Belphegor – “Conjuring The Dead” (Nuclear Blast Records)
It sure ain’t The Sound Of Music! Unbelievably hailing from Salzburg, the Austrian city famed for being the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart as well as where ‘The Sound Of Music’ was filmed, comes the foul, blasphemous stench of the demon prince Belphegor. With Poland’s Behemoth raising the stakes in the black / death league this year, Belphegor have risen to the challenge in their own right by not just matching that nuclear assault musically but sinking deeper into the pits of hell with their perversity and fetishness – just check out that Anton Siro cover! Listening to Belphegor actually sounds like the chaos of hell unleashed from the tormented wails of tortured women to front man / guitarist Helmuth’s own bestial vocals n screams as he invokes infernal fire from whirring demonic riffola to a blast beat drum assault that would a put Panzer to shame on the likes of the ultra evil chugging ‘In Death’ or the all out ‘Lucifer, Take Her!’. Completely OTT, “Conjuring The Dead” is an intense hell ride from start to finish, and yet, it’s hard to to ignore the majesty of Mozart with Helmuth indulging in some virtuoso heavy metal soloing in the quiet interlude of ‘The Eyes’ as well as bringing in some tasteful exotic melodies here n there. With matching raw production courtesy of Erik Rutan, the full brutality and no holds barred desperation of Belphegor’s performance can be felt in what seems like a serious reflection of Helmuth’s recent dance with death vividly personified through the band’s evolved musicianship. Whilst not reveling in their prior epic glory of relentless blast beat monsters, “Conjuring The Dead” not only moves the band forward in attaining the pinnacle of extreme metal but without a shadow of a doubt sets the standard in absolute decadence par excellence!