15 May 2021
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Beltane - Auld Toby Album Review

06 Oct 2011 // A review by Peter-James Dries

My interest in Beltane began as a sideline to my interest in the music of Palmerston North’s $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 isn’t. It’s mainly about the pashing on stage at the end of their shows. And their music.

You’ll never see Beltane enter the national consciousness. The price you pay for esoterica is obscurity. Mind, they don’t 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 can’t get much more esoteric than Auld Toby. And when I say esoteric I don’t mean in the Hermetic, Masonic sense. I mean it in a “What-the-fuck-is-happening” way. There is a story of Misplaced Abortion’s 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 can’t listen to the album because, as the myth goes, it’s so heavy  that all you’ll 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. I’m pleased to say Beltane aren’t the boogie man type, but either way, if you’re any type of Christian you probably won’t understand, enjoy  or probably even survive Auld Toby. I suggest you try Flyleaf or New Zealand’s 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. It’s like trying to make an album when you can only do it on Easter and Christmas. This makes it quite a mish-mosh affair. It’s good in terms of sound and genre variety. It’s 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 wouldn’t 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 band’s most accessible releases, it’s still more targeted at fans of the extreme metal genres and fans of the band who know what they’re getting themselves into, and more than likely the Norwegians, who started this grand tradition of Black Metal all those years ago.

Auld Toby
View Track Listing
 

About Beltane

With the original line-up coming together in 1994, Beltane was one of the first bands in New Zealand to play Black Metal.

Beginning on the Summer Solstice of 2004 the band has recorded on every Solstice and Equinox since then. 2008's releases; Cape D'Evil, …Through Darker Seasons and Shadowplay Desolate highlight the development, quality & originality of the band. They have set a new standard for what a self-produced metal band can achieve in this domain. This has also been reflected in the ever increasing sales of these CDs both overseas & in New Zealand.

Beltane has long abandoned the status of being purely a Black Metal band. Bringing in elements of Industrial & Gothic styles has made the sound even more original, making for a band that actually has memorable & listenable songs both live & recorded.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Beltane

Releases

Auld Toby
Year: 2011
Type: Album
Rehearsal Autumn X
Year: 2010
Type: EP
Sig Neun
Year: 2010
Type: EP
Winterglim
Year: 2010
Type: EP
Brown Metal
Year: 2010
Type: EP
DARKHOVSE
Year: 2009
Type: Album
Autumn MMIX
Year: 2009
Type: EP
Summer ov Skoth
Year: 2009
Type: EP
Shadowplay Desolate VE08
Year: 2008
Type: EP
...Through Darker Seasons
Year: 2008
Type: Album
Cape D'Evil - SS07
Year: 2008
Type: EP
JERA <2>
Year: 2007
Type: Album
JERA <>
Year: 2007
Type: Album
Her Spring Eyes - VI
Year: 2006
Type: EP
Autumn Craft 2006
Year: 2006
Type: EP
The Brook Project - VE05
Year: 2005
Type: EP
Summer Solstice Live '04
Year: 2005
Type: EP
WSOV
Year: 2005
Type: EP
MCMXCIX
Year: 1999
Type: EP
Rehearsal April 5th 1995
Year: 1995
Type: EP

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