Review – Belphegor: Totenritual

By -
  • Bio: n/a
  • Label: Nuclear Blast Records
  • Release Date: September 15th, 2017
  • Genre: Black Metal, Death Metal
  • Website: Visit Website
  • Rating (out of 10):

One of Austria’s most recognizable metal exports, Belphegor have returned to unleash their specific brand of hell with Totenritual. As it stands, Nuclear Blast Record has issued a few lyric videos for this release, all of which seem to showcase a slightly different, more calculated rendition of the act. With hints at leaving behind the madness of their most recent efforts in favor of a traditional black/death metal recording. But are these glimpses evidence of another shift in creativity, or will it be business as we have become accustomed to as of late?

Thankfully those two singles released don’t fully represent Totenritual as a whole. “The Devil’s Son” immediately brings that spark back to the mix, blurring the lines of ominous melody and dominating death metal with the greatest of ease. The main verses feature a fair amount of complexity above the ever furious drumming, which is the one aspect that stands out here. “Swinefever – Regent of Pigs” also rekindles that fire a bit, but for the most part stays a steady marching death metal piece with some dual vocal ranges going on and eerie bridges that suit the commanding atmosphere.

Meanwhile there’s “Spell of Reflection”, a truly hard-hitting experience that blends both a good deal of atmosphere with hints of Mortician-grade death metal chugging from time to time. The only thing really missing is the largely inflated tone of the bass guitar when the hooks aren’t slowly and subtly sinking into your skin to give you a bit of hope before pulling you right back to the shaky, shallow ground once more with a restrained Dimmu Borgir or Behemoth sound. “Totenkult – Exegesis of Deterioration” has its bouts of fury, but for the most part it ends up as bland and generic sounding as “Apophis – Black Dragon” with traces of a doom metal foundation to the song’s death metal structure. The only aspect that manages to stick out is around four minutes in when it incorporates a brief amount of melody to add more mood than the rest of the piece contains, which feels like a brief pre-cursor for the cold and depressing instrumental piece “Totenbeschworer”.

MyriadThere is no denying that Totenritual is a far more refined experience from the Austrian black/death metal outfit as of late, concentrating on recapturing the past glory of Lucifer Incestus. The problem is that it just doesn’t sound much like a strong Belphegor release for the sake of a concept, era be damned. If you expect anything like Blutsabbath or even Bondage Goat Zombie, you are going to be let down. No, this new offering isn’t bad, but aside a few particular tracks the only thing going for this recording are the atmospheres that often hit the way they are intended to in order to manipulate the listener enough to feel what the band intended. But, really, it just sounds like a traditional offering you could easily find in both the widely accepted and underground worlds of the style, particularly those originating from Greece, to the point it actually becomes boring.

MyriadDigital review copy of this release provided by Nuclear Blast Records.