Belphegor – The Devils

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Austrian blackened death metal titans Belphegor launched its 12th album “The Devils” on July 29th via Nuclear Blast Records. During a five years hiatus, mastermind Helmuth (guitars, and vocals) and Serpenth haven't forgotten their black metal roots :the overt sound of blackish growls and the machine gun blast beats have again gone the next level in hell. Belphegor invokes the evil forces of hell. Without showing any signs of weakness Belphegor has managed to deliver a dark and sinister album with an absolute emphasis on chugging guitars still remaining the brute force.

The Devils’ offers a demonic soundtrack to Walpurgis. The guitar arrangements artfully expose the trademarks of the tremolos on the opening track. However, the very essence of evil is the sinister growling of Helmuth holding the power to the burgeoning wickedness. Ever since their early years, Belphegor has built a strong discography combining the extreme brutality of death metal with a mélange of pure black metal. The 8 blackened anthems blaze like hellfire. With so malevolence Belphegor injects spiteful riffs. The following track ‘Totentanz – Dance Macabre’ is just as aggressive as the first, with its blazing tremolos and heavy blast beats wreaking havoc where the melodic guitars serve as thick layers.

Belphegor dives further into the melodic territory as ‘Glorifizierung des Teufels’ brings in abrasive heaviness and clean guitars that weave choruses of chant. For the first time the Austrian duo utilizes some new formulas. The guitars flow through frenzied rhythms, but the tempo changes to include powerful shifts in dynamics. The album cover art was designed by Seth Siro of Septicflesh who has also designed the album covers for the previous albums. Though it seems that Helmuth and Serpenth have traded aggression for more tempo changes and atmospheric hooks ‘Damnation – Höllensturz’ imposes complex technical riffs that blend rich atmospherics with the insertion of the chorus, before a brief melody becomes apparent in the guitar work. Having said that there are plenty of abrasive riffs, Middle-Eastern melodies, harmony and guitar solos lending a bombastic tone to this track.

 

Saturating the songs in nightmarish qualities ‘Virtus Asinaria – Prayer’ conjures up a blend of cinematic themes. The innovative guitar work here makes it one of the most atmospheric and melodic songs the band has ever written. While the songs on ‘The Devils’ are more inclined to the melodic and mid-tempo, it’s certainly more diverse than the past albums. The duo unexpectedly employs the chorales as a hooky element to lend a demonic beauty. Regardless of the chants and the theatrical embellishments, the 12th opus breaks new sonic grounds that manifest hallmarks of a new era.

Besides the samples which are utilized on a few tracks, the lead guitars and the solos are very fulfilling. ‘The Devils’ is a very well-produced album: you can hear the sound clarity of the instruments. Helmut growls are performed professionally. The main death metal riff sounds fucking evil and brutal, along with the featuring chorus which is layered with lead guitars and shredding solos. Right from the opening moments of ‘Kingdom of Cold Flesh’ the drums take a ferocious approach: razor-sharp riffs and dual shrieks filled with brazen blast beats. The atonal layers of tremolos boast the intensity. While the drums excel at the rapid speed, it perfectly contrasts with frenzied growls and sporadic chorals sounding somewhere akin an early albumslike ‘Blutsabbath’.

Loud chugging guitars segue into one hellish bombardment on ‘Ritus Incendium Diabolus’, delivering a blistering piece of blackened death metal fury. Belphegor shifts all your attention to their abrasive riffs. The slower moments always drip with blasphemous choirs where the atonal tremolos and the clean guitars flow along majestically. Drums play a vital element in the composition that flawlessly unifies luxurious chorals without diminishing the driving power of the guitars as the songs shift into shredding guitar solos. The final track ‘Creature Of Fire’ exploits melodious strings with an extraordinary performance of the female chant which brings grandiose closure to the album.

REVIEW SCORE

  • Music / Songwriting 7/10
  • Vocals / Lyrics 8/10
  • Mix / Production 9/10
  • Artwork & Packaging 7/10
  • Originality 8/10
7.8

‘The Devils’ is a well-crafted album that brings atmospheric qualities and blackened death metal aggression to new standards.

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