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Belphegor - "Walpurgis Rites - Hexenwahn" (CD)

Belphegor - "Walpurgis Rites - Hexenwahn" CD cover image

"Walpurgis Rites - Hexenwahn" track listing:

1. Walpurgis Rites (3:09)
2. Veneratio Diaboli - I Am Sin (7:02)
3. Hail The New Flesh (5:33)
4. Reichswehr In Blood (4:37)
5. The Crosses Made Of Bone (4:26)
6. Der Geistertreiber (3:42)
7. Destroyer Hekate (3:37)
8. Enthralled Toxic Sabbath (4:33)
9. Hexenwahn - Totenkult (2:44)

Reviewed by on October 8, 2009

"Each song on 'Walpurgis Rites – Hexenwahn' generally sticks to the standard frontal assault mode, but it’s surprising how many melodic aspects get worked into the tracks."

The Austrian demons in Belphegor are at it again with “Walpurgis Rites – Hexenwahn,” another blackened death metal release so depraved it would no doubt make Lucifer himself blush. The album maintains all the hallmarks of Belphegor’s trademark blasphemy and heavy emphasis on eroticism, but also works a few extra magic tricks to prevent the formula from getting completely stale.

Depending on any given metal fan’s proclivities, the opening title track may be the best or worst song on the album. The blast beat onslaught picks up immediately and continues for nearly the entire song’s duration. The random tortured screams and layered throaty growls laced throughout the track are staples of the genre, and the lyrics stick pretty closely to everything Belphegor has ever done in the past. “Walpurgis Rites” is a frantic and forceful three minute stretch of Satanic metal mayhem, but the clichéd nature of the song may be a turn off for the fans who want the band to show a little more evolution.

The album begins to show signs of individuality with the second track, “Veneratio Diaboli - I Am Sin,” which has a much more unique and engaging guitar tone. As a departure from earlier work, the song has a strong underlying melody that meshes well with the extreme vocals and evil themes. The track makes liberal use of alternating slower guitar segments for strong contrast, and the throat shredding growl that echoes out of nowhere at the end is executed perfectly.

“Hail The New Flesh” takes the exceedingly over used rapid-fire blast beat stunt and works it into an entirely new beast worth hearing. The aggressive drum rolls meld into the structure of the song, working alongside the guitars instead of trying to outpace them. The track’s opening segment drops the vocals altogether to go into a pummeling guitar and drum assault with enough catchiness to make the end result imminently memorable despite its brutality. Any fan of Belphegor should already be well aware that the band takes pride in pushing the envelope, but a special note should be taken about the lyrical themes on the track. Some metal heads may take offense to the sounds of a woman screaming out in pain while vocalist Helmuth growls out lines like “Die you whore!” and “You fucking slut!” Most black metal fans will take it in stride and realize it’s all in good fun, but those who won’t have officially been warned.

“Der Geistertreiber” is another departure from the norm, as it features the bass as the main instrument. Helmuth’s vocals on the song are less deep, but also more guttural and throaty. The vocal work combined with the industrial sounds in the background give off an odd Rammstein vibe, if Rammstein were more heavily influenced by death metal.

One of the highlights of the album is “Enthralled Toxic Sabbath,” as it strikes on the right balance between atmosphere, harsh vocals, and relentless drumming. The guitars on the track are more subdued, but they are played in such a way that they still emanate the sense of foreboding and evil found on the other songs. Whispering female vocals are dropped in at various points, giving an old school touch.

Each song on “Walpurgis Rites – Hexenwahn” generally sticks to the standard frontal assault mode, but it’s surprising how many melodic aspects get worked into the tracks. Belphegor isn’t going to get slapped with a tag like “progressive” or “symphonic” anytime soon, but there is definitely an extra dimension added to the music that makes the album worth listening to more than once.

Highs: Solid blackened death metal guitar and drum work, some interesting melody interspersed in the songs.

Lows: Some of the sounds have been done to death.

Bottom line: A solid blackened death metal album with a few experimental forays, but overall it sticks to tried and true territory that Belphegor fans have heard before.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)