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Released: 2017, Nuclear Blast
Reviewer: Mr. Metalguy (Guest Reviewer)
How do you like your blackened death metal? With or without songs about goats? Well, Belphegor lurch back into the collective conscience on their 11th effort, TOTENRITUAL. There are no songs about goats. BONDAGE GOAT ZOMBIE is my favourite Belphegor album, after which I lost track of the band for various reasons, coming back around with 2014’s CONJURING THE DEAD, which I thought was serviceable at best and it certainly scratched an itch at the time. Is TOTENRITUAL deserving of reverence, of ritual, of repeated listens?
Perhaps more than on other releases, TOTENRITUAL’s first track “Baphomet” showcases Belphegor’s uncanny ability to marry brutality with memorability, those guitar flourishes and double kick ripping into a chorus that is oddly reminiscent of Nile somehow while still maintaining the core identity of the Belphegor sound, which at this point is basically the vision of Helmuth. And his vision is bleak indeed, a raging and swirling vortex of blackened riffs and punishing drums with nary a break from the voracious internal want to bang one’s head. And that is only the first track.
In the world of Belphegor, stability is key. Listeners should have a good idea of what they are getting into even with a passing knowledge of the band. Curveballs are meant for baseball. And yet, on TOTENRITUAL, Belphegor prove themselves to be more than a one blast pony, incorporating (brief) acoustic atmosphere into “Black Dragon” and even a mood instrumental track near the album’s conclusion.
TOTENRITUAL is a headphone album. There is an incredible amount of layering of sound and feeling if you have the right ear for it, and it takes multiple listens to truly appreciate the nuance of what Belphegor is reaching for on their 11th opus. Stare into their void.
2.The Devil's Son
3.Swinefever - Regent of Pigs
4.Apophis - Black Dragon
5.Totenkult - Exegesis of Deterioration
7.Spell of Reflection
8.Embracing a Star
Helmuth Lehner - Guitar, Vocals
Serpenth - Bass
Simon Schilling - drums
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