If Belphegor proves one thing with their newest release, it’s that it is absolutely possible to create very heavy, blast beat driven music that is also catchy. This is something that a fair chunk of extreme metal bands are either unable to do or flat out refuse to do. This kind of balance, coupled with the band’s great musicianship and the album’s slick production values make this type of metal much more accessible to the average heavy metal fan. This may not be something that is pleasing to the diehard extreme metal fan but for most, Conjuring The Dead should be a highly satisfying album.
Beyond creating what is a well written and accessible album, Belphegor is also able to seamlessly mix vastly contrasting paces within each song. This particular album adds in more varied musical elements than their past releases bringing some new wrinkles to the blackened death metal sound they have become known for. There is thrash, melodic metal and atmospheric aspects peppered throughout. “Conjuring the Dead”, “Rex Tremendae Majestatis”, “Legions of Destruction” and “Lucifer, Take Her” are the best examples of tracks that jump from heavy plodding metal to fast thrash riffs to hyper fast blast beat blackened death metal without a hitch. The band even brings in guest vocalists Glen Benton of Deicide and Attila of Mayhem for the track “Legions of Destruction” to help show off that great mix of black and death metal even more. The former two tracks even incorporate well placed acoustic sections.
The album’s harmonious blending also works well on an inter-song basis. Conjuring The Dead begins perfectly with the straight out face ripping track “Gas Mask Terror” and fades out on an equally excellent note with a more atmospheric finale called Pactum In Aeternum. All songs in between work together in a similar fashion. “Conjuring the Dead” and “Flesh Bones and Blood” kick off with slower, more deliberate riffs and are then followed up respectively with “In Death” and “Lucifer, Take Her” both of which spring forth in a much faster fashion.
More positives come in the form of excellent musicianship and vocal work. Guitarist Helmuth provides both ripping riffs and heavy down tuned guitars. Plus his short chaotic old school death metal solos are something you just don’t hear enough anymore in contemporary extreme metal. Serpenth really helps to set the album’s exceedingly creepy atmosphere with super heavy and haunting bass lines. Of all the great musical work, the drumming courtesy of Marthyn really stands out. Much of the time blast beat drumming can be overly tumultuous and can seem way overdone. Marthyn executes quite possibly the most technically perfect blast beat drumming I have ever heard. It never once felt off putting or out of place. On top of his great guitar work, Helmuth moves easily between beastly guttural growls and scary high pitched shrieks helping to meld everything together. The album is produced by Hate Eternal front man Erik Rutan. This is some of the cleanest production and best mixing I have ever heard on a black metal album. Rutan really helps to bring out all the dark depth that Belphegor has to offer.
For those of you looking to get a quick sample of what the album has to offer, I would definitely have to recommend starting with the tracks “Gasmask Terror”, “Conjuring the Dead” and “In Death”. All the album’s full tracks are excellent, but these three stood out the most to me. “Gasmask Terror” is heavy, no nonsense extreme metal. The track even mixes in a crazy solo and an ending that includes some solid guitar harmonization. The other two tracks bring solid and catchy riffs that bring a slight death thrash feel to the album. With that said, don’t just dabble in this album. Dive head first into the whole thing. You won’t regret it.
Belphegor had a lot to live up to as other blackened death metal bands including Behemoth and Goatwhore have already turned out gems this year. Thankfully Belphegor was once again up to the task and gave us an album that definitely measures up. I do wish that the record had been just a bit longer. The back half seems to go by just a little too fast. Other than that I have absolutely no complaints.
What we get here is extremely heavy, catchy and accessible extreme metal straight from the collective brains of Helmuth and Serpenth. The album certainly delves more deeply into brutal death metal than it does black metal this time around, but that absolutely worked for me. This is bone crushing heavy metal that will put you through the floor from the very first notes. However, I think even fans of more traditional heavy metal will be able to appreciate the amazing writing, musicianship and catchy tunes that Conjuring The Dead has to offer. The album really contains the best of all worlds.
Conjuring The Dead will be released on August 5, 2014 through Nuclear Blast Records. Take a listen and give us your opinion of the album in our comments section.
I also got the chance to interview Belphegor front man, Helmuth, about the new album, his brush with death and much more. You can check it out HERE.