Forming in 1992, Belphegor have been seen as an icon, as one of the most fearless projects within the black and death metal scene. After the grandiose Pestapokalypse VI in 2006, and the well-received Blood Magick Necromance, in 2011, the band returns once again at the top of their game with Conjuring The Dead (Nuclear Blast) Are you able to say Belphegor is at their best? Every band always says their latest album is the best they’ve ever done. In the following interview with co-evil overlord Helmuth, he goes to great length to discuss the shifting tastes and style of the band, how important experimentation is to him in writing, shred guitar, Classical music influences, utilizing guest stars on the album, and other topics of interest.
It seems death metal is more present than black metal nowadays. Is this the path Belphegor will continue to take?
Belphegor has always been a Death Metal band. Those familiar with our discography should be able to see that it is not a new path for us.Yes. This album is more Death Metal focused than the past few releases
This was not due to a trend. It was inspired by my actual dance with death and our need to raise the bar and experiment further with each album. The process to create this lasted ages. A lot of sweat, blood, and energy flow into Conjuring The Dead. I never worked so hard on another release. I always had in the back of my mind,and feared after my life threatening health issues, it could be the last Belphegor album. So I didn’t want to fukk around, I wanted do things absolutely right.
The press sometimes describes us as a Black Metal band, maybe because of our brutal stage rituals. I never understood the misconception as the Death elements clearly lead. If you turn the volume all the way up, it’s as if the band is in the same room with you. I guess people that want to hear extreme Musick will dig it and understand the Death Metal approach. Don’t want to end up as an epic or melodic band. It just was time to return to our roots and celebrate and glorify Death musick.
Belphegor’s lyrics are mostly embodied by obscene and sacrilegious themes against Christianity, but the single ‘Gasmak Terror’ leads into a nuclear holocaust. Is there any particular reason to write something like that in 2014?
No wonder why when we can see the world being destroyed right before our eyes more than ever. The blasting ‘Gasmask Terror’ doesn’t reflect all of the content or entire concept of the full album. I just 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, that’s why we decided for ‘Gasmask Terror’ as first single. It has everything we stand for. The 2nd single will be the monstrous ‘Conjuring The Dead’, a double bass assault. Totally different than ‘Gasmask Terror’.
I dare say Belphegor’s riffs are the nearest to the powerful classical music, like that which was written by giants like Tchaikovsky – for instance. I recall the track ‘Chants for the Devil 1533’ from 2006 or ‘Rex Tremendae Majestatis’ off of the new album. When listening to songs like these I hear an entire orchestra in my mind.
Great man. Thank you for your appreciation, an honor.
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 on his deathbed. He knew he would die soon. It 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, 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 exalted, majestic track is exactly what I felt as I started creating ‘Rex Tremendae Majestatis’ and when I listen to ‘Requiem’.
We approached the music more maturely than ever before. All was very serious this time because of my health issues. You also hear a lot of tri-tones, dis-harmonic tones that were forbidden in middle ages by the church- they really feared those tones. Back then, these sounds were called the “Diabolus In Musica”.
The most known song, in my opinion, that is based on the tri-tones is the riff ( 3 tones/ including the octave) of the song by the name of its band, ‘Black Sabbath’.
‘The Eyes’ is an instrumental song with a very melodic guitar riff delivered by shredding. What’s the message you want to give by including such song in the album? What are The Eyes?
‘The Eyes’ is an intermezzo,classical guitar picking and a lead guitar.It calms everything down after the first five brutal sound collages. After ‘The Eyes’, starts the most complex and technical song on this LP, ‘Legions Of Destruction’. Brutal!!
Besides that track and the epic finale in ‘Gasmask Terror’, do you feel Conjuring The Dead is Belpeghor’s most extreme and less melodic album so far?
Yes, exactly. That was the master plan as I started this new project back in December 2011.
For the first time, you’ve decided to invite two heavyweight musicians: Deicide’s Glen Benton and Mayhem’s Attila Csihar. Do you feel those additions help the album to be more popular than you imagined?
I had this vision for a long time, wasn’t a marketing thing. It was just to please my ego, hahahrrr. Truly, it’s really cool to me. I respect what their work brought to the extreme Metal community.
I wanted to have those two guys, not just any dudes from some other bands. My plan was either them or fukk the plan. Thing is, Glen is my favorite Death Metal vocalist and Attila my favorite Avant-garde/Black Metal singer. I think I first asked Attila about it in 2007, as we recorded ‘Bondage Goat Zombie’. With Deicide we did two big tours, one in the US one we conquered and devastated Europe. And Glen liked the idea, which was awesome. There was always this schedule problem, they were on tour, or we were on tour, it was difficult, but finally it worked out. Both bands in the beginning were very important and inspiring to Belphegor.
This is an honor to me to have these two guys putting their magick on the track. The listeners can decide what impression it makes upon the entire album.