Austrian blackened death metal titans Belphegor have gathered in the halls of Nuclear Blast once more and forged their 11th full-length album which goes by the name Totenritual. Hammering the anvil on this release is drummer Simon “BloodHammer” Schilling, who has recently announced his departure from the band. Belphegor is infamous for their terrifyingly brutal approach and have proven themselves plenty with each new album. Totenritual is not any different. As was the case with the album Conjuring the Dead, they seem to be taking a different direction compared to their old albums which leads towards technical death metal rather than blackened death.
The black metal influences are still noticeable and the signature Belphegor sound is still mostly there, but heavy grunting and technical death metal riffs are slowly overtaking their music. Opener Baphomet makes that new direction pretty clear, metaphorically announcing it by brutally knocking you on the head with a massive sledgehammer that has “Belphegor anno ’17” written on the sides. Most of the song consists of grunts and lower-pitched demonic growls while the music switches on and off between fast parts and slow parts with a lot of palm mutes. After this brutal assault on your earholes, a track from the horror movie “The Devils” introduces the second song The Devil’s Son, which leans more towards their old style of playing. The outro in this song is pretty nice and unexpected considering the character of the album, seeing as it closes off with a calm acoustic part. You will soon realise this was just the calm before the storm, as the next track Swinefever – Regent of Pigs starts, where all hell breaks loose again.The rest of the songs on the album seem to follow the new style, with the exception of Apophis – Black Dragon, Spell of Reflection and the title track where black metal takes the lead again. Contrary to what you would expect from a title track, the song Totenritual is quite short and doesn’t really sum up the album like most title tracks do.
That being said, it’s a great album but definitely not the staple piece of their work. The grunting vocals tend to be a bit monotone for me and the album just doesn’t compare to Lucifer Incestus, which is my personal Belphegor favourite. Still well worth the listen for a more death metal oriented audience though.
Release date: September 15, 2017
Label: Nuclear Blast
2. The Devil’s Son
3. Swinefever – Regent of Pigs
4. Apophis – Black Dragon
5. Totenkult – Exegesis of Deterioration
7. Spell of Reflection
8. Embracing a Star
10. Stigma Diabolicum (live)
11. Gasmask Terror (live)