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Belphegor – The Devils Award winner

The Devils
by Savely Nevzorov at 27 September 2022, 8:09 PM

There’s no need to spend time describing who BELPHEGOR are, where they come from, and what they do. This band has been around for a long time and managed to put out a fine number of great Black/Death Metal records. I first stumbled upon this band back in middle school, about the time when their album “Pestapokalypse VI” came out. While it was generally very likable to listen I didn't become a fan of Belphegor back then. The reason for that was that found their music was too similar to another band I was very into at that point – BEHEMOTH. It was back in the days when the Polish trio was going through their Death Metal phase, producing this blend of Death and Black Metal, accompanied with a little flavor of paganism and oriental aesthetics that I found particularly similar between these two bands, and while I enjoyed them both, BEHEMOTH looked more aesthetically appealing to me personally. Many of us know where BEHEMOTH went further though, striving towards a simplier Black-like sound and more theatrical appearance. Despite that, I love Black Metal, their last couple of records didn't land well for me, which is also true for their latest album “Opvs Contra Natvram” which came out recently. It's quite ironic though, that it is the new BELPHEGOR’s record “The Devils” that came in right on time to save me from yet another "everything used to be better when we were young" rant. It still carries many elements that defined their music in the past but goes far enough with approaches that are somewhat non-traditional for this band.

I started this review with a comparison to BEHEMOTH’s Death Metal phase for a reason. In many ways, I think, BELPHEGOR now sound how their polish counterparts would if they preferred to further develop their brand of Blackened Brutal Death Metal they manifested on such records as “Apostasy”, “Demigod”, etc. This fast and heavy Death with BEHEMOTH/NILE-style pseudo-Egyptian harmonies, fat sound, and Black-metal elements, peculiar to those albums, is pretty evident on “The Devils”. However, BELPHEGOR goes further than that. First of all, the balance of power between Death and Black achieved on this album seems superior compared not only to the above-listed records but to pretty much any other BELPHEGOR record. Secondly, the songwriting on this album demonstrates an amazing versatility, allowing the listener to experience, perhaps, the entire range of possible emotions. The title track sounds like it came directly from “Zos Kia Kultus” times, while the song “Glorifizeirung des Teufels” introduces us to that very style of Black Metal that is slow enough to be called Doom at some point. There are also enough Black Metal tracks where Death Metal steps back a little in favor of a slightly more distinct minor-key sound. “The Devils” offers a handful of atmospheric moments, interesting interludes, and remarkable arrangement decisions. It's all wrapped up in a superb, uncompromising sound that seems to be capable of rocking mountains if the volume is high enough. It will make your face change from melting to vicious evil grinning so many times, that you might even feel a little muscle pain after the album is over.

It's hard to talk long about good things. Not only BELPHEGOR remain remarkably consistent in what they do but also manage to gradually develop their sound, still managing to surprise even someone like me, who remembers this band since their youngest days. A great record from a great band that I recommend you check out if you haven't done that yet. This especially attributes to the mid-phase BEHEMOTH fans, like myself, because this record is promising you a fresh and original experience that will nevertheless tingle some of that nostalgia of yours. An absolute must-have for all Blackened Death Metal fans.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 7
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. The Devils
2. Totentanz - Dance Macabre
3. Glorifizierung des Teufels
4. Damnation - Höllensturz
5. Virtus Asinaria - Prayer
6. Kingdom of Cold Flesh
7. Ritus Incendium Diabolus
8. Creature of Fire
9. Blackest Sabbath 1997
Helmuth – Vocals
Serpenth – Bass, Backing Vocals
Molokh - Guitars
Record Label: Nuclear Blast


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