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Below-average release from a black metal great - 53%

MrMetalpants, January 1st, 2018

I've been a Belphegor fan for awhile and love their live performances. Bondage Goat Zombie was my favorite modern Belphegor release in that it had the perfect amount of speed, technicality, flair, and brutality. Modern Belphegor peaked for me right there. The next couple albums take a step down from previous releases and Totenritual follows suit.

The band keeps their unique sound going on here, which I enjoy immensely, but the problem is the writing. There are pieces of each song that stand out but as whole, the vast majority of songs are bland. Like for example the song "Swinefever - Regent of Pigs" has some crushing rhythms (I was pleasantly surprised to get that from Belphegor) but I have not much desire to re-listen to it more. As of this writing I just completed the third listen-through of the album with a few repeats of the songs I like more and going into the fourth feels like a bit of a chore. They are hitting all the marks they set on previous releases with their extremely unique sound but with less challenging compositions. I think milder is another apt adjective. It's a solid release for their core fan base, but I don't think it will do much for the uninitiated.

There's a very strong performance out of the lead guitar complete with more than a few enjoyable solos. The effect used on it helps hone in their sound we've come to know and love. The drum work has taken a back seat and isn't as unique or as varied as other releases. It keeps time and is passably fast but just stays with the formula for the genre. I know more can be achieved with the drums. The high vocals sound the same as we've heard before, thankfully, because the low-end growls are changed up on this release. Not by an unforgivable amount, but enough to make the experience slightly different.

Overall, this is an average entry into Belphegors discography. It will please fans of the band. It makes me still hopeful for further releases from them.

Favorite tracks:
--Swine Fever - Regent of Pigs
--Apophis - Black Dragon
--Embracing a Star

Technical Skill: 72% Originality: 45% Song writing: 40% Production: 55%