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Belphegor - "Conjuring The Dead" (CD)

Belphegor - "Conjuring The Dead" CD cover image

"Conjuring The Dead" track listing:

1. Gasmask Terror
2. Conjuring The Dead
3. In Death
4. Rex Tremendae Majestatis
5. Black Winged Torment
6. The Eyes
7. Legions Of Destruction
8. Flesh, Bones And Blood
9. Lucifer, Take Her!
10. Pactum In Aeternum

Reviewed by on July 15, 2014

"[The album] really is an 'aural assault' on the listener. Combined with the disc's diversity and willingness to swing back and forth between atmospheric and face-smashing, this may be one of the best offerings from Austria's masters of the diabolic."

It would appear you can in fact teach an old demon new tricks, as the Luciferian hell-bound commandos in Belphegor have significantly expanded their repertoire and created something quite a bit different than recent albums like “Blood Magick Necromance” or “Hexenwahn.” Breaking out of the band's standard mode of a rapid-fire succession of albums, “Conjuring The Dead” was delayed for an entire year, building up expectation as front man Helmuth stoked the fires of Satanic lust in the fan base. Now it's finally time for fans to answer the question - was it worth the wait?

With opening track “Gasmask Terror” it almost seemed like the answer would be a “not really.” Although a furious blackened death metal track in its own right, “Gasmask Terror” is essentially same old, same old. The song has everything you already heard in the last nine albums, from repetitive blast beats to yawn-inducing screams of “fuck you all!” Don't stop listening here though, because Belphegor's about to switch gears significantly and change up the game.

Title track “Conjuring The Dead” switches the tempo, lumbering more slowly but battering much more harshly with a song that has loads more heart (likely removed still-beating from an unwilling sacrifice) than its predecessor, and the sudden shift into highly atmospheric territory at the end is worth the wait. “In Death” then injects a huge dose of thrash, creating more of a thrash/death sound than the band's standard black/death and will be welcome indeed for fans of The Wretched End. “Rex Tremendae Majestatis” also changes up the sound significantly with darkly atmospheric acoustic plucking.

“Black Winged Torment” returns to form with an excellent combination of black and death metal – weaving the two styles into each other in just the right ways – and it offers up the scary stuff in a way that's less cheesy and sex-obsessed than in albums past. “Legions of Destruction” meanwhile has a serious Marduk feel going on with its drawn out, throaty vocals. Because it wouldn't be a Belphegor album without some form of violent sexual deviance, there's the ear-grating hoarse screeches throughout “Lucifer, Taker Her!” While clearly meant to be a witch crying out in pain, they actually bring to mind some of the ultra-harsh squeals from the grind or deathcore side of the metal spectrum.

The production quality and constant interjection of non-black metal elements really put the music of each track directly in your face (or perhaps ears) front and center. Lots of bands claim it, but “Conjuring The Dead” really is an “aural assault” on the listener. Combined with the album's diversity and willingness to swing back and forth between atmospheric and face-smashing, this may be one of the best offerings from Austria's masters of the diabolic.

Highs: The demonic duo expands their sound significantly this time around, while still retaining all the brutality.

Lows: The opening track is too familiar, and some of the cheesiness of the demonic voiceovers won't resonate with all listeners.

Bottom line: Belphegor finally switches gears and offers something different while still maintaining a crushing black/death combo.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 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)