Belphegor – Black Magic Knights

Saturday, 30th March 2013

(This content originally appeared on Blistering.com)

It’s a bit bemusing to hear a metal artist reference the “rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle,” only because we usually associate it with glam rock bimbos or wannabe rock stars. You try spending most of your life on the road and not fall prey to temptation…it would be daunting, unless your name is August Burns Red or As I Lay Dying [no offense to either…they’re just not exactly “wild”]. Belphegor is neither of the two, and are just as relentless in their touring pursuits, which is why the below comments made by mainmain/guitarist/vocalist Helmuth shouldn’t be that big of a surprise. The band is on “10” all the time, both in music and offstage. Wonder how they like their coffee…

At any rate, the Austrians newest is the domineering Black Magick Necromance, the latest in a long line of albums from the band that accurately pin down the elusive death/black metal formula. For Belphegor, there are no blurred lines; it’s all systems go from the first moments of “In Blood – Devour this Sanctity,” all the way to the fluid melodies presented on “Rise To Fall and Fall To Rise,” and “Possessed Burning Eyes 1997.” Coupled with the mammoth production job of Peter Tagtgren [Hypocrisy, Immortal, etc.] and it’s an early feast for 2011.

We snagged the aforementioned Helmuth for a round of queries, and just like Belphegor’s music, the man’s responses were just as full-throttle and intense. Does this band ever quit?

Blistering.com: You release an album nearly every year and tour constantly, so, is there anyone out there who is going to outwork Belphegor?

Helmuth: Fuck no man. I do not know why people keep saying this – absolute bullshit. It is always 16-20 months between releases. Sure, we tour endlessly, here to bring the devil to your town…maybe that is the reason everyone thinks it is a new release every year, and this is not the reality, though!

Blistering.com: Where does this drive and determination come from?

Helmuth: This is not about a rush or anything of the sort. When we are ready to create our art and lay down new ideas, we go for it! We are possessed by this fire, we let it flow, you know. We make the decisions ourselves; no one else has control over our output. It has nothing to do with the label, or these wastes of oxygen proliferating the earth. We record when we feel it, and are always totally into it!

Blistering.com: Do you ever reach points of being burnt out and if so, how do you get the fire started again?

Helmuth: Sure, there are days or weeks where I may ask myself, “Fuck, why not a normal 9-5 job?” but in the end, there are so many things I get from this work and lifestyle. I love the travel, we live fast, you know. I am so thankful for all that I have seen and experienced. Of course there are some pitfalls, namely excess. Tempting things that can fuck you up: alcohol, drugs, sex, whatsoever. It is not a secret that some have heavy problems with this element of the life we live, so often it is hard to say “no.” In any case, you get back so much. For example, when you hold the final product, the album in your hands, it makes you proud to see all your energy channeled into something physical that effects the world in more ways than you can ever know. In live situations, you can really feel the crowd, the demon’s passion, and we always give our best!

Blistering.com: On that note, do you pay attention to what other bands in the underground are doing and try to learn from their successes and/or mistakes?

Helmuth: We shred since 1993. There is no other band that can teach us anything. We went through a lot of label and business shark bullshit in the last decade. Almost all bands on this level have. You sign a wrong contract, or believe these business fuckers actually care, and then they screw you. That’s the hardest thing to learn, they only want your money and your blood… until you die and another band steps in. This game is built on shit. We always follow our own path, take own responsibility. No excuses to anyone! We are Belphegor – fuck you.

Blistering.com: Blood Magick Necromance could very well be your best album to date and while it’s cliché to say such a thing, it might be the truth. What is your opinion of it now that we’re gearing up for its release?

Helmuth: This is not a competition with ourselves. We always aimed to put out the right album at the right time for us. Blood Magick Necromance is a very special one to us. It deals with a lot more personal issues in our own lives and this is reflected in the music and texts. Yes, it is a special work. Magnificent and our utmost dangerous offering yet.

Blistering.com: What was it like working with Peter Tagtgren? How did you hook up with him?

Helmuth: We contacted him and were really happy to hear we would be one of the select bands he works with this year. It was amazing, like I have been saying for months of course. He built up such a strong new soundwall – total Hell on Earth. There is a new edge, new perspective with some different dynamics which were perfect for what we originally had in mind. Blood Magick Necromance is a very dangerous and magnificent Belphegor album. Exactly how we wanted to sound in 2011

Blistering.com: Describe the atmosphere of Abyss Studios. Some classic albums have been recorded there…

Helmuth: Oh yeah. There nature surrounding us was brilliant. Mid-summer, recording in a huge studio surrounded by the forest, nature. There is a beautiful lake near Peter’s. I am used to nature, of course being from the mountains, but this was a spectacular place to lay down our tracks. Of course this studio has been used to produce some intense LPs; you can even smell the metal spirit inside. Abyss studio is built on metal, nothing else. He really built us an amazing atmosphere, a great pleasure to record at Abyss.

Blistering.com: The melodic ideas on “Rise to Fall and Fall To Rise” and “Possessed Burning Eyes” are some of your finest to date. Would you say the band is more willing to be melodic now than ever?

Helmuth: It was the masterplan since we started songwriting. We didn’t need to write the fastest album, we wanted to create more of an epic and monumental offering. Heavy like a tank that rolls on the front. We are not betraying our roots by any means, it is still Belphegor to the bone, of course a lot of new structures and arrangements are added that were not present on our last albums. The addition of the orchestral parts change the overall atmosphere, so everything is even more haunting – like a ritual, you know.

Blistering.com: Religious imagery is something the band is no stranger to, and the new album cover is definitely striking. What were you trying to convey?

Helmuth: Coming from such a narrow minded religious mountain village, we have always been against the Catholic Church. We aim to poison the Vatican rats with every release. To be honest, the cover you are familiar with is not the one we originally intended. Problems with distributors led us to having to change the first version which featured our Succubus, Rachael, as a torn up necrosis fucked sacrifice. Anyways, we really dig it as it is now, the demon with the pentagram bondage is sick! The tortured Sado Messiah as a death pact sacrament.

Blistering.com: Since you’ve been on Nuclear Blast, the band’s profile has increased, so after all the stuff you went through while on Napalm Records, how beneficial has it been to be on a label like NB?

Helmuth: Nuke Blast has been the first good label for Belphegor. They do a lot for us, opened some important doors here and there. At the end you have to realize we have been at this since 1993 and we were never a band “made” by a label. We never needed spineless marketing whores that kneel down to sell 1,000 more CDs. We never did you know, we fought so hard – sweat and blood to be where we are now! Belphegor is elite. Against the sheep and holy spirit… crush them!

Blistering.com: Finally, what’s on tap for 2011?

Helmuth: Nonstop touring, worldwide. We start February with USA and Canada with Deicide, than again with Sepultura. After these two raids we cover Europe, two festival tours to be announced soon. In September, we shred Central America, three-to-four weeks again. At the moment, all is focused on the new album.

www.myspace.com/belphegor