Blood Magick Necromance
posted on 1/2011 By:
Instead of a protracted introduction I’ll just come out and say this new Belphegor album, Blood Magick Necromance, is, in colloquial terms, awesome. It rules. It kicks ass. I might even say it has potential to be an early contender for a top album of 2011, but that’s a long way off and such prognostications come without the benefit of hindsight. Frankly, I don’t even want to spend time describing what Belphegor sounds like because I’d rather yammer away about how much I like this album (this despite having historically considered Belphegor to be ‘ok’ but not great).
My biggest complaint about earlier Belphegor releases—speaking mostly in regards to Goatreich - Fleshcult and Petsapokalypse VI, both of which are very decent albums in their own right—was that four tracks in everything began to seep together in the way that much modern metal is wont to do: after maybe three solid tracks, songs no longer distinguish themselves from one another, and you can’t expect many surprises as the album progresses. And, well, Blood Magick Necromance is Belphegor making me eat my words.
Opening track “In Blood – Devour This Sanctity” starts with a nice thick groove and erupts seconds later into the blast beats and darkly melodic speed picking that has come to characterize a chunk of Belphegor’s riffing. This goes back and forth for a repetition or two, leading into a verse of layered vocals over chunky, Peter Tägtgren-produced guitars. The song continues to seamlessly shift rhythmic and melodic gears, and by the time five and a half minutes have passed, I’m aware of having listened to an excellently crafted first track. Belphegor has always had some degree of variation in their song structures, don’t get me wrong on that, but Blood Magick Necromance demonstrates the band's ability to carry variety through every song, and between them as well, and what I mean by this is that halfway through I don’t find myself bored with the album.
Second track “Rise to Fall and Fall to Rise” opens with symphonic overtones only to morph into chunky verse and chorus sections that have the melodic-emotive resonance of the best Amon Amarth riff, but maintain their blackened understructures. Even on a more ‘generic’ sounding track (and I hate to use the word ‘generic’ here) like “Possessed Burning Eyes 1997,” the listener is treated to nothing less than an expertly crafted black/death anthem. The Austrians have upped the ante in all regards, but what stands out most in my mind on Blood Magick Necromance is a sense of melody that offers an aesthetic contrast to the bleak, minor harmonies one traditionally associates with black metal. I noticed this throughout the album, but it’s particularly notable on “Rise to Fall and Fall to Rise,” mentioned above, and “Impaled Upon the Tongue of Sathan.” Even the weakest track, “Discipline Through Punishment,” which displays its moodiness more prevalently than I’d care to hear, is still completely listenable and contains a hot little solo around the three-minute mark. By the time I arrived at final track “Sado Messiah,” I was thinking that Belphegor has bequeathed upon the world a finely orchestrated album that I’ll be listening to for a good while.
If you’ll excuse a brief digression, Lost Soul’s most recent work Immerse In Infinity saw the band taking a similar approach to the death metal/black metal schism, but there was something overtly self-conscious on that record that kept me at a distance (maybe having to do in part with the pop-death oddity “…If the Dead Can Speak”). Belphegor, on the other hand, offers a deeply felt counterpoint to the likes of Lost Soul, Behemoth, or Necrophobic, each of whom work in that grey Euro-zone between death metal brutality and black metal ambiance. But ultimately there isn’t much else to say beyond this: Belphegor has crafted one hell of an album, one that warrants some sort of accolade, like a metal Grammy, but since that won’t happen the most I can do is salute them and convince you to check out Blood Magick Necromance.
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