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Holy Blasphemy, Batman, it's Belphegor again! And this is one of my favorite recent albums as of now, its ownage cannot be denied. Call it blackened death, brutal black, whatever you call it, it actually earns the overused sobriquet of "brutal". Belphegor have developed a very distinct take on this relatively new sound and made it their own already.
This album is marked with riveting intensity and excellent production courtesy of Andy Classen--you can even hear the bass as it anchors the guitars with thick and resonant tone. And the drums don't even sound overly triggered; you can hear the kick drums are triggered, but not as much as some bands (*coughcough*DeedsOfFlesh*coughcough*), and I like that. I shows me that whoever the drummer on this album was, he doesn't need to rely on those annoying things for his sound. And given the furious drum abuse on this album that says something.
Another thing I like about this album is that while there is certainly a terrific amount of blasting, it is mixed up with a lot of variety. They incorporate trad Slayer style thrash beats and slow, thunderous beats as well, and the blasts have more impact that way. Most of the time bands like this simply mindlessly blast away and it gets numbing after a while, but Belphegor avoid this and concentrate on arrangements and construction as well as brutality, and the result is positively face-smashing.
The riffs really stand out too, especially the riff that brings in the verse on "Hell's Ambassador" with its blurry, smeared feel. And I love the way they harmonize their single note rhythm parts with dissonant intervals to make them really stand out and sound more "evil". They demonstrate some imagination, and it works well. The vocals are as evil as it gets and even use some vocal effects now and again for additional flavor, but for the most part Helmuth sounds frightening enough on his own. Scathing high shrieks and ugly deep growls and gurgles that will make your hair stand on end are the order of the day here and he mixes it up well, sounding intense and possessed the moment he opens his mouth.
Standouts are "Hell's Ambassador" with a great chant along chorus, "Angel of Retribution" with its slow doom crawl, and I am partial to "Blutstuhrm Erotika" with its sinister mix of German and Latin language vocals. This whole album, though, is a monstrous and intimidating beast of war on Christianity! Belphegor are really on top of their game here, I'm happy to say, and they bring the mayhem, chaos, and berserk madness right to you with unflinching intent. Forget the so-called "tr00 kvlt" black metal nonsense the ultra-underground types try to pass off as "True Black Metal Art", this is the real thing. Belphegor shred and tear hard and don't stop until you are dead or until you've joined them in their war on the xian sheep.
"Skull-crushing" was a term we used back in the day to describe an album like this and it's a rare occasion when I get a chance to use that term these days. This album merits that term and then some. I highly recommend it!