Belphegor - Conjuring the Dead

Posted on Tuesday, December 16, 2014

It’s easy to take this Austrian Black/Death duo for granted. I don’t know of too many middle-aged-and-above Metalheads who flutter with anticipation at the mention of a new Belphegor release. Perhaps that whole scary makeup schtick loses its affect on the withered and souldying as we become slaves of time? (If a band really wanted to frighten adults, they’d have to dress up like IRS auditors.) I’d even be willing to wager that many a fan of this act fails to realize that Helmuth’s been at this for 22 years (23 if you wanna count the short-lived Betrayer) and that Conjuring the Dead marks full-length album #10 overall. Then again, when you have the disc in the stereo and the play button is engaged, all that really matters is the music, and that’s when Belphegor’s extreme sonic power refuses to go unappreciated. In fact, while you’re listening to them, it’s tough to think of any band who’s faster, heavier, sicker, or more brutal. The group converted me from observer to fan with their ‘05/’06 one-two punch of Goatreich - Fleshcult and Pestapokalypse VI. If memory serves, that’s when they began to wholly embrace the brutal Death Metal side of their spectrum (and one assumes that the success of Nile and Behemoth may have aided in the swaying of that decision). And though their last three albums since 2006 have proven to be unmemorable over time, it’s apparent from “Gasmask Terror” that Conjuring the Dead is a fully recharged and reinvigorated Belphegor. A lightning-fast beast of an opener given weight by majestic melodies. The title track follows with a much slower attack, and it could’ve worked if not for the main hook’s resemblance to the Oompa Loompa’s song from Willy Wonka. (“If you’re not greedy you will go far…” Damn you, childhood!!) Luckily, “In Death” follows with riffs that are every headbanger’s dream. This one should definitely be a crowd-pleaser. Not sure if I can say the same for “Rex Tremendae Majestatis.” A decent cut, with all the Nile trimmings, but one that reaches a bit too far for atmosphere at the sake of listenability. The atmosphere they should be chasing is the one of pure dread and elevated tension that follows on “Black Winged Torment.” This is simply Helmuth & Serpenth at their best. “The Eye” is nothing more than an instrumental queef, but a press of the skip button later and we’re greeted by “Legions of Destruction” —replete with guest vocals by Glen Benton and Mayhem’s Atilla— and “Flesh, Bones and Blood” — “FOR-NI-CA-TION 6 6 6!!” Two hellbent highlights worthy of many a repeated spin. The album closes with a far less exciting tandem —”Lucifer, Take Her!” and “Pactum in Aeternum”— that can only be classified as noise gymnastics. Just the guys getting a little cardio in after an LP of extremely heavy lifting. Their best workout session ever? You be the judge.

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