Totenritual by Belphegor

Release date: September 15, 2017
Label: Nuclear Blast Records

Belphegor provide another uncompromising slab of a record in Totenritual, making the most of black metal influences but built around a dense core of the hardest death metal.

The riffs on ‘Apophis – Black Dragon’ and ‘Spell of Reflection’ are great, the uncanny leaps and lurches reminding me a little of De Mysteriis… era Mayhem, but with that unforgiving death metal hard edge. The blast beats run and run like metallic centipedes scuttling endlessly around in some oppressive cave of shadowy extreme metal. 

The final track ‘Totenritual’ for example is a proper teethrattler, with fierce and repeated bursts of just pure dental drill heaviness, stepping up even from the previous track ‘Embracing a Star’, which used similar juddering drumming in a more sporadic needling way. ‘The Devil’s Son’ has a great blackened riff, shown especially when the drums drop out briefly before plunging back in, and then when the vocals are matched with the crushing chords before a guitar solo careens around like a mad wizard locked in a tower.

 

Most tracks open with some snippet of a sample, most often dialogue from horror movies, screeching about witches or Lucifer. The start of the middle track, fifth of nine, is more abstract though, just weird gremlin gargling and snarling, before the hammer falls and you’re struck with an instant wall of death metal. The riffing in the first part feels a bit like a shaky earthquake landscape with unpredictable jets of fire leaping up here and there… we soon move on to some demon Latin incantations, all the while accompanied with percussion you could dig up the road with. ‘Totenkult – Exegesis of Deterioration’ is a great track name, as this feels like both an observation of a crumbling world as well as the cause of its destruction.

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