My interest in Beltane began as a sideline to my interest in the music of Palmerston Northís $lave Recordings. When people say the name Beltane their tone suggests there is some kind of dark back story, some hidden history I needed to know about. There isnít. Itís mainly about the pashing on stage at the end of their shows. And their music.
Youíll never see Beltane enter the national consciousness. The price you pay for esoterica is obscurity. Mind, they donít strike me as the kind of band that would care either way, and probably relish the fact that they are so far removed from the banal normality of our Capitalist reality.
Black Metal is a relatively obscure genre, though the adherents would vehemently disagree. Under that Black Metal umbrella we have Beltane in its own niche. You canít get much more esoteric than Auld Toby. And when I say esoteric I donít mean in the Hermetic, Masonic sense. I mean it in a ďWhat-the-fuck-is-happeningĒ way. There is a story of Misplaced Abortionís third record, the one that sent the lead singer Dirk Strangler insane. It is said to be the heaviest and loudest record of all time, so heavy you canít listen to the album because, as the myth goes, itís so heavy that all youíll hear is silence. Auld Toby is comparable to that record.
Beltane are not Black Metal with Satanic elements; it is the epitome of all things that epitomise Satanism. Your interpretation of Satanism will definitely play a part in your interpretation of that statement. Depending on your understanding of Satanism it is either the worship of that eternal boogie man, Satan, the raker of your ashes in the flaming garden of hell, or a legitimate philosophy of self-deism and adherence to traditions passed down by the enlightened before you. In a historical sence, Satanism is a really bastardised version of Hermeticism and the old world religion, in the same sense that Christianity is a bastardisation of Jewdom. The pentagram on the CD label, a recognised symbol of Satanism, is actually Pythagorean, initially popularised by that guy you hated in Math class because he did all that pointless shit with triangles. But I digress. Iím pleased to say Beltane arenít the boogie man type, but either way, if youíre any type of Christian you probably wonít understand, enjoy or probably even survive Auld Toby. I suggest you try Flyleaf or New Zealandís FreeDay instead.
This release is a long time coming. With the band recording only on certain old world days of celebration, such as the Summer Solstice, Autumn Equinox, Samhain and Beltane, there are only certain opportunities to rock out every year. Itís like trying to make an album when you can only do it on Easter and Christmas. This makes it quite a mish-mosh affair. Itís good in terms of sound and genre variety. Itís not like a Bring Me The Horizon album where every song on an album is essentially the same, which increases the replay value of Auld Toby. Conversely, it can be criticised for the same. There is no congruence, only disjointed pieces, the bane of those who imagine albums like a sonic journey rather than a collection of songs.
Blutengel and Manowar fans from way back will no doubt enjoy the respective covers of Navigator and Bridge of Death and who wouldnít like that the Baphgirl designed cover smells like a San Francisco head shop. Patchouli and synthetic Marijuana. Though at times Auld Toby is one of the bandís most accessible releases, itís still more targeted at fans of the extreme metal genres and fans of the band who know what theyíre getting themselves into, and more than likely the Norwegians, who started this grand tradition of Black Metal all those years ago.
Beltane has been playing its own style of Black Metal since October 1994, and self produce all of their material.
HERE IS A DESCRPITION OF BELTANE'S SOUND
"Very much rooted in the black metal sound but with some songs containing more traditional metal elements, gothic & industrial. Though the majority is fairly straight BM but done in an original way. Unlike a lot ov bands, the songs are strong & don't merge into one another incomprehensibly. Probably not for the person that cannot tolerate anything but "meat & potato" BM but great for those that want a bit ov varied interest without straying too far."