“Conjuring The Dead”

By Dr. Abner Mality

Belphegor’s Helmuth is one of a trio of devilish metal frontmen who have had a close brush with death in the last couple of years, the other two being Behemoth’s Nergal and His Infernal Majesty, King Diamond. Like those other two gentlemen, he now has a closer perspective on mortality, but it hasn’t really changed the sound of Belphegor. This is yet another blast of sinister black/death mayhem reeking of decadence.

If anything, “Conjuring The Dead” seems even more intense than Belphegor usually is…like Helmuth is telling the Grim Reaper “Hell no, I’m not ready to go!” There’s nothing here that will surprise long time fans, but that is usually the case when you’re coming back from a prolonged layoff.  “Gasmask Terror” will allay any fears that Belphegor has become pensive and introspective after Helmuth’s illness. It combines freezing black metal with clinically precise death in tried and true Belphegor fashion. With this band it’s always hard to tell where black ends and death begins. There is definitely a lot more guttural vocals this time around and Helmuth is sounding particularly demonic.  Cuts like “In Death” and “Legions of Destruction” lean more towards utter brutality…but traces of classic black metal melody remain. “Flesh Bones and Blood” has more of a tortured Gothic sound to it and the album ending “Pactum In Aeturnum” even has acoustic guitar. But even these "lighter" moments have a disturbed feeling of darkness hovering over them.

Best track award goes to the titanic “Rex Tremendae Majestatis”, where huge, stomping riffs give way to shredding thrash with an Egyptian/Oriental feel almost akin to Nile. That pseudo-Oriental style has always been a Belphegor strong point and it surfaces in a couple of spots here.

You might make the claim that “Conjuring the Dead” doesn’t sound “fresh” but considering the obstacles this band has had to overcome in the last few years, it sounds pretty damn good to these ears. To my mind, Belphegor beats Behemoth hands down every time.