Wednesday, July 24, 2024
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Label: Nuclear Blast

Date: July 29th, 2022

Sometimes I really hate being right. I had a feeling how this is going to go down ever since it was announced that the new Belphegor record will be titled “The Devils”. I mean, we’re talking about a band whose career spans such ludicrous titles as “Necrodaemon Terrorsathan”, “Goatreich – Fleshcult” or “Bondage Goat Zombie”, as well as beautifully blasphemous “The Last Supper”, “Blood Magick Necromance” or “Pestapokalypse VI”. And then they bring forth “The Devils”. Simple, easy to remember and even easier to forget.

A voice screamed in my ears that this one is going to fall into the gathering of mediocrities. At least when it comes to Belphegor’s creative output, because ninety nine percent of bands out there would kill to be able to write even the lousiest Belphegor album. That’s precisely why it is such a bitter disappointment when the Austrians walk on the midfield.

Okay, I’m of the opinion that the band peaked on “Bondage Goat Zombie”. However, none can accuse them of pushing weak records afterwards. Among those, one can easily place “The Devils” on top. Mostly because it seems as if Belphegor is well aware they need to move forward in order to be able to stay where they are. Naturally, they do not sit around waiting for something to happen on its own. Belphegor are natural born hunters, with a sense of smell far surpassing those of their wannabes. Hence, they give you the centerpieces of “The Devils”.

Starting with track number two, “Totentanz – Dance Macabre” and ending with “Virtus Asinaria – Prayer”, we are given a four song climax to this album. Oh, how I long for an EP, which could’ve been called “Glorifizierung des Teufels” and with the four songs within be in its full capacity to enslave the extreme metal world once and for all.

The four tracks in question (the fourth being “Damnation – Hoellensturz”) are epic in proportion. Monumentally rich with differing elements, but mostly filled to the brim with exciting and somewhat melodic lead guitars. They vary in tempos. They are atmospherically colored in the darkest shades of any given color.

Lastly, they are a signpost as to what Belphegor could be up to in the future.

As for the other four tracks (not counting the unnecessary medley called “Blackest Sabbath 1997”), they are as Belphegor sounding as it is possible. Bits and pieces give out something extra, but very few. Like the thrashing in “Kingdom of Cold Flesh”.

The rest is classical Belphegor. Massive, brutal, blasphemous. Creative, for sure. Imaginative, absolutely. Repetitive, sadly.

Sure, Belphegor can afford it. They’ve made a sound of their own and they cannot be tarred and feathered for having a “day off”. They’ve made a legacy for themselves that will surely not suffer from one slight miss. Not the least bit from quite a good shot, such as “The Devils”. The album is just not up there with the best these Austrians produced before. Still, and I repeat, this record of mountains away from many who would’ve given their right hands to sound this convincing.

Belphegor is a top notch band, even if not at the top of their game!


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