ALBUM REVIEW: Totenritual – Belphegor

With ten albums under their belt, Austria’s BELPHEGOR have already created a solid body of work that has seen them become one of the bigger names on the extreme metal underground. They may not have risen to the height of some other black metal bands, but their consistently strong output and intense live shows sees a fair amount of of anticipation for number number eleven.

The album opens with Baphomet in a hail of blast beats, riffs and vocalist Helmuth’s familiar deathly growls. There are also some some slower heavier moments towards the end, before it comes to an abrupt end. The Devil’s Son is up next and brings in more of a traditional black metal sound, a lot faster and more chaotic, before that ends with an acoustic outro. This is a pattern which the album follows, switching between full on blasts of noise and also a whole variety of other influences and ideas, which really adds a lot to the album as a whole.

As the album progresses from Swinefever – Regent of Pigs and its classic death metal approach, through Apophis – Black Dragon‘s black metal leanings (although it does contain a killer doom laden riff at the end of the track) the constant switching of styles continually draws the listener in deeper into their world. The middle of the album throws a bit of a curveball, with the slow lumbering Totenkult – Exegesis of Deterioration before an instrumental signals the beginning of the final phase of Totenritual. The final three tracks build and build until the fast paced title track closes out a diverse and very interesting album.

BELPHEGOR have managed to marry death and black metal in a way that many of their peers have tried, but just fallen short of. The way they incorporate so much without losing focus or impact is one of the reasons they become such a force within the scene. Each track on its own has its own individuality and identity, but there is something in all of them that brings them all together as part of this particular album. More often than not it’s Helmuth’s vocals or the guitars of Serpenth being reigned in occasionally. Either way, it works and it works very well. On the first couple of listens the middle section does seem a little out of place but on repeated listens that little break is needed before the final onslaught begins. Definitely a grower, but well worth sticking with, because you will be rewarded.

Rating: 8/10

Totenritual - Belphegor

Totenritual is out now via Nuclear Blast Records.

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