Belphegor: Blood Magick Necromance

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Belphegor: Blood Magick Necromance
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Belphegor: Blood Magick Necromance
Black Metal, Death Metal
Nuclear Blast Records
February 8th, 2011
Release length: 40:42
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Belphegor is easily one of the most infamous names in Metal today, though they haven’t really physically done anything to earn that extra hint of infamy. Most of that stems from some of the titles the band has used, the lyrical content, and general over-the-top Black/Death Metal sound they brought with them. For the most part, the band has been considered one of the more important acts in the Black and Death worlds, but as of late, their material seemed to be slipping by with their fans, the past two albums had earner plenty of mixed reviews, but generally having some praise behind them for the group for retaining the band’s intensity. However, that intensity is pretty much dropped for their ninth full-length effort, Blood Magick Necromance, and while it’s still a solid effort, it just doesn’t seem like the Belphegor we’ve come to expect.

With Behemoth basically plowing the way for Black/Death Metal acts, destroying all that happens in their way, at the same time it appears that many in the style are changing their sound up to emulate them. Of course, those in the know will realize that such a thing has happened once before in the Deathcore scene, and still does today, with many bands trying to copy everything Job for a Cowboy does. Sadly, it’s showing up here, as Belphegor really slow things down, and clearly take ques for this new effort from other traditional bands of the genre, still retaining a hint of their own original sound, but clearly coming off with a strong Behemoth inspiration. This doesn’t make the album bad, as it’s still a strong release, but we’ve heard this a million times over already, and the material on here simply doesn’t bring anything new to the table.

The music on Blood Magick Necromance is, however, still solid Black/Death Metal. There’s no denying that. Belphegor does manage to include some aspects of what makes them such a fantastic band, but again, it’s only some. The blast beats are still there, and when the band really amps the intensity it’s fantastic. “Angeli Mortis de Profundis” is a great change of pace for the album, as is “Sado Messiah”, both of which speed away with pure intensity and some great blistering drumming to accompany the somewhat simple but addictive faster paced Black Metal guitars that give the song a very brutalizing atmosphere. These tracks are how this album should have sounded. “Possessed Burning Eyes 1997” also makes for a fantastic song, though it’s one of the slowest tracks on the release. The atmosphere is just right, and the music suits the varying gutteral and rhaspier styles perfectly with guitars that drive some real emotion into the music, though at times you might be expecting Dani Filth of Cradle of Filth to belt out a few sections. Honestly, the only thing that feels missing is some clean singing, preferably female. The faster double bass kicks are here too, and often bridge the slower, more atmosphere sections together after a slow build up as the song progresses. The band does manage to blend the slower paced material with their signature blast beat approach on a few songs, such as “In Blood – Devour This Sanctity”, “Rise to Fall and Fall to Rise”, and “Possess Burning Eyes 1997”, which sounds nice, but often doesn’t compensate for the more generic Black/Death material present.

On a positive note about this release, it does offer some variety. Previous Belphegor releases, especially as of late, would stick to composing only faster paced material, and some of the time that pace didn’t offer much in the line of varying sounds, often leaving many moments to sound similar on various tracks. The change to a slower, more restrained approach does manage to make the recording stand out a little more as it isn’t just blistering music over and over with little variety, but at the same time the music often feels dull due to the slower pace, so it’s a bit of a win/lose situation. More tracks like “Angeli Mortis de Profundis” are definitely needed, whereas a few slower songs wouldn’t hurt either, but preferably of something that hasn’t been heard a million times over, like the title track “Blood Magick Necromance” that sounds like any Black/Death Metal band of today, and “Impaled Upon the Tongue of Satan” which actually feels more like a song inspired by Cradle of Filth and varies between some catchy riffs and just simple, bland music, leaving this to be a very forgetable song once the intrigue of the atmosphere and certain bridges passes.

While it’s great to see Belphegor branch out musically compared to their past few offerings where it’s been non stop speed and blast beats that offered little variance sometimes, this album overdoes it. The inspirations from Behemoth and other bands like them, as well as some atmosphere rich sections that come off more Cradle of Filth really take away from what one would expect from this band. Had Belphegor managed to blend these newer musical directions with faster material, which they manage nicely at times in the first two songs, as well as the closing track, and that’s it, but that’s only by including blast beat sections as bridges and nothing more. Much of the album comes off well done, but bland and nothing we haven’t before. It’s worth checking out, but not something to rush out and buy immediately.

01. In Blood – Devour This Sanctity – 5:31
02. Rise to Fall and Fall to Rise – 6:01
03. Blood Magick Necromance – 7:00
04. Discipline Through Punishment – 4:05
05. Angeli Mortis de Profundis – 3:00
06. Impaled Upon the Tongue of Sathan – 5:42
07. Possessed Burning Eyes – 5:33
08. Sado Messiah – 3:50
Overall Score: 7/10

Physical review copy of this release provided by personal funds.