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Satan - 90%

masscows, February 17th, 2008

Hailing from the far reaches of Austria, the rising extreme metal powerhouse Belphegor shows few signs of slowing down with this release…literally. I’m just going to get out of the way right now that these guys play fast. Really fast. To get the point across, let me just say that they’ve lost a few drummers due to repetitive strain injuries. That’s not to say their sound isn’t balanced, because they’ve switched it up to a greater degree on this release; there is melody abundant, occasional mid-paced grooves, and even two tracks that don’t feature blastbeats at all! The band’s foundations and roots are most certainly not forgotten however; they’ve only improved and added upon their sound with this release.

Pestapokalypse VI can really be summarized with one word: Satan. I mean, Satan is quoted on this album in four languages (Austrian, Latin, English and German) and if that doesn’t convince that these guys are very serious about what they do then I don’t know what will. The lyrics are more in the black metal vein, speaking about the apocalypse, the demon Belphegor, various sexual references, and you guessed it: Satan. This is some pretty blasphemous stuff, truth be told. The vocals are complete unadulterated evil and insanity, frequently switching between low and mid growls to shrieks, and making quite extensive and effective use of layering. Sometimes effects are used on the vocals to make them echo, like in the semi-spoken semi-sung chorus to “Bluhtsturm Erotika” and on the growls in the chorus of “Belphegor-Hell’s Ambassador”, making them sound utterly evil. While the effects may not be necessary, since the vocals capture the essence of evil on their own, they certainly add to the madness.

The guitar work on Pestapokalypse VI is executed extremely well, to say the least. The band’s guitarists, Helmuth and Sigurd work very well as a pair. The riffs are always layered and the band makes use of counterpoint rhythms and harmonies quite extensively. The variety in the guitar work is also a major selling point, ranging from crushing mid-paced grooves to black metal esque-tremolo sections all perfectly balanced out by extensive incorporation of melody and shred solos. Each song features a different approach to melody and harmony, with some using dissonant intervals between the two guitars and others using consonant and/or tri-tone harmonies, both sounding equally evil. The technicality is less than mind-blowing, but that isn’t really the point. The guitars harmonize together so well that they don’t need to try to impress you with how “tech” they are. That’s not to say it’s simple, but they definitely aren’t trying to match Necrophagist in this area.

The drumming is also top-notch. Where their previous releases suffered from being too blastbeat-oriented, this album shows that their new drummer is willing to switch things up quite a bit more than before. While many tracks are still quite blastbeat-driven, there are several sections with slower beats, varied double-bass patterns and creative fills. Hell, even the blastbeats show signs of creativity with an abundance of creative cymbal usage. The drums work very well as a backdrop for the other instruments, but most certainly shine on their own.

Each song has quite a few unique, defining characteristics of its own as well. The blastbeat-less songs mentioned above, “Angel of Retribution” and “Bluhtsturm Erotika” both show that the band is more than willing to switch it up completely with mid-paced, doom-laden tracks. The other songs’ switches between blasting and mid-paced sections never echo one another and never seem contrived. Also, the catchy melodies really serve as the icing on the cake as far as far as setting the songs apart goes. When you hear the intro riff to “Sanctus Perversum”, you’ll know exactly what I mean.

All in all, Belphegor proves with Pestapokalypse VI that they’re not to be taken lightly. This assault of an album brings the brutality and the blackened blasphemy in equal doses and never lets up for a second; even the intros/outros are unsettling. If you’re looking for top-notch blackened death metal that’s as evil as it is intelligent, I would most definitely recommend you get Pestapokalypse VI as soon as possible.

Dort wo der Tanz ist, ist der Teufel nicht weit...

Originally written by me for http://www.sputnikmusic.com