Belphegor Breakdown New Album ‘Conjuring The Dead’ Track By Track

By on 11 August 2014

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Seeing as Belphegor‘s new album ‘Conjuring The Dead’ is released today, this seemed like the perfect time for Terrorizer’s Faye Coulman to catch up with the band and hear their track-by-track breakdown of the record – and gain an insight into the illness that has seen frontman Helmuth battling for his life over the past few years…

Belphegor’s blackened, machinegun-paced contortions may have long thrived off deathly, diabolical energies, but when a near-fatal illness left frontman Helmuth literally fighting for his life, few would have imagined a positive impact on the creative process. Yet, as the Austrian aggressors near the now-imminent release of ‘Conjuring The Dead’, the visionary vocalist explains how this potentially lethal, life-altering event galvanised the making of their most dynamic material to date.

“I always had in the back of my mind, and feared after my life-threatening illness, that this could be the last Belphegor album, so I didn’t want to fuck around, I wanted to do things absolutely right,” reveals frontman Helmuth Lehner on the perilously close encounter with death that proved so instrumental in spawning the Austrians’ latest bone-splintering studio output. With his harrowing struggle with typhoid fever having supplied the songwriter with no small amount of unearthly, nightmarish inspiration, it’s precisely this potentially fatal illness that brought unprecedented urgency and focus to the creative process. Of the unforgivingly sustained assault on the senses that followed, Helmuth elaborates, “‘Conjuring The Dead’ was heavily inspired by my own actual dance with death. My health issues and recovery affected everything regarding the new album, the writing process, the band, my life. There were many delays and setbacks as I had to submit to my new limitations. I never worked so hard on another record, so I can’t wait until it gets released and I have the physical album in my hands. It’s always a very special moment to me when I get to see all the hard work, the sweat, the sacrifice – that it all was worth it.”

Underpinning a livid, jugular-ripping exercise in masterfully engineered ultra-violence, ‘Gasmask Terror’ formed the first tantalising offering to be extracted from this tautly-executed long-player. But as much as the track’s dizzyingly aggressive appeal made for a suitably explosive debut, this more typical facet of the Belphegor sound represents but one dimension of ‘Conjuring The Dead’s’ genre-crossing content. From the bone-scraping fretwork and Far Eastern flourishes of its thoroughly mesmeric title track through to ‘Black Winged Torment’s’ insanely-paced momentum, the bludgeoning, brimstone-scorched energies that underpin Belphegor’s legendary craft have never been so instinctively aligned.

On the seemingly limitless energy and inspiration that continues to sustain the band’s devilish, constantly evolving output, the vocalist concludes, “We’ve always done our own thing. That’s why we’ve survived this long and still release and create brutal musick. On each album we’ve experimented, added new elements and structures, worked with different musicians and producers, always bringing in new blood and ideas. With Erik Rutan at the helm of production and contributing great ideas, pushing us to be better than ever before, we are victorious!”

Words: Faye Coulman

‘CONJURING THE DEAD’ TRACK-BY-TRACK’

GASMASK TERROR
“The bone-crushing ‘Gasmask Terror’ doesn’t reflect all of the content or the entire concept of the full album. I wanted to do some war-related and downfall of humanity-themed verses once again. 14 years ago, we did the first track entitled ‘S.B.S.R’ with war-related lyrics on ‘Necrodaemon Terrorsathan’ (2000). We wanted to go for a fast, typical Belphegor track. This track has everything we stand for.”

CONJURING THE DEAD
“The second single we just released with the music video is ‘Conjuring The Dead’, a double bass assault. Totally different than ‘Gasmask Terror’.I also change vokills here and there, since the brutal tracks called for more death-growl style vocals, which has surprised some of our audience. What anyone else thinks won’t affect me that much, really. I just do my own thing, walk my own path and decide for myself. Some people like it and support us, which I really appreciate. Some hate it or are offended – all fine by me.”

IN DEATH
“‘In Death’ is about my return on stage and fronting my band again, my experience with dancing with the dead. It’s a straightforward death/thrash metal track. We never wrote a song like that on any Belphegor LP before.”

 REX TREMENDAE MAJESTATIS
“For the exalted track entitled ‘Rex Tremendae Majestatis’, we added a lot classical tones in the guitar department. The title is taken from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s last composition, ‘Requiem’. He wrote it on his deathbed. He knew he would die soon, which shows how good artists can get when they feel threatened, or know their time is up! The song has influences by this composition when it comes to the intensity of the atmosphere. I have to be careful with such statements because I don’t want to be, as often as it happens, misinterpreted. I’m not a composer like Mozart, he was a genius. But this track is exactly what I felt, which my aim was, as I started creating ‘Rex Tremendae Majestatis’ and when I listen to ‘Requiem’.”

BLACK WINGED TORMENT
“While ‘Black Winged Torment’ and ‘Gasmask Terror’ are typical Belphegor tracks, ‘Black Winged Torment’ is, along with our beloved ‘Lucifer Incestus’, the fastest song we ever wrote. The dynamic of this track is unreal; it will be devastating in a live situation.”

THE EYES
“‘The Eyes’ is a guitar intermezzo, it calms everything down after the first five brutal sound collages, so people can take a breath and get prepared for the next assault. I played the classic acoustic guitar and over that, you hear a lead guitar screaming. After ‘The Eyes’, we start with this technical death monster entitled ‘Legions of Destruction’.”

LEGIONS OF DESTRUCTION
On the guest vocals featuring Deicide’s Glen Benton and Mayhem’s Attila Csihar: “This idea was stuck in my head for a long time. Truly, it’s really an honour to me. I appreciate their vocal styles and what their work brought to the extreme metal community. Glen is my favourite death vocalist and Attila my favourite black metal/avantgarde singer. Both bands in the beginning were very important and inspiring to Belphegor. It’s an honour that they put their magick on this track.

FLESH, BONES AND BLOOD
“On ‘Flesh, Bones and Blood’ we also touched a new territory. The track comes with an industrial feeling and slam death metal guitars, with a ritual atmosphere in the chorus.”

PACTUM IN AETERNUM
“The outro/epilogue of ‘Pactum In Aeternum’ is all played with natural instruments, most of which are self-made. A lot of parts there are played with real bones (humans and animals) – menacing and dark! They were created by Kramatach, an archaic cave band from Austria.”

‘Conjuring The Dead’ is out now on Nuclear Blast

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