There are many people who love Satan in metal – most of us jokingly, for some it represents rebellion to the mainstream, the authority, and of course, religion. But no one has managed to identify themselves with Satan as much as Belphegor. The Austrians from Salzburg make a habit of being as Satanistic as possible and their sound follows suit. Their act is one that could easily be incredibly cringe, yet it works and now Belphegor is back with a new album, for which the title didn’t require much thinking, “The Devils.”
Five years after the release of “Totenritual” this album starts much in the same vein all of Belphegor’s music has sounded for a while. The growls aren’t as deep as they are just dirty and fittingly demonic. If Satan was a frontman there’s no doubt he truly would sound like Helmuth. “Totentanz – Dance Macabre” has an absolutely evil beginning channelled through a blood-curling scream that I love. It’s a classic example of the appeal of the mysticism of black metal – the more terrifying it is the more soothing it feels as it draws you in.
“Glorifizierung des Teufels” begins with an acoustic melody, which seems to get corrupted more and more by the harshness of metal and, as the title suggests, the worship of Satan. Still, it’s a far gentler and somewhat contemplative and hypnotic song than one would expect from Belphegor and that is a welcome break from what could otherwise quickly become monotonous. The drums on this album work really well and, while very aggressive, don’t stick out sorely at any point and fit in very well with the filth of their blackened death metal. The blast beats are definitely very present, but not overwhelming, while the guitars have those Belphegor riffs that will immediately be very recognisable to anyone who’s familiar with the band. Their uniqueness is hard to miss and it never takes long to recognise one of their songs.
“The Devils” continues with an interesting piece in Latin, “Virtus Asinaria – Prayer,” (which actually uses the same lyrics as their previous songs “Chant for the Devil” and “Festum Asinorum”), it’s cold and atmospheric, invoking a sense of dread and slightly reminiscent of some more black metally 90s songs. Its mid-tempo rhythm makes the song feel ritualistic and a preparation for something greater. That something greater is “Kingdom of Cold Flesh,” which is definitely a lot faster and harsher piece, although I’d really have loved something very special and horrendously evil at this point in the album to have a crescendo effect.
This rather short, 36-minute album, ends with “Creature of Fire,” another ritualistic piece that delivers a nice conclusion to the album. But there’s more! The Austrians have added a bonus track called “Blackest Sabbath 1997,” which is a medley of two songs from the 1997 album “Blutsabbath.” Funnily enough, it’s actually probably my favourite song on the album as it, especially in the first half goes really hard and the vocals and guitars both sound absolutely devious and hellish. The lyrics are very rapey even for Belphegor and it’s clear the band has moved on slightly from their very sexual imagery and now just has a really big crush on Satan.
A band that’s managed to stay very unique and bring quality over 25 years is always impressive, but Belphegor is proving they’re capable of some innovation as well and this is a fairly solid album. However, it’s important to note that the Austrians are very much a band that shines live and therefore even if this doesn’t sound amazing to you, you should go see them if possible. A bloody Austrian that looks like undead Jesus (Is there a band called Undead Jesus by the way? I’m starting it if not) will be screaming the unholy words of Satan at you and channelling all the misanthropy you never needed in your life. “The Devils” a good, if unspectacular release, that will probably get more plays in the bleakness of the winter months that are to come.
Release date: 29 July 2022
Record Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Written By: Didrik
1. The Devils
2. Totentanz – Dance Macabre
3. Glorifizierung Des Teufels
4. Damnation – Hoellensturz
5. Virtus Asinaria – Prayer
6. Kingdom Of Cold Flesh
7. Ritus Incendium Diabolus
8. Creature Of Fire
9. Blackest Sabbath 1997 (Bonustrack)