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Belphegor may have gotten rather the wrong idea when it comes to getting popular. Instead of following Behemoth's route of balancing made-for-the-masses brutality and excellent self-marketing with ever-improving songwriting, Belphegor decided to interpret Cradle Of Filth's method of becoming a caricature of yourself. Everyone has their opinion of Cradle Of Filth, usually to an extreme degree one way or another, but one thing I will say is that, like it or not, self-parody works for Cradle. It was sort of in them all along - a demo called Total Fucking Darkness, for example, does not exactly say 'poe-faced.' Neither does Bondage Goat Zombie, mind you. But becoming Black Metal clowns is not going to work so sweetly for Belphegor. While Walpurgis Rites: Hexenwahn features a more typically arcane-sounding-but-basically-incomprehensible Black Metal-ish title, its format is much the same as its predecessor.
A big problem with this album is its recurring failure to make you give a toss about anything happening during its runtime. The title track is nondescript. The melody played during the chorus section might have made for some excitement on the listener's part, if not for the limpness of the mix and the ineffectual vocals. 'Reichswehr In Blood' could well be the same few seconds of audio on a loop for all the diversity the song exhibits. Not that I am without my powers of discerning dense music; whilst I can quite contentedly spend some time sifting through the massive walls of drone on Sunn O)))'s and Boris' Altar, for example, I really can't find anything on this song that I would... even be able to describe, in fact. So there it is. Indescribably bland.
It is very questionable where Belphegor are getting their influences from at this point, and where they are hoping to take their music in the future. While I am not the sort of person to shout 'metalcore!' and start masturbating over my own Heavy Metal trueness at the mere sound of a band integrating some modern influences into their sound, there is something decidedly fishy about the riffs used on 'The Crosses Made Of Bone', which reinforces the theory I'm developing that Belphegor don't really have a clue what they are doing any more.
The album isn't without a few shinier lumps in the waterpipe, however. 'Veneratio Diaboli - I Am Sin' is actually quite ball-bashing, and serves up some solid enough Melodic BM. The same might be said for 'Destroyer Hekate' later on. But then, there's a bunch of weird laughing and retching from Helmuth, and church bells, all over the last two tracks. Weird laughing and retching and church bells are all good things to consider if you want to make some run-of-the-mill Satan music, but like so many other things on this disc they are just so abysmally irritating you can't take any of it seriously.
Returning to the Cradle comparison, as transparent as that band's popular songs are, it is at least clear what audience they are aimed at - you can tell what will appeal to the fans who wear a lot of black make-up, and have purple bedspreads, as opposed to what will appeal to the big strapping lads who wear Peace Through Superior Firepower T-shirts but haven't realized the slogan is intended to be tongue-in-cheek. With 'Der Geistertreiber', I really can't imagine who is supposed to be enjoying this song. It just sort of plods along, sounding less like the super-catchy singles Nuclear Blast normally have their flock put out than some sort of ungodly college-band Rammstein tribute. On what level it is supposed to persuade people to buy the album, being in no way representative of it nor at all a good song, is beyond me.
Last thoughts. Well actually, I'm liking the album cover, despite its general garishness it's got some style - at least, compared to the frankly confusing image which those who picked up the previous album were confronted with. It's an OK Black Metal album cover. This is not, however, an OK Black Metal album. In the words of Marcellus Wallace, right now, Belphegor are pretty fucking far from OK.