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Belphegor The Devils


Album Review: BELPHEGOR The Devils

7.5 Reviewer

It's hard to believe that Belphegor is now releasing their twelfth studio record, but here we are. The Devils is eight original tracks plus one bonus song that will whisk you away from that warm, sandy beach right into the midst of a ritual sacrifice nestled somewhere in a snow-covered remote Austrian forest.

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Belphegor's 2014 LP, Conjuring the Dead, was one of their greatest triumphs. Does The Devils measure up? Well, not quite. But let's not forget that Conjuring the Dead was lightning in a bottle, with the title track largely considered as one of the best extreme metal songs the year had to offer and "Gasmask Terror" as a close second. Of course, there are some real gems on this newest record including "Totentanz – Dance Macabre" which is filled with the band's signature tremolo guitar at breakneck speed. The lyric video itself is apparently too much for YouTube these days as well.

"Virtus Asinaria – Prayer" is a slightly slower song with layered guitars and a brooding, hellish dissonance that builds affect and emotion. Rather than tear your cochleas to shreds quickly, Belphegor opts a more circuitous route. Undoubtedly Black, melodic and Satanic, this particular song and video rather fervently embrace the Belphegor aesthetic on The Devils. The video is also beautifully shot and really captures the essence of the band in an intimate performance (how come nobody calls me for these video shoots?).

Overall, what makes this record a bit different from many of the band's past efforts is the pacing and the tempo. This record is a bit slower than much of their work. For some listeners that's going to be appreciated and for others they might want a bit more speed. "Damnation," for example, is a slow but heavy cut that relies greatly on atmosphere. In this respect, Belphegor seems to take a play out of the latest Behemoth playbook. "Creature of Fire" is even slower – much slower in fact – and comes off as something you might hear as part of a musical score.

When you examine the entire record, it is still unmistakably Belphegor and crunchy tracks like "Ritus Incendium Diabolus" are going to give fans a lot to really chew on, kind of like the young woman in the video below who seems to have a strong liking for extra rare pork. As with many of the songs on The Devils there are some really well developed choruses and pre-chorus segments that will quickly make their way into your skull and linger there. "Ritus" is one of them as is "Kingdom of Cold Flesh" and the brilliant "Damnation – Hoellensturz," that also features one of Helmuth's most fantastic guitar solos.

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After a number of listens, The Devils comes off as piece of music that signifies a ritual. Moods shift. Time changes with lots of buildups and breaks. There is an expert integration of acoustic instruments. These are some of the aspects of The Devils that will take you a bit by surprise.There is intricacy here and a firm desire to craft something that is more than just a compendium of songs. The theme is clear and the execution is solid. Now, with that being said, would I have preferred a bit more speed and ferocity? I would. (I should mention though that the bonus track of "Blackest Sabbath" is a blistering treat). But if you're looking for something that will evoke emotion on those dark and lonely August nights, The Devils is your record.

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