Belarussian band Belle Morte have honed a beautiful blend of dark symphonic metal with haunting gothic and progressive elements laced with a melancholic and “romantic” vibe.
The Minsk project first began with vocalist Belle Morte, who initially wrote all the music and lyrics, and Sergey Butovsky, who plays bass in addition to taking care of complex musical arrangements and sound production. But the duo quickly realised they needed additional assistance to grow their musical vision.
As Sergey tells us: “The more we worked on it and shaped this unique atmosphere, the more apparent it became that it must transform into something bigger, meaning the full line-up.” They first added drummer Rostislav, who’d played at the same gigs as Sergey with his former bands. They then added keyboard player Maria, and two guitarists Ilya R, who played with Sergey in folk rock project Nevrida, and Ilya P, who played with Rostislav in a band called Synaxaria.
Belle Morte released a four-track EP followed by a series of singles over the last couple of years, which show off their diverse fusion of metal and progressive elements with more complex orchestral arrangements. As Belle explains: “We have catchy melodies that you’ll keep on singing for all day long after having a listen and complex multi-layered orchestral arrangements so you’d want to get back and listen to them one more time. We don’t get too crazy about following genre rules, we’d rather focus on making a great song, even if it implies stepping out of familiar tools and playing around with other genres.”
For example, Child of Night from their debut EP opens up with a light piano intro, which gradually develops into a verse of Belle’s high-pitched vocals answered by powerful instrumentals. The piano returns and gradually increases in pace, as it’s joined by stabbing guitars and orchestral instruments, then drops into another gothic verse.
It explodes into life in a chorus of fun descending vocals “Hopeless, homeless child of night, Moon became your only guide, Forest is your only friend, They won’t ever understand,” over powerful guitars and dark, atmospheric gothic sounds. That gives way to an instrumental section of sweeping strings and chugging guitars, which all builds up to a powerful conclusion.
The most recent offering of the Belle Morte sound is the dark but delicious Lace, which opens up with light piano and sombre bassy sounds. Belle’s vocals come in and are imitated by piano notes, giving way to a lingering cello and sweeping violins. A guitar kicks in for the second verse, which flows into an atmospheric chorus “In a secret place, Underneath the lace, Lonely and forgotten, Gone without a trace, Her blonde hair soaked black, Tangled round her neck, Down by the water, In cold ground she lays.”
That flows into another verse, this time supported by chugging palm-muted guitars then a more atmospheric, laid-back version of the chorus. A big dramatic instrumental section follows with a guitar solo supported by atmospheric orchestral parts, which drops into vocals and a cool string outro. Check out this superb track here:
Belle Morte have a superb back catalog of great diverse tracks like Devilish Deal, To Get Her and Mercy. Another great example of their sound is the enchanting Wintersleep, which has folky elements to it, alongside delicious vocals, heavier sections and a violin solo. Give it a listen here:
The release of singles so far has led up to signing with Wormholedeath Records for this month’s release of debut album Crime of Passion, which tells a story that begins with an unhealthy obsession and stalking and results in murder from the side of the murderer and his victim.
Belle told us: “This is huge for us and we’ve gone a long way to make this happen. Crime of Passion has 10 tracks, plus one bonus track, telling the same story chapter by chapter. Each of them is crafted with our blood, sweat and tears and huge attention to details. Each of them has its own flavour and I believe our listeners will have very different personal favourites.”
On the album, Sergey added: “Musically, Crime of Passion has a lot of djent/progressive and even some black metal elements and very diverse material. For example, Beauty Meant To Kill doesn’t have guitars at all, relying heavily on powerful symphonic parts with electronic instruments and percussion. If Only You Knew has a lot of prog metal and some djent elements.
“In general, we are using a lot of different elements here and we made it all sound consistent and not trivial at the same time. Each element used reveals different nuances, making it all sound like a mono rock-opera, with leitmotivs and instrumental parts, which are there not for the sake of being there, but for the sake of strengthening presence effect, shedding more light on the emotions of the characters.”
Belle describes her musical influences as “a super weird list” that includes everything from Roxette and Tori Amos to Corey Taylor, Behemoth and Maynard. And on what inspires her to write music, Belle adds: “The themes are pretty diverse and there’s a backstory for each track. The album is hugely inspired by the John Fowles book The Collector, but it’s not a direct citation and the story is a bit different.
“In general I use a lot of allegories, so that it’s easier for different people to relate to different things. When it comes to our EP, for instance, you might think of Child of Night as a shapeshifter fairytale, or, figuratively, as a story about an individual who failed to become a part of the society, an outcast.”
Belle Morte are only the second band we’ve spoken to from Belarus, with the first being Weesp who were one of the first bands we interviewed on the site in November 2016. So we asked Belle for her thoughts and insight into Belarussian music. “Wow, that’s an honor to be one of the first bands from our homeland you interviewed and a note that you might be missing out on some talents,” she told us.
“Ironically, our local metal scene has many outstanding musicians, but too few great marketers. As a result, there are bands that don’t get the recognition they deserve and are hardly known outside the country. But when it comes to support for new metal bands, from personal experience, people there are extremely loyal and ready to lend a hand. We unexpectedly received a lot of warm feedback from our local audience.”
Belle Morte have a busy year coming up, which begins with this month’s release of their debut album. They’ll also have a lyric video, album promotion – which hopefully won’t be restricted to online only – as well as more new music with another EP. On that Belle told us: “We are already thinking about new material and we even have the songs selected for it. As a sneak peek, we can tell you that it is going to have a lot of unusual collaborations and musical instruments we haven’t used before.”
We love the dark and gothic sound that Belle Morte have honed, which is equal part heavy and progressive, yet also melodic, dark and haunting with the superb orchestral arrangements. Their debut album promises plenty to be excited about, so keep an eye out for its release later this month.
Listen to Belle Morte and more new metal on the GigRadar Metal Spotify playlist