ALBUM REVIEW: Belphegor – The Devils
Photo Credit: Maciej Pieloch Photography
Longevity is a quality that is often overlooked. However, when you are a blackened death metal band lining up your twelfth studio album, it can hardly be ignore. Belphegor have been plying their dark favours now for virtually three decades and have yet to waiver from their extreme blueprint. Now, in 2022, the Austrian hellraisers are back with one of their finest outings to date with The Devils.
At this point in their career fans and critics alike will know exactly what to expect from a Belphegor album and the band are more than happy to deliver on that expectation. From the very outset of the eponymous opener they set about doing what they do best, creating well-crafted, utterly blasphemous blackened death metal songs, complete with pulverising blast beats, high velocity tremolo riffing and demonic vocals.
Despite the somewhat lukewarm response to the band’s last outing on Totenritual (an album which the fans loved, yet critics for some reason reacted negatively), Belphegor have yet to take a massive misstep creatively and this album is going to sit wonderfully in and amongst their ironclad back catalogue. Songs such as Totentanz – Dance Macabre and Damnation Hoellensturz have that the kind of breakneck speed and machine gun drumming that will go down well in and amongst the band’s already stacked live repertoire. However, one of the highlights of the album comes in the form of Glorifizierung des Teufuls, one of the songs that stages the sonic battery of the sense with sections of brooding, almost death doom moments and anthemic chord progressions, the like of which we rarely see from the Austrians. A welcome change of pace indeed.
One thing that has to be admired on this album is the way that Belphegor have managed to find ways to be a little more accessible in the way that they are writing the songs, without seeming to dilute their overall sound. Virtus Asinaria – Prayer shows the band following the likes of Behemoth into the almost cinematic realm, with the inclusion of clean backing vocals and melodic hooks underlining the harsh vocals. However, if fans were starting to question for a second whether or not the band were about to hand in their black metal influences for more atmospheric pastures, then they are quickly set right with the track Ritus Incendium Diabolus, which may well be the heaviest song that Belphegor have penned in years. The is sonic barbarism. A cavalcade of technically astounding riffs, constantly shifting dynamics and the kind of vocal patterns that would make vocalists question their own abilities.
The Devils has been more than five years in the making, and it has been worth the wait and then some. Belphegor owed their fans very little, being one of the most dependable bands in the blackened death metal world for three straight decades now. Yet, even twelves albums in, they have managed to find a way to make small tweaks to the old formula and come up with a new record that will not only appease their long-standing followers, but also should be more than enough to entice new fans into their hellish clan.
Keep an eye on the end of year lists folks, because this album should be on plenty of them.
Standout Tracks: Totentanz – Dance Macabre, Ritus Incendium Diabolus
For Fans Of: Behemoth, Dark Funeral, 1349
Written by: Richard Webb