Belphegor - Totenritual

Belphegor - Totenritual

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(CD/LP, Nuclear Blast, 2017)

Some days ago, BELPHEGOR released “Totenritual” as their 11th full length album and this is an impressive fact on its own. I mean, the Austrians have been delivering the Death / Black Metal goods since the early '90s and have been doing so every two to three years. However, some health issues Helmuth had to address around six years ago kind of made the future seem a bit uncertain, but “Conjuring The Dead” proved that BELPHEGOR remains an unstoppable machine. On top of this, and after spinning “Totentirual” a healthy amount of times, I safely reached the conclusion that the band is in its best form.

Yeah, “Baphomet” opens the album with the right amount of power, blasphemy and the type of aggression that has become a BELPHEGOR trademark. Only this time the production and especially the way the drums have stepped forward is bone chilling. The characteristic guitars with the flesh-ripping tempos feed the early MORBID ANGEL brutality while Helmuth’s vocals sound like they’re coming from the very depths of hell. Even if this is deep guttural growling, one can understand the lyrics, something that gives additional points to this neck-snapping track which also sounds more complex than the average Black Metal untrained ear can understand. I am talking about the cliché statement reading “everything sounds the same”. No, it doesn’t and, in fact, you will feel this during the even more brutal “The Devil’s Son” where the bass guitar makes a powerful appearance standing side-by-side with the snare-drum mayhem. Believe it or not, this one has a catchy chorus that is so inviting to sing along. I mean, how can you resist ripping your vocal chords (well, not literally) joining Helmuth in “chants from hell – devilish dance, Sathan father guide my hands”... The clean guitar break adds a bizarre beauty to this one as it bleeds into “Swinefever - Regent Of Pigs” and the spoken part which will give you the chills. Brace yourself because this is one is a serious headbanger as it pounds its way with groovy parts mixed with some double-bass drum explosions. “Apophis – Black Dragon” contains one of the best riffs I have heard from BELPHEGOR and I will draw your attention to the main one which carries another hard to miss melody even though I am well aware that it is tough to use this word on the same sentence with BELPHEGOR... Seriously though, there are melodic breaks scattered in the album and in this song you’ll definitely enjoy the almost lyrics-chanting part. You may even say that there’s some Horror movie soundtrack structure that makes listening to this album even more enjoyable. Try not to get chills (again) running down your spine during the instrumental “Totenbeschwörer” with these demon-like sounds hidden behind the clear guitar arpeggios and the mid-tempo drum groove (by the way, love the hi-hat action here). If you get through this one, you’ll be rewarded with “Spell Of Reflection” which soon enough became my album favorite. Again, the mix is dynamite with the bass and rhythm guitar sharing the same volume creating a monolith of a sound spiced by the trademark BELPHEGOR breaks and Helmuth multi-voice growling.

“Totenritual” is a killer album and has already spent more time spinning than “Pestapokalypse VI” did when it was released almost a decade ago. This album has already secured a position in my end-of-the-year best album list and I am also excited to get to hear these brutal pieces live.

PS: if you don’t get goosebumps during the BATHORY-esque intro of “Embracing A Star”, then there is something wrong with your Metal-listening ears...





01. Baphomet
02. The Devil's Son
03. Swinefever - Regent Of Pigs
04. Apophis - Black Dragon
05. Totenkult - Exegesis Of Deterioration
06. Totenbeschwörer
07. Spell Of Reflection
08. Embracing A Star
09. Totenritual


Helmuth - Guitar, Vocals
Serpenth - Bass
Simon "BloodHammer" Schilling - Drums (session)