Belphegor: Satanic Blood and Black Magick

If you want Satanic blood, you got it!

 

Austrian blackened death metal horde Belphegor, led by founding and sole remaining original member Helmuth Lehner, has built its well earned and hard fought reputation on steadfast dedication to the black arts and holding to the simple yet profoundly difficult axiom of never slowing down. The band’s latest offering, Black Magick Necromance, which came out in January, is Belphegor’s ninth studio album since its first full length release just over 15 years ago. That amounts to a new full album about once every one and a half years—a feat matched by few extreme metal bands of a similar grit over the long term. And yet, not only has Belphegor managed to maintain this blistering pace of artistic output, but has also been able to avoid the pitfalls of stagnation that can dog even the most dedicated of musicians. This time around, it was classical orchestrations and a renewed and intent focus on the mysticism and atmosphere of blackened shred that took Black Magick Necromance to new places, explains Helmuth.

“You hear a lot influences of classical composers such as Brahms, Beethoven, Mozart and Bach. Mr. Sebastian Lanser and Foh Norwin Palme created some haunting orchestrations to make it all more intense and get a colder ritualistic atmosphere. There are a lot of new elements and structures added, more shredding.It's full of magick, more majestic; there's more of everything. I mean I don’t want to talk about the best Belphegor album, hell no, but the new monolith is a very special album to me. Magnificent and our most dangerous offering yet.”

Indeed, Helmuth may have placed some added pressure upon himself and his band mates when, prior to the album’s release, he, in typical black metal bombastic fashion, boasted the record would be the most epic and monumental in the band’s career. Clearly, though, Helmuth feels he has placated the fickle metal masses by fulfilling those initial hyperbolic statements with eight tracks of carefully orchestrated but equally chaotic blasting hatred. Now that the album is finally out, though, Helmuth takes a decidedly more muted but equally confident tack in describing his latest effusion of unholy creative offspring.

“Our mission is about extreme metal. No one can ignore our true dedication to music. With this new LP we have created a very solid and very special Belphegor album. It was a huge challenge to create these eight sound collages, our most varied arrangements ever composed.”

This album also saw Belphegor collaborate with extreme metal super producer Peter Tagtgren, an experience which was spread out over a little more than a month. Working with Tagtgren and being at his remote studio clearly left an indelible mark on Helmuth, the entire Belphegor camp, and the album itself.

“It was perfect. He is experienced and motivated us to give us a lot of extra energy. The nature over there, so isolated and immense. The beautiful lake close to the studio added even more to the atmosphere. You know, I come from a small village in the Austrian mountains. I love this exile. It is best to have silence to create strong blood music.”

Also contributing to the overall aesthetic of the album is its irrevocably dark and detailed cover art, which assaults the eyes courtesy of fetish photographer and former mortician Helmut Wolech. The art weaves together the themes of bondage, the demon for which Belphegor is named, and others as well, all the while drawing on the band’s past blackened, satanic imagery. In the end, though, it is the music that will resonate most, says Helmuth.

“This [cover] is a montage of two photographs. We decided on using a demoness, suiting our previous albums, with pentagram bondage and a selected goat head. The archetype Baphomet is known to be a hermaphrodite, with both the tits and the phallus. Belphegor as well can come as a man or a woman. We are playing with this symbolism, without losing the main Belphegor themes. Everything came together easily while working with [Wolech] and we all shared in the same vision for this production. Some people understand it, some don't at all. Music is what matters to me most in the end. It rules over all.”

Both lyrically and musically, Belphegor remains as blood bound as ever to its anti-Christian manifesto, a standpoint the band has never entertained the notion of abandoning. This has been one of the keys to the band’s continued success and relevance, maintaining an image born of reality and an intense scrutiny of texts related to black magic and satanic rites, rather than mere dabbling or a passing interest in the dark side and a desire to cultivate a false cloak of perceived depravity. Rather than slowing down, Helmuth, who is two years on the wrong side of 40, is instead gaining fire with advancing years.

“We try to get more intense with each album, music and lyrical wise. Call it the chaos master plan.”

This master plan will once again see Belphegor turned road warrior, as the band that never met a tour it didn’t like will find itself on the road almost non-stop until the end of July. Recently, the band found itself added to the growing list of artists that have fallen afoul of the increasing amount of red tape barring the creatively inclined from entering the U.S. and befouling it with unwanted inspiration and pagan revelry. Interestingly, this was Belphegor’s seventh tour in America, and the first time such frustrations had befallen the band. Nevertheless, the experience did nothing to deaden Belphegor’s commitment to or love of touring.

“We adore it to travel the world, to meet a lot die hard freaks and metal communities, amazing sightseeing, and bring the Belphegor plague to your town. In a live situation, we shred everything to death.”

This chapter of Belphegor’s existence will also see the band tour alongside legends such as Sepultura and Deicide, which Helmuth unequivocally and humbly states is an honor of an undertaking. Now, as the band draws nearer to its 20 year anniversary, he looks only to fanning the flames of his desire to further desecrate the planet and disseminate his band’s unique combination of black magic musicality.

“Seventeen years of chaos and excess and Belphegor is still here to celebrate supreme death and black metal art. The fire is burning. We are motivated and ready to take the world by storm. Music is passion. Magick, it is the highest art. Life without is worthless.”