Belphegor

Blood Magick Necromance

01. In Blood – Devour This Sanctity
02. Rise to Fall and Fall to Rise
03. Blood Magick Necromance
04. Discipline Through Punishment
05. Angeli Mortis De Profundis
06. Impaled Upon the Tongue of Sathan
07. Possessed Burning Eyes 1997
08. Sado Messiah

[02/08/11]
[Nuclear Blast]

In their new video for “Impaled Upon the Tongue of Sathan,” Austrian blackened death metal merchants Belphegor serve up a buffet of bloodbaths, entrails, and sacrificial nude women of unclear levels of consent so NSFW that the moms in the Dead Space 2 commercials would simultaneous shit AND go blind. It’s ridiculously over-the-top and, coupled with lyrics such as “resurrection never coming/savor blood cum/revel -in the choir of scream—die!” big promises are made of excess and extremity for the band’s 9th full length, Blood Magick Necromance.

And while the band does bring the heavy, the greatest shock on the album is how workmanlike and (relatively) tasteful the whole thing is. When frontman/guitarist Helmuth, per the rules dictated in Hoyle’s Guide to Metal Press Releases, claims that the record is the band’s “most epic and monumental work to date,” it’s easy to translate the statement as “an album of good ideas drowning in Manheim Blackroller symphonic dorkery and a couple of ten minute soundscapes.” But, while symphonic textures are employed, they’re used mainly as just that…texture to fill the moments of space when the band pulls the reigns on the skullfucking long enough for you to absorb the gravity of Hell before demons turn the corner to rip your guts out.  No Vampire Freak choral shortcuts here.

Opening track “In Blood – Devour This Sanctity” wastes no times in pleasantries, shooting out of the gate like a bullet with a frenzy of blast beats and Middle Eastern-flavored tremolo picking, delivered with a death metal density. From the beginning of that overture, the tip of the sword is in your ear and makes its way out the other side in just a shade over 40 fat-free minutes of dances between tension and release, frenzy and space, chugging riffs and zombie hummingbird flurries, screeching howls at the moon and fist pumping war metal choruses.

Black metal had a banner year of innovation in 2010 on albums as varied as Nachmtystium’s BM-engine–in-an-industrial-chassis Addicts and Agalloch’s mournful Marrow of the Spirit. In the wake of records like these, this release sounds old-fashioned in its use of the tried and true tools of the blackened toolbox. But if Blood Magick Necromance isn’t the razor sharp blade of the cutting edge, it’s wildly effective in economy and execution. There are few wasted notes and all of the performances are spot-on. Particular note should be made of drummer Martin Jovanovic’s hairpin turns and extraordinary sense of texture and color on the cymbals.  He’s the album’s secret weapon.

If there were a nit to pick, it would be the vocals sitting a bit low in the mix.  Even though no wheels are being reinvented here, the songwriting is solid, and it would be nice to hear Helmuth’s screeches and howls further up front, particularly when the band plays fewer notes to make way for a huge chorus like on “Discipline Through Punishment.” But these are small matters on the whole, and, despite the impression you’d get from their penchant for smeared corpse paint and blood on tits, the band has crafted a thoroughly professional release.

Belphegor – Blood Magick Necromance gets…

4/5

– WG

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