Belphegor - Totenritual,
One of the most consistently extreme bands on the Death/Black scene crest their throne built of bones once again to uncompromisingly attack humanity, three years after their 2014 demonstration of brutality, ‘Conjuring The Dead’. One of the things I have always liked about Belphegor is that one always knows exactly what to expect, and when Helmuth Lehner states that he provides heretic grunts and chainsaw (he provides vocals and guitar in the trio, in case you didn’t know), then one knows that they haven’t gone soft in their old age. Some 24 years after their foundation, their inventive creativity still places them head and shoulders above many in the scene. Anyone looking for silence, beautiful melodies and a life-affirming aura will definitely suffer under this attack. But, somehow, they also maintain a melodic approach throughout, mixing many Black Metal influences with Death, but there is structure and finesse, and when studied it can be seen that there is far more to the arrangements than may originally meet the ear.
Even small interludes takes the listener to a safe place only for a short period, before the next brutal attack follows. The eleventh studio follows the sophisticated path of its precursors and will have their followers kneeling down in humility. The commander of death-sounds does not use a blunt corset of henchmen for his attacks on society's conventions, but demonstrates his skills as a high-class songwriter. From determined songs, embossed by an obsessed directness, to majestic ritualistic hymns - followers of darkest sermons will be led directly into the abyss. With the name Belphegor on the cover it was always likely that ‘Totenritual’ was going to be a good album, but it is way better than that.