Belphegor - Totenritual
Written By: Dustin Koetsch
Belphegor have officially transcended the titular “Black Metal” label they adhered to so genuinely throughout out a massive chunk of their discography.
With the release of “Totenritual” the band has now released two albums delving deep into the Blackened Death Metal genre, if not outright becoming “Death Metal” and abandoning black metal all together if it weren’t for such minuscule hints of black metal sparsely integrated throughout the minutiae of this record. Now, a lot of you might disagree with me on this opinion and that’s okay, the way this record sounds to me isn’t the end all be all, but I do think with their recent output its hard to argue Belphegor is still a black metal band.
Right off the bat you know you’ve entered into a bleak world of dread and despair, as sharp dissonant harmonic chords pierce in coherence with the blasting drums. Each track ranges in its veracity, the vocals and blasting drums are easily the only constant on this album.
“Totenritual” is a relentless beast of riffs, blasts and growls. The tracks range from viciously bludgeoning to ravenously fast and chaotic. There isn’t any give on this record, not for a single second.
There is only one song I feel is too repetitive, it’s the 1st single the band released “Apophis - Black Dragon” the track is the longest on the record, and while it is as unrelenting as everything else your ears are bludgeoned with, it feels a bit stagnant once you hear the same verse chorus verse repeat itself at least 6 times. Its easily the weakest track.
The lyrics are filled with enough anti-religion rhetoric to make the pope auto-fellate himself. And that's not an insult in the slightest, I feel that the way things are written gives this album its underlying mood and speaks to all the evils in the world by criticizing one thing. Religion.
The biggest thing I should speak on with this record is the vocals, this has been the most drastic stylistic change ever since the big health scare that Helmuth suffered back in 2011. His voice sounds much more raspy with the highs but his lows are much more evolved than before and its a style I wish he would adopt with full force. The biggest tell with this change is if you listen to the 2 live tracks on this record, his high vocals sound completely blown out and there's not enough projection emitting from them anymore. That being said, they way the vocals are recorded on these past two albums you can’t even tell.
“Totenritual” brings Belphegor to new places and with such a satisfying pay off. I do still prefer their previous effort over this new album, but its a solid release in this bands extensive catalog and definitely worth spending your time on.
"Totenritual" gets 7/10