BELPHEGOR "Spitting In the Reaper's Eye"

By Dr. Abner Mality

There used to be a saying, "Heaven doesn't want me and Hell's afraid I'll take over". That might just apply to Helmuth, demonic frontman of the long-running Austrian extremists Belphegor. By all accounts, he should not be upon this Earth...In May 2012, he was struck with a severe case of typhoid and for the following 8 months he battled for his life with no guarantee of victory.

But the anger and defiance that fuels Belphegor's blasphemous metal music must have also given Helmuth the will to live. After a torturous recovery, he's emerged triumphant and as a result, Belphegor has unleashed their most ferocious album "Conjuring the Dead"...a work rife with symbolism and meaning.

This is my second go round with Helmuth, but he is not the same man I spoke to more than half a decade ago. Looking Death in the eye always changes a person, but as you will find out, it has made this prince of darkness only stronger and more determined...

WORMWOOD CHRONICLES:  Greetings and hail, Helmuth! First, the most obvious question: how are you feeling? Have you gotten back to 100% health yet?

HELMUTH: I am now fully recovered but it will never ever will be like before. Thanks to the doctors in Austria, they saved my life and I am thankful for it. I am pleased to be able to front my band again.
WC:  “Conjuring the Dead” is very fierce and angry. Is the whole record really a cry of defiance, like you are telling the world “Nothing can hold me down”?

H: "CONJURING THE DEAD" is a more brutal Death Metal approach. We wanted to return to our roots, of course with the musickal skills we have anno 2014 on our instruments.  This was the vision I had when I started to create the tracks. It’s a sort of best of BELPHEGOR record. You find everything that the band stands for. The aggression was inspired by my near-death experience and difficult recovery... that did bleed into the spirit of the album.

WC: Are the songs all ones that have been written since your illness or have some of them been around for a while?

H: The idea for REX TREMENDAE MAJESTATIS had been in my head for plus 5 years now. It was perfeCt to start this project after my rehab, since this track needed so much time til we could finish it. Slowly I shaped the track,…it took over 2 years to finish this exalted song, inspired by REQUIEM from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart ( classical composer from Austria 1756-1791 ).
WC: How important was it for you to make “Conjuring the Dead” the most powerful Belphegor ever?

H: After my operation and recovery process, I thought it might be the last BELPHEGOR Lp that I could record. With that in mind, it made me even more angry. I wanted to do things absolutely right, no fukking around…I’m very proud of the end result. The songs, the soundwall...everything is just what I had in mind. Evil Death brutality in its purest form.

WC: Does the title track “Conjuring the Dead” have a special meaning for you? Is there double meaning to a lot of the lyrics on the new album?

H: Yes. The title and themes of the album have to do with the current state of humanity. The title is also very personal, the dead also conjured me, but I stood up and fought to get my life back…and it was the hardest battle I ever had to fight, it went on for over 8 months. Everything was healing so slowly...many setbacks always kept me from doing what I wanted to. I know now how important good health is, and my kind of “Suicidal lifestyle” for +2 decades wasn't the best for my body. On the contrary ,it almost destroyed, killed me. But I do not regret it.

All is way more mature and serious when it come to this project. I also put the BDSM stuff aside, and many of the epic elements from the last release. The cover art is a good representation of the themes. This is a conceptual depiction of the world of terror we actually do live in. It’s about how I see the human race nowadays, how we destroy life/ nature, poison ourselves in a variety of ways for many reasons. We work hard to fukk up everything and dig our own graves and destroy the earth in the name of greed and might.

All is very direct, no intellectual bullshit. I mean, verses like for "GASMASK TERROR", for example, say it all, I didn't want to come up with average shit... how wrong it is to make war and that sort of thing. We first did war-related lyrics in 2000 on the Lp NECRODAEMON TERRORSATHAN, a song entitled S.B.S.R, which was also ultra-direct. As long as humans will walk the earth, there will be war. That never will stop, man. It’s the nature of men, to fight. I wanted the verses "Antigod – Antilife", very to the point. If you march on the front and start storming with your weapons to cross the lines, you don't talk like a damn author. Okay maybe some will, but these are the assholes that stay at home in their castle, just give orders and that's it. The soldier storms in and screams…fukk you all…and that’s what I wanted to create with this song... an aggressive feel lyrically and musically.

Another example: "IN DEATH" is a song about my dance with death, difficult recovery, and the battle to stand up again. I do encourage people who bought the CD to read the lyrics and form their own interpretations, as well.
WC:  “Pactum In Aeternum” is a different kind of song for Belphegor, with acoustic guitar and more melody. Is this a style you intend to explore further?

H: We had never tried something like that before…it was a great experiment, and I dig that creepy, dark atmosphere from those handcrafted instruments created from human and animal bone made by the Austrian archaic-themed band KRAMATACH that you hear during the epilogue. I've personally collected remains for 12 years's kind of a fetish. We always craft and bring new bone sculptures on stage with us for our live rituals, they're never the same. It gives the ritual extra intensity and a ceremonial atmosphere.
WC:  I think another tune that has special meaning for you would be “Flesh, Bones and Blood”. What’s the idea behind this song?

H: On "FLESH, BONES AND BLOOD" we also experimented, the track comes with an industrial touch, and sklullfukking Slam Death Metal guitars, that we never tried before. I am so proud of this album, because the way to record it was the rockiest path I’ve ever had to walk. I hope people hear that, that’s the reason why CONJURING THE DEAD is so edgy, raw and brutal. We always experiment within our style and on this album it really shows and we were victorious.
WC:  Belphegor has always been a combination of death and black metal. I sense a bit more death metal influence on “Conjuring the Dead”, particularly in the vocals. Would you agree?

H: Yes, the vocals are more Death Metal to compliment the style and direction of the album. There are still my signature heretic grunts and other familiar BELPHEGOR sounds in the vocal centre. But I needed to come up with more brutal Death grunts. The press often describes us as a Black Metal band, which I don’t really like. We were totally unorthodox, tune guitars down, play leads and try to develop, get a tight brilliant soundwall. Don't get me wrong; I dig these important bands such as MAYHEM, BURZUM, DARKTHRONE, TAAKE, MARDUK, RAGNAROK, etc but we were always primarily Death Metal. That is the true malevolent spirit of BELPHEGOR and always was. It’s very clear in the first few releases, especially..
WC:  Certainly a brush with death such as you had would change the way you look at things. Or did it? Do you look at things a little differently now?

H: It changed a lot, yes, and I see many things differently now, but I didn't turn into a damn reborn christian. Quite the contrary, man. It had some positives and a lot of negative aspects..I never thought anything like that could happen to me. I was always very active, and then within 1 week my life stopped, all stood still, I had to cancel everything…didn’t even think about the band anymore for months, just tried to get better and survive,…when you are close to death and you think, hey, fukk, man..that's it now..I am done…terrible,… I still can’t believe that I’m back and still  able to play guitar! It’s an anti-divine miracle, as Mr. Erik Rutan would say.
WC:  How have you felt on the live front? Did you have to knock off some rust after being quiet for a long time?

H: Yeah, at the beginning I was only playing guitar the first 8-10 shows to be careful and tried to check if it’s possible for me to do it all safely. The first shows weren't good. To be honest, I felt sorry for the people who attended those, but man – it was the only way to easily get back on track. After a while I started singing again, the next huge challenge. Also needed a bunch of shows to get into it again and  to fall into my usual ritual mood when I enter the stage. The guys in the band are very calm, we aren't big mouthed talkers, on the contrary…. but, when we enter the stage, a vicious tornado breaks loose.
WC: Does “Rex Tremendae Majestatis “ refer to Satan himself? If not, who is it about?

H: I describe myself as atheist with some views that are nihilistic. It’s always been this way. For "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 in his deathbed. He knew he would die soon. The song has influences from this composition when it comes to the intensity of the atmosphere. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a composer like MOZART, he was a genius. This track is exactly what I felt, which my aim was, as I started creating REX TREMENDAE MAJESTATIS and when I listen to REQUIEM. Can't wait to play this track on stage, we will premiere it during the USA raid. This is going to be ultra-evil, the tone, the vokills, the melodies…haunting!!!!!!!!
WC:  What are some of the influences on Belphegor that do NOT come from heavy metal?

H: Clearly it is classical musick composers, it’s  majestic and archaic,…I also dig flamenco guitars, you can compare it with extreme metal, since it’s also fast and very dynamic.
WC: Do you feel you can now pretty much defeat any obstacle in your path?
H: My life has shown me borders I never knew before. I never give up on my visions, my dreams, though.
WC: If you could ask any 3 people from history to dinner, who would they be?

H: I would choose a guitar lesson instead of wasting time with dinners. Randy Rhoades, Gary Moore, Chuck Schuldiner, Jimi Hendrix and a bunch more..
WC:  Is there any place Belphegor hasn’t played yet that you would really like to?

H: Australia is missing. New territories means a new challenge, we are ready and loaded, BELPHEGOR in a live situation is like a tank firing on full capacity. It’s always a pleasure to march into new territories. Interested promoters worldwide can contact:
WC: Final words for the maniacs out there?

H: Thank you to the people who listen to our records, buy merch at the shows, and all who attend BELPHEGOR live rituals. Invade your local record stores and pick up "CONJURING THE DEAD"!