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Belphegor
Belphegor‘s latest release Conjuring the Dead has become one of the group’s most talked about efforts yet. So much so that vocalist/guitarist Helmuth was willing to sit down and answer an e-mail interview for this very site! Honored, I leapt at the opportunity to ask some questions about the release, touring, and more. Check out what he had to say below.

The first thing I noticed about Conjuring the Dead is that it sounds grounded more in traditional Black Metal and Death Metal, departing from the technicality and insanity of your more recent efforts. Why did the band go this route this time around?

Helmuth:
We’ve marched under the banner of Death/ Black Metal since the beginning. We always did our own thing. That’s why we’ve survived this long and still release and create brutal Musick. On each Lp we’ve experimented, added new elements/structures.
I wanted to have a more Death Metal approach on this Lp, more edgy, raw and of course brutal, all the typical BELPHEGOR trademarks. It was time to return to our roots…

Was the writing process for Conjuring the Dead any different compared to past albums like Bondage Goat Zombie or Blood Magick Necromance?

Helmuth:
I never worked so hard on another release. I always had in the back of my mind, and feared after my life-threatening illness, it could be the last BELPHEGOR album. So I didn’t want to fukk around, I wanted do things absolutely right. We had to delay it a few times as I was recovering from the difficult surgery which saved my life. It was kinda frustrating to get knocked out for almost 10 months. I had always been very active and for this first time my body had shown me limits. With Erik Rutan at the helm of production and contributing great ideas, pushing us to be better than ever before, we are victorious! CONJURING THE DEAD was a tough raid, can’t wait til it gets released and I have my physical Album in my hands. That’s always a very special moment to me, then I get to see all the hard work, the sweat the sacrifice, that it all was worth it.

I remember reading that Conjuring the Dead has a theme or concept to it. If so, what is it?

Helmuth:
It was heavily inspired by my own actual dance with death, as well as the downfall of all humanity. My health issues and recovery affected everything regarding the new album, the writing process, the band, my life. That’s why the songs on CONJURING THE DEAD sound way more brutal, edgy and raw, we put a lot of the epic elements away, concentrated on the sick Death brutality with obscure melodies. Straight in your face. On the new record we celebrate Diabolical Death Metal.

Belphegor worked on Conjuring the Dead in the studio with Erik Rutan. How did this come about, and have you worked with him before on any past albums?
We have not worked with him before.

Helmuth:
As I started creating the new sound collages I had a goal. A brutal, extreme Death Metal album with the typical BELPHEGOR elements. I wanted to put some of the more epic elements aside and concentrate on dynamics and intensity, more to the point- direct and aggressive. That’s why we decided for Erik Rutan as producer and recorded in Florida. I always wanted to have that US brutal sound for a BELPHEGOR Lp, but I never thought it would happen. We did it and tracked one of our strongest releases so far.

What was it like working with Erik? Did he get involved with the music for Conjuring the Dead, or did he just let you guys do your thing?

Helmuth:
The collaboration was just awesome, way better than I ever expected. He brought some ideas here and there, and motivated us to track ultra tight performances. My guitars never sounded that precise on a BELPHEGOR album. If you turn the volume all the way up, it’s as if the band is in the same room with you and blasting the shit outta hell.

The song “Legions of Destruction” have additional vocals by Deicide’s Glen Benton and Mayhem’s Atilla. Why did you decide to have guest vocalists involved, and how did you manage to get these two in particular?

Helmuth:
This idea was stuck in my head for a long time. It was just to please my ego, hahahrrr. Truly, it’s really an honor to me. I appreciate their vocal styles and 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. I think I first asked Attila from MAYHEM 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 great to me. Finally it worked out. Both bands in the beginning were very important and inspiring to BELPHEGOR. Once again, It’s an honor that they put their magick on this track. I guess it was Metal Rules that was talking about the “Three Tenors From Hell”, since I’m also doing vox on this track. What a grand remark!

“Gasmask Terror” was the first single off Conjuring the Dead. Do you feel that is the best representation of the album, and do you think releasing a lyric video instead of a music video helped or hurt the hype of the album?

Helmuth:
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. This track has everything we stand for. The 2nd single we just released with the music video is CONJURING THE DEAD, a double bass assault. Totally different than GASMASK. This is our most matured album so far, everything was very serious as we created it.

The feedback from the press that I’ve seen so far is impressive. Always great to see they are pleased.

I also change vokills here and there, that brutal tracks called for more death-growl style vocals, which has surprised some of our audience.
What anyone else thinks won’t affect me that much, really. I just do my own thing, walk my own path and decide for myself with my own rules, in my own world. Some people like it and support us, which I really appreciate..a huge honor to me. Some hate it or are offended, all fine by me.

Speaking of videos, I saw that a music video for the title track will be coming out shortly. How did the shoot go? Was it difficult, more than one location, etc?

Helmuth:
Director Walter Fanninger filmed it in three different locations in three days. It was cold and continuously raining high up the mountains in Austria. We had an experienced crew this time and good gear. The video represents everything BELPHEGOR is about. Extreme – obscene – primitive!!

I see the pre-order bundles have been announced as well. Were any other out of the ordinary ideas or incentives like the Slimepack you guys or Nuclear Blast had for the album that didn’t happen or felt would perfectly compliment the release?

Helmuth:
The Digipak and slime pack come with a sort of 20 year anniversary bonus-Dvd. It has a running time over 70 minutes. I think it compliments the album release, yeah. I’d say for die-hard BELPHEGOR soldiers, it’s a must have. You get to see studio recording making of’s, Metal traveling, our rehearsal cave bunker with Mr. Swinefever, six live tracks and also the new CONJURING THE DEAD music video with a known tattoo model from Germany, Makani Terror, who plays the lead role.

Belphegor took to social media asking where fans would love to see the band play Conjuring the Dead. Will this be a string of shows based on the response you received, or is this question limited to just one show?

Helmuth:
We tour all the time, in 2014 we do approximately 60 shows, man. We premiered GASMASK TERROR two week ago, and it sounded great in a live situation. Next week we also add the titeltrack to our live set. We play next 5 weeks about 9 huge open airs in Europe before we heading over to North America and do our first headlining tour over there mid-Sept – mid-Oct! The exact dates will be announced next week. After that we shred Loudpark in Japan, maybe add 2 shows in China, well see and bomb South America in December.

Live, we are one of most extreme bands and destroy all. It’s more like a ritual than an average Metal concert. Live rituals are the essence, the “magick” of BELPHEGOR. We always look forward to storming new fronts.

So what’s next for Belphegor at this point?

Helmuth:
Promoting the new album live on stage, worldwide. We march on and on…can’t wait to fire the new tracks into the crowd with uttermost brutality. BELPHEGOR is still like a world war tank, rolling in worldwide without compromise!!

Is there anything else you want to mention?

Helmuth:
I also want to say 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!

Thank you very much for your time. As a fan, I greatly appreciate it. Take care!

Helmuth:
Pleasure was all mine, man. Thank you for the space. Take care as well..

An honor – this horror…

Belphegor: Conjuring the Dead
Belphegor
Interview conducted thanks to Nuclear Blast Records.