Belphegor -The Devils Review

My favorite part about this job is when I pick up a new promo from a band I haven’t listened to in a long time. In the early ’00s, Belphegor was on regular rotation as I delved into the world of black metal. But, like other bands in my lifetime, I tend to shelve them as I explore different genres. But, the beauty of music is that it’s eternal, and it’ll be there when I’m ready for it. And, this week, I’ve been in black/death bliss. As with all new promos, I explore the band’s entire discography before diving into the new record. Even those bands with whose work I’m very familiar. It isn’t just a process. It’s a ritual. It helps me absorb the music before reviewing a band’s new release. Sometimes, discovering that the new release is far superior to that band’s catalog is exciting. Other times, I’m disappointed when that band has fallen off the wagon, and their new material is utter trash. But, at the moment, I’m having a wonderful time rekindling with the mighty Belphegor.

As I approach the end of Belphegor‘s catalog, I’m reminded of how consistent the band has been for the last 25 years. Even other AMG writers have given equal praise to the band’s material—regardless if it’s 1997’s classic Blutsabbath or 2011’s monstrous Blood Magick Necromance. As the band moved into this hard-hitting era, Belphegor‘s output didn’t disappoint. You can attribute their success to familiarity and consistent deliverance of concussive riffage. But, after all these years of comfortability and expected outcome, something looms in the skies above Austria. Whatever’s in the air, Belphegor has partooken. And it isn’t what you expect.

The Devils is sneaky. You won’t witness its secrets until you dive deeper. The opening title track is a solid piece of work that feels like, at any second, it’s going to explode. But, this black metal beauty won’t break until the bitter end, when it fires off tasty solos and a riff that sounds like sheet metal tearing. Equally traditional, the follow-up track, “Totentanz – Dance Macabre,” charges the gates like a black bull. Adding death metal riffs and a blackened atmosphere, it erupts into a melodic, addictive chorus. But, this is short-lived as the song goes postal, delivering a killer riff and earth-shattering drum work.

Then, things get interesting. “Glorifizierung des Teufels” shifts the mood, opening with a clean guitar intro and vocals straight from Watain‘s “They Rode On.” The mood progresses as big vocals soar in the background, building a gorgeous atmosphere. But, these elements don’t end here. For the rest of the album, they’ll continue to evolve. These features shine the most in the death-centered duo, “Damnation – Höllensturz” and “Ritus Incendium Diabolus.” Both use squealing death riffs and massive charges to set the mood. Then, the enormous backing vocals surface. “Damnation – Höllensturz” uses them to explore symphonic black atmospheres with Middle Eastern influences. While “Ritus Incendium Diabolus” snaps the spell of death riffs and drum work with gorgeous clean guitars.

The most surprising track is the album closer. Tribal drums mix with layered vocals, and the moodiness increases when the female siren appears and puts The Devils to bed. As I said, The Devils isn’t what I or anyone expected. While I prefer the relentless bludgeoning most common with Belphegor releases, this new record is a pleasant escape from comfortability. It doesn’t deter the album’s impact, and these interesting influences become predictable as the album progresses. The result is that a couple of tracks blend more than intended. Unfortunately, many o’ Belphegor fans will consider The Devils a love-it or hate-it kind of album. To me, The Devils proves that Belphegor isn’t afraid of anything and won’t stop until the sky falls on us all.


Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 273 kb/s mp3
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Websites: belphegor-austria.bandcamp.com | belphegor.at | facebook.com/belphegor
Releases Worldwide: July 29th, 2022

« »