Belphegor – Conjuring The Dead
Release Date: August 8, 2014
Looks like “Lucifer” seems to be a favorite and highly used word in metal, or more specifically, within blackened death metal genre. Be it via lyrics, song titles or even album titles, “Lucifer” seems to have overtaken the world of heavy metal. Belphegor’s latest album Conjuring The Dead is one such example. Over two decades and nine albums, “consistency” seems to be the key in the Belphegor camp; with dense, layered and suffocating atmosphere, blistering riffs, crushing solo’s, eclectic drumming and thumping bass lines. However looking at the monotonous level of their earlier compositions, an ardent fan definitely expects some change; a breath of fresh air. This is one such reason why Belphegor‘s previous album Blood Magick Necromance attracted a lot of mixed reactions due to the fact that band has been doing the same thing again and again.
After a year of relentless touring, Belphegor took some time off and spent two years on new material. Fortunately with Conjuring The Dead, the old demons are back with a bag full of new tricks and improvements. That’s right, one of the most highly anticipated blackened death metal album of 2014 is here, and it unleashes hell right from the very first track. What sets the tone of the album is the front cover, designed by Septicflesh’s Spiros “Seth” Antoniou, which clearly depicts what Belphegor is all about.
While tracks like “Gasmask Terror”, “Conjuring The Dead” and “Black Winged Torment” clearly display Belphegor‘s signature style and take us back through their prolific career, there are some new twists and ideas thrown into tracks like “In Death”, “Rex Tremendae Majestatis” and “Lucifer, Take Her!”. For instance: “In Death” takes us on a balls out death/thrash ride delivering violence and fury at full velocity. “Rex Tremendae Majestatis” starts with an atmospheric acoustic plucks very rarely noticed in Belphegor‘s career followed by the pulverizing intensity, the uberpanzer. The harsh vocals on “Lucifer, Take Her!” have that grind, deathcore vibe which is a welcome change. It’s evident that a Belphegor album is incomplete without traces of violent sexual vibes and “Lucifer, Take Her!” delivers it flawlessly. The best thing about the album is the way the title track “Conjuring The Dead” surpasses most of their previous efforts but then gets blown away by most everything else on this album, demonstrating how far they have come.
From the screaming nuns to the chanted vocals, everything is arranged perfectly. Although Belphegor have played around with different elements on the few tracks mentioned above, there is just something about the precision attack of the compositions and the sheer viciousness of the delivery that makes Conjuring The Dead sound like a vicious combination of the black and death metal sound every time I spin it. Maybe some of it has to do the mix of thick, gooey bass licks and sickeningly crunchy guitars that producer Erik Rutan (Goatwhore, Morbid Angel, Cannibal Corpse) has skillfully captured in the studio. It could be the furious pace or the lethal chord progressions of Helmuth (who rips out some lacerating solos) along with bassist Serpenth. Helmuth’s patented screams and distinctive growls might even be more psychotic this time around. This album is more sedated with brutal drumming, and the credit for that goes to Martin Jovanovic for nailing it flawlessly to perfection. It takes a certain amount of balls to do anything different in the self-styled extreme metal scene, and here, for the past few albums at least, Belphegor have taken that challenge to heart.
For over two years they worked on these nine compositions, got every arrangement to the highest audio potential, and added a lot of new, haunting, and compelling structures, rhythm parts and tritone intervals. And like guitarist/vocalist Helmuth Lehner said: “We’re on fire! Expect more shredding, more magic, more of everything.” No doubt, Belphegor have delivered beyond expectations. The perfect combination of European metal’s cold and sick elements crossed with a brutal American sound seems to be the master plan here and it has done wonders. So do yourself a favor and turn it on, turn it up loud, and enjoy this face-smashing yet diverse album.