Belphegor – A Celebration of Diabolical Death Metal

Sunday, 3rd August 2014

Belphegor have been spreading their particular brand of punishing black/death metal since the early 1990s. Steamrolling their way through nine full-lengths over the years (often to the tune of a new one every two years give or take). Following Blood Magick Necromance, vocalist/guitarist/bassist Helmuth had a medical issue that resulted in a brush with death.

With Conjuring The Dead (which pushes the band’s full-length total into the double digits as number ten), Helmuth and Belphegor appear to be back firing on all cylinders. Crushing black/death metal with a solid production from Erik Rutan, it seemed a great time to ask mainman Helmuth about the band’s journey thus far, his near death experience, and plenty about Conjuring The Dead itself…

Dead Rhetoric: Conjuring The Dead is your tenth release to date. How do you keep the creative juices flowing?

Helmuth: We always did our own thing. That’s why we’ve survived this long and still release and create outstanding musick. On each album we’ve experimented, added new elements/structures, worked with different musicians and producers, always bringing in new blood and ideas. With Erik Rutan at the helm of production and contributing great ideas, pushing us to be better than ever before, we are victorious!

I wanted to have a more death metal approach on this LP; more edgy, raw and of course vicious. It was time to return to our roots. I have never worked so hard on another release. I always had in the back of my mind, and feared after my life-threatening illness, it could be the last Belphegor album. So I didn’t want to fuck around, I wanted do things absolutely right.

Conjuring The Dead was a tough raid; can’t wait til it gets released and I have my physical album in my hands. That’s always a very special moment to me, then I get to see all the hard work, the sweat the sacrifice, that it all was worth it.

Dead Rhetoric: Along those lines, as Belphegor continues forward, what do you feel are the most key components of your sound?

Helmuth: Savage riffs, tritones, obscure atmosphere. Conjuring The Dead is very varied and our most mature album. The musick, the artworx, the obscene lyrical content, it’s a symbiosis of “extreme art.“ The songs on this release called for more death-growl style vocals, which has already surprised some of our audience. There are plenty of my classic grunts, screams, and familiar Belphegor trademarks throughout the album, though.

I have also grunted in three languages for over a decade now. English, German and Latin, the church speech…it’s utter blasphemy to mock them in their own language; it gets this great chanting effect. German verses also sound very harsh in pronunciation and give the overall feeling a harsh approach and atmosphere. Yes. We march on and on..

Dead Rhetoric: You had a brush with death back a few years back, did any of that carry over to the writing of this album?

Helmuth: Yes, Conjuring The Dead was heavily inspired by my own actual dance with death, as well as the downfall of all humanity. A lot of dangerous shit is happening on the planet right now…time is running out. My health issues and recovery affected everything regarding the new album, the writing process, the band, my life. The new slasher is like an explosion.

Dead Rhetoric: What can listeners expect from Conjuring The Dead?

Helmuth: Relentless brutality. There is no other band around, that comes close to the Belphegor sound. Our supporters deserve the best and on this release, they get what they deserve. More shredding, more savagery…just more of everything. Magick! On Conjuring The Dead we celebrate diabolical death metal.

Dead Rhetoric: Will there be any surprises for long-time fans?

Helmuth: First off I don’t use the term fan, it’s degrading to our supporters. Let’s call them Death-Soldiers or Maniakks. Those people who get our merch, buy our albums and go to our shows support us. We are thankful for that and that we are still allowed to shred on maximum capacity and storm in worldwide. I´ll tell you a little about the new songs:

“The Eyes” is an intermezzo, it calms everything down after the first five brutal sound collages, so people can take a breath and get prepared for the next assault. I played the classic acoustic guitar and over that, you hear a lead guitar screaming. After “The Eyes,” we start with this technical death monster entitled “Legions of Destruction.”

For the exalted track, entitled “Rex Tremendae Majestatis,” we added a lot classical tones in the guitar department. The title is taken from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s last composition, “Requiem.” He wrote it on his deathbed. He knew he would die soon. It shows how good artists can get when they feel threatened, or know their time is up! The song has influences by this composition when it comes to the intensity of the atmosphere. I have to be careful with such statements, I don’t want to be, as often as it happens, misinterpreted. I’m not a composer like Mozart, he was a genius. But this track is exactly what I felt, which my aim was, as I started creating “Rex Tremendae Majestatis” and when I listen to “Requiem.”

The outro/epilogue of “Pactum In Aeternum,” is all played with nature instruments, most self made, a lot of parts there are played with real bones (humans and animals); menacing and dark! They were created by Kramatach, an archaic cave band from Austria.

“In Death” is about my return on stage and fronting my band again, my experience with dancing with the dead. It’s a fast forward thrash metal track, with very old school death metal. We never wrote a song like that at any BELPHEGOR LP.

On “Flesh, Bones, And Blood” we also touched a new territory. The track comes with an industrial feeling and slam death metal guitars, with an ritual atmosphere in the chorus.

High speed massacres like “Black Winged Torment” and “Gasmask Terror” are typical Belphegor tracks. “Black Winged Torment” is with our beloved “Lucifer Incestus,” our fastest song we ever wrote…the dynamic of this track is unreal…it will be devastating in a live situation.

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