10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on August 5, 2014
Conjuring the Dead arrived in my mailbox back on July 25. I had pre-ordered it from Nuclear Blast with the t-shirt bundle, which also came with a poster and they threw in some stickers as well. I’ve had about a week to digest Conjuring the Dead. Let’s get right to the main question: would it be as good as Walpurgis Rites: Hexenwahn and Blood Magik Necromance?
I think it’s fair to say Conjuring the Dead is as good as Walpurgis Rites or anything from the Belphegor catalog, but I would be exaggerating to say it is best of their albums. Rather than taking a binary approach of better or worse, it may be better to view Conjuring the Dead as an evolution of the band, one that I’m enjoying as much I did their previous albums.
Conjuring the Dead continues Belphegor’s evolution toward a more straightforward blackened death metal sound. Songs like Gasmask Terror and Pactum in Aeternum solidify Belphegor’s place as masters of the blackened death metal style. That being said, there is still tons of classic Belphegor represented on this album by harkening back to early black metal. Lucifer, Take Her! is squarely in the sound that Belphegor has carved out for itself. The album never becomes monotonous, but rather it moves through different musical motifs seamlessly. We arrive at the track The Eyes, where we encounter a lull in the action represented by a simple acoustic melody overlaying some wickedly mournful shredding. Then like a full body slam Legions of Destruction kicks in with a beat like a curb stomping leading into some technical death metal breakdowns before the outright rhythmic assault begins.
Of course, with Belphegor you get massive guitar shredding and drums that sound like .50 cal machine guns. I love the staccato rhythms Belphegor seems to be able to twist into contorted melodies that underlie their otherwise abrasive songs. The musicianship demonstrated on Conjuring the Dead is prodigious. Definitely my favorite metal album of 2014.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on August 13, 2014
After allowing themselves an uncharacteristically lengthy period of time to lick their wounds (and let frontman Helmuth recover from a typhoid infection that nearly killed him), Belphegor blast back onto the scene with another new full-length in 2014’s “Conjuring The Dead.” This album is the tenth proper record from a band that long ago established themselves as the absolute best musical exports ever to emerge from Austria.
“Conjuring…” finds Helmuth and Company mostly decapitating the listener with their own brand of furious and crushing extremity. But with that said, this record is also arguably Belphegor’s most experimental offering to date. It finds some tempo variation, and even a few heavenly melodic guitar flourishes to enter the picture, thus also helping to produce a definite leap forward in quality of songwriting, and forming a significant amount of texture and increased number of standout tracks.
The title song briefly takes a break from its huge, crunching, doom-soaked riffs and brutal, commanding, bottom-of-the-gut-scraping bellows to incorporate a gorgeous little bit of colorful acoustic guitar nuance, as well some fleeting use of operatic-sounding backing vocals. The end result is a song that establishes a fantastic juxtaposition, and one that brilliantly offsets crushing extreme metal with misleadingly peaceful melodies. And later cuts, including “Rex Tremendae Majestatis” and the closing “Pactum In Aeternum,” work similarly. The former of these two tunes opens with a somber-sounding bit of acoustic guitar melodicism before eventually taking flight with pummeling blasts, steamrolling guitar leads, and roaring vocals. Said acoustic guitar work makes another appearance later on in the track, too, and a cool little (and surprisingly technical) bass solo also highlights the arrangements, here.
And even more experimental still is a track called “The Eyes.” It serves as a blissful mid-album oasis, an interlude piece that is positively breathtaking, as it is a melodeath-inspired melodic guitar interlude that would not be out of place coming from the likes of In Flames. It augments its heavy use of gorgeous twin-guitar harmonies and lightly-picked strings to go along with some positively wailing melodic guitar soloing, and does so to excellent effect.
But it is all quickly forgotten about by the time that “Legions Of Destruction” rolls around. This very appropriately-named tune is the first ever Belphegor song to feature guest musicians -- and man, do they ever perform, too! Deicide’s Glen Benton lends the track with his trademarked low, visceral growl/bellow, while Mayhem frontman Attila Csihar chips in with some unnervingly high-pitched shrieks. As a result, “Legions…” ultimately comes across playing like a nice, well-placed, and very tactful salute to the band’s influences, and one that, with its mammoth riffs and hammering hyperblasts, is the song to beat in the album’s epic and highpoint departments.
And most of the rest of the record finds Belphegor doing what they are best at: Hammering out deeply-cutting, pain-inducing death metal with blackened tinges and at neck-achingly fast speeds. Opener “Gasmask Terror” barrels and steamrolls out of the starting gate like many-a-great Marduk and old-school Darkthrone song, spitting sparks as drives the rhythms, rattling off one pummeling, “rat-tat-tat” machine gun fast gravity blast after another, and doing so with impossible ease. The song is also of note for working up a mean, thrashing guitar groove, featuring bah-roo-tal vo-kills, and also ripping out a mini but wild, Slayer-ish guitar solo in the process.
Track number three, “In Death,” plays almost like a piece of full-on death-thrash, as it is a catchy, chugging number peppered with blistering solos. And “Black Winged Torment” is another recommended track, because, despite featuring a little introductory sample (which is sure to get all of the hairs on your body to stand straight upright), it is mostly a frenetic, careening, and bludgeoning blast-fest through and through. And two others are “Flesh, Bones, And Blood,” a much more restrained number with meaty, chugging rhythms and a terrifically ominous, looming ambiance/mood to go along with its pounding, foundation-moving, cavity-shaking riffage; and “Lucifer, Take Her!,” which is nearly epic in scope as it expertly staggers two seemingly polar opposite tempos. It begins on a creepily slow note, with pounding, grinding guitar licks and mid-tempo pacing anchored by motoring double kick drums, but soon escalates to murderous blackened death territory with frenetic, seizure-inducing drum blasts and shriek-happy black metal vocals.
“Conjuring The Dead” is the sound of a band hitting on all cylinders, and clearly having quite a bit of fun as they simply shred your speakers and rattle the foundation around you to its very core. So yeah, the point here is that there should be absolutely no debate as to the fact of whether or not Belphegor are back, and are sounding as dangerous, vibrant, and focused as ever. That fact alone should make “CTD” a worthy purchase.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 13, 2014
Well put together album with hard hitting deep death metal riffs, a good bit of melody, and a great amount of variety in structure and sound. It definitely has that element of traditional Florida death metal sound to it, which complements the strong blackened elements. Taken alone, it sounds to me more like a death metal band moving in a blackened direction than the converse which gives it that crushing hard hitting sound although at times their black metal roots come out strongly, especially at the end of the album. Being a punk rock guy who dabbles heavily in grind and metal its great to see these "traditional" bands put out very high quality and well produced albums without loosing the energy and excitement that often gets lost when bands work too hard perfecting sounds. Make no mistake there is no "core" element in this album whatsoever, but its energy level is on par with those great hardcore punk and grindcore albums without sacrificing the musicianship and complexity that metal fans expect. I think this album would easily appeal to anyone into extreme music and the overt satanism should not put you off as this is in no way a crap two riff black metal album for kids to scare their parents with, but a complex, dare I say, masterpiece.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 9, 2014
Listening to Belphegor for the past 2-3 years, I own several of their CD's and love all of them. But Blood Magick Necromance, with production done by Hypocrisy frontman Peter Tägtgren was the one album I felt had more of the blackened death metal that I had expected mixed with the actual black metal sounding production that Peter always brings to albums he produces. When I found out that they were recording the next album at Mana Recording with Erik Rutan (Hate Eternal, Cannibal Corpse, Goatwhore, Tombs) in Florida, my simple response was "HOLY S***!" Thoughts about death metal bands like Cannibal Corpse, Decide, Suffocation, Morbid Angel and other bands that have recorded in Florida easily came to mind. Mix that with blackened death metal = pure metal heaven. Originally the album was supposed to be out last year, but they apparently took their time in making sure that nothing was rushed and everything came out perfect as this was recorded over several recording sessions. Was the long delay justified? Yes. This is everything you would hope to hear and then some when you want blackened death metal. I give this a big recommendation.