Belphegor are a band who – in common with many of their black metal counterparts – have often gone out of their way to court controversy in order to build their profile, even going so far as to have their early albums banned in their native Austria (as well as in a few other less liberal countries – a move which the band subsequently exploited when the embargo was finally lifted by repackaging the offerings and reissuing then with the word ‘BANNED’ plastered needlessly across the cover art). The problem they have often had – and this comes from someone who actually is a fan – is that they have all too often been unable to back up that controversy with material which entices all but the most hardened listener (and reviewer) to explore below the surface of that tabloid-style sensationalism and examine their true worth…
‘Conjuring The Dead’ is a case in point, in that it struggles to decide whether it wants to be a pure black metal album or an old school death metal one – with the result that it falls, in places ignominiously, between the two sub-genres. There are some terrific moments – opener ‘Gasmask Terror’, for example hits with the ferocity of the Immortals attacking the Gates Of Fire, ‘Black Winged Torment’ evokes the darkest demons from the very depthsof Mordor and ‘Legions Of Destruction’ marches to victory with the imperiousness of Alexander – but there are just as many disappointing ones: the title track is derivative while ‘Flesh, Blood And Bones’ completely fails to live up to the intial promise of its pummeling opening bass beatdown.
As a long time Belphegor fan, I am disappointed by ‘Conjuring The Dead’, but also pleased by it as well, as, while it retains the basic values of the band, it also possesses some of the qualities which, if applied properly, should help them reach out to new audiences and expand their fanbase to the sort of level less deserving BM acts have managed to achieve: however, I’m sad to say that it does not possess enough of the latter qualities to do any more than cement their position in the middle section of the BM league – and, maybe, being ten albums into their career its just a epoch or so to late for them to capitalize upon the latent potential well always has bubbled below the surface.
The bonus version of the album comes with a DVD featuring the usual behind the scenes ‘Making Of…’ crap and a bunch of poorly recorded live recordings which are, quite frankly, not worth the effort of shelling out those extra couple of shekels…
Gasmask Terror / Conjuring The Dead / In Death / Rex Tremendae Majestatis / Black Winged Torment / The Eyes / Legions Of Destruction / Flesh, Bones And Blood / Lucifer, Take Her! / Pactum In Aeternum
Recommended listening: Black Winged Torment
‘Conjuring The Dead’ is out now on Nuclear Blast.
- £10.35 & FREE Delivery in the UK