those who were desperate not to find it. Anyway I know some fans that get and enjoy both. When a lot of people ask for an album out of stock, the label generally represses a new stock of CD. This could not happen since Sacral has died. When everything were ok to do this reissue, I've chosen a different way, I've done a full re-recording with a better artwork and two bonus tracks have been added.

Are there any plans to further re-release the rest of the Belenos catalogue, maybe 'Spicilège'? Or should I ask, when can we expect that particular album to become available again?
Same thing than 'Errances Oniriques'. This album is no more available and a lot of people wish to have it. I think it can be possible but not right now, we have to be patient yet, until late 2010 at least. About 'L'ancien Temps' the double CD has sold out too but it's now available on double gatefold LP (Cruciatus Records).

Before moving on, I would like to backtrack a bit, to 2004. In that year, Belenos was downsized to what it is today, namely you, Loïc Cellier. What was the story behind that decision? Was it something that came as a shock to the rest of the band and or did you feel that being responsible and answerable to only yourself was the right course to take, thereby eliminating any influences the other band members may have had on the music and, perhaps, on the way you perceived and wanted to make music??
Indeed 2004 was an important year for Belenos, for several reasons, I moved to Brittany and this Celtic area is very distant from where the line-up lived. I wanted to change my life, to improve its quality, to feel closer to nature. Anyway, I wanted to continue alone, working together at this time was a big waste of time and I was fed up with gigs. I really needed to find myself again to keep my inspiration safe.

What, then, is Belenos for you? Is it a way of releasing inner tension, frustrations or maybe an expression of a longing for (Celtic) times long past? What story are you trying to tell with each Belenos album? Is Belenos about abstract ideas and concepts or is this entity more than that, something personal and dear to you?
Every album of Belenos is different in its mood, 'Chants De Bataille' is built upon a very precise concept: the rites of the Gallic tribes in the antiquity, after having read a lot of archaeological and historical books. 'Errances Oniriques' reveals a path of solitude and meditation, 'Spicilége' deals more with Celtic legends. Next album will surely talk about Celtic culture in a mystic approach, probably sung in Breton language.

As for Belenos's music, I have always been impressed by the sheer melodic impact all Belenos material seems to possess. Of course, there are loads of melodic metal outfits moving about, but Belenos have great melodies, drive and dynamics; all combined into and aggressive yet pensive and longing framework that always delivers great engaging diversity. How did this sound came about for Belenos and you in particular?
I try to play something with a lot of sincerity, according to my tastes and roots, I think it's very important while playing this style. So I play something which looks like me in a spontaneous way, I like diversity so diversified is my music, I like also violence and vicious melodies. I would be proud to hear that Belenos sounds immediately recognizable.

In my review, I stated that 'Errances Oniriques' is as relevant today as it was in 2000, the year when it was released. How can you explain that fact? Would you say that this is because black metal has not progressed much in those years, or would you say that good pagan metal (due to lack of a better qualification) will stay relevant and interesting?
He he, because it's not old fashioned or not badly aged, I mean generally a good album goes through the years without any wrinkles. Black metal has surely progressed during the last decade, there are now five more times black metal hordes however quantity does not mean quality.

On listening the new 'Errances Oniriques' it is striking that you have kept everything very close to the original, if not kept the original songs intact completely. Looking purely at the music, did you actually change anything? Some lead guitar bits, maybe, some drum patterns, or the overall arrangements in some places, perhaps?
I would say that the sound is more actual, still natural but more powerful and clear. The interpretation has improved a lot, the old version is definitely not for those who seek technical performances. I've changed details here and there but it's often not felt by listeners. The basis of the songs were still good to me but the form of the album which was mediocre deserved some work and is now very good

What you did change, I believe, is that the track, 'Morfondu', in relation to the original album has been made into track number five instead of number one, with the short introduction that was first a separate track on the original added. Why did you make this particular choice?
I have to tell you the truth, the song list on the old version was wrong: the label changed the order because they wanted to begin the album directly by a furious blast: by 'Morfondu' cut by the introduction called so "interlude". I've always find that stupid so with the new version the song list is at last correct!

band imageAlso, this time around, you have played every instrument that can be heard on 'Errances Oniriques'. Was there a specific consideration that led to this, or was that done simply because Belenos has been a one-man band for so long?
I'm able to play everything (guitar, drums, vocals, bass) I don't want to depend on third party because it's always a waste of time, same thing with the studio process and artwork. I want to be entirely free with Belenos, no more dependency, no more troubles, only good work and pleasure.

You also did all the clean vocals, did you not? They sound convincing and, more important, they fit the music rather well. Is clean singing something you noticed you could perform by accident, or you have you had proper singing lessons?
Yes, as I said no third party, I do everything by myself, as a lot of things in Belenos I've never got lessons (except one year of guitars in 1993). I'm singing just when I record something and a few takes are enough for the recordings.

What is kind of unusual, maybe, was that you also did the recording, mastering and mixing by yourself, as well. Is this something you've been dabbling in, or would you say that it is more than that, with these activities turning into a line of work, something you are willing to do or are already doing for other bands?
When I started Belenos as a one-man-band, I wanted to have a certain freedom regarding the technical process of recording, at the time I bought a dusty 8 tracks tascam, it was expensive but with a drum machine I've managed to record the demo tapes featured on 'L'ancien Temps'. Now I work with a computer, I have a good experience and I think that the new 'Errances Oniriques' sounds more professional studio than home studio. I work just for myself, I've tried for other bands but I don't like that, not even for money.

Another element that you did change was the cover artwork. You improved it. Why did you do this, and what does the cover artwork symbolize in relation to 'Errances Oniriques' and the music and lyrics contained on the album?
Yes. I like the word "improved" because it's true, it's just what I wanted to do. The new artwork looks like the old one but is really better, deeper and stronger. The basis is the same: Celtic knots and flames on the left side hiding a mournful landscape. I did not do the old artwork, the label did it and I've to say there were a lot of mistakes, misspellings... The artwork must give a preview of the musical content, something like when looking at the cover, you guess the mood and the atmosphere of the music, and when you listen to the whole stuff, you say: yes that's fucking it!

And, expanding on that particular question, what is 'Errances Oniriques' about in the first place? How does the title translate to English? My French isn't what it used to be, but does it have anything to do with looking for a place, a function and a justification through a dream or song?
In English it's "Imaginary Wanderings", all the songs are tied each other more or less, it deals with the wandering of mind through dreams in a cold domain of loneliness, to be purified from the real sad world, there are comparisons like flashbacks, at the end of this wandering it's question of reflex ions about the aim of life. The translations are available on the www.myspace.com/belenosbzh blog.

What have you been up to from 'Chemins de Souffrance', in 2009, onward? Artesia has a new release out, what is your relation to that band? Are you a permanent contributor to their music, or more an additional mind to supply ideas and to help out with guitar and percussion?
I'm helping this band since 2004, for all concerning the studio work, artwork and arrangements. I am not the main member at all even if I'm involved more and more. I like atmospheric bands such as Arcana or Dargaard so Artesia and its Celtic approach has always been appreciated by my ears. 'Llydaw' is the third album

On your MySpace it says you are slowly but surely working on new material for a new Belenos album, which is scheduled for release in 2010. Assuming the new Belenos is still Loïc Cellier, where do you get your inspiration? Do you have people that are close to you who inspire you or provide you with ideas? As a one-man band, there is no real possibility to discuss ideas, arrangements, certain riffs you may not be sure about, and so forth. How do you deal with this issue??
I had a friend who wrote for me some raw riffs, he's mentioned for his help on 'Spicilège', 'Chants De Bataille' and 'Chemins De Souffrance' and for the next album too. You know, I play that kind of music for almost fourteen years, it's now easy for me, while inspiration is alive, Belenos will be too. So the new album will surely be out early 2010, I've already begun the recording and I have six months to finish it. This album should be called 'Yen Sonn Gardis' which means in Breton something like "cold hard severe".

Are you planning on making any radical changes concerning Belenos and the musical approach that is tied to it and to you? Will Belenos be steered unto a slightly different path, or will you stay true to the original (musical) idea behind Belenos? If the latter is the case, how will you make the new material better and still more interesting than the previous Belenos tracks?
The new album will be 100% Belenos, however the mood of the melodies will be very different, this album will be more in a "pagan" way, like on 'Spicilège' but nothing to see with the commercial folk metal scene, Belenos remains for ever dark and brutal!

Another problem of being sole member of a band would be a difficulty with touring. If the right offer comes along, would you be willing to take into consideration any suggestions that will lead to a tour, maybe across Europe, even? Or do you adhere to the one-man band design, keeping Belenos away from people in that particular way?
Since I'm alone again, I've stopped live activities. A lot of people ask me for playing live in France, Europe and even in Canada, that's interesting but it's not possible for me, I have heavy difficulties to find good musicians here, but in next July I have to audition several guys, with a lot of chance there may be a chance to get a session live-up, but anyway there will be few gigs.

Well, that's about all there is to ask, probably. I hope I haven't asked too much questions that you have already answered in the wake of the first release of 'Errances Oniriques'. Any last comments are yours.
Thanks to you, I remember another interview here in 2006. Good chance to buy 'Errances Oniriques', this time I promise, it will be easier! Be patient about the next album, for the rest go to my webpages: www.belenos.biz and www.myspace.com/belenosbzh. Kenavo!

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