BELPHEGOR – Hell awaits…
To coincide with the release of Belphegor’s tenth full-length studio album ‘Conjuring the Dead,’ Eternal Terror scribe Peter Loftus stirred up a bowl of virgin’s blood to scry out the most recent dark occurrances from mainman Helmuth.
What news from Belphegor?
A lot is going on at the moment. The new Lp, entitled CONJURING THE DEAD, was released one week ago! We cracked some charts here and there worldwide. It’s awesome but was not our goal with this album, we made it to please ourselves. So, you know for the companies it is good, though also a real honor to us. So thanks to all maniakks who already bought the new slasher and supported our legacy with it.
All is good, man. The band is busy up to February 2015. We’ll be promoting and performing songs off the new album for the next two years.
Tell us about "Conjuring the Dead". You must be delighted with the way it turned out…
Everything came out great, it sounds exactly as we wanted it to.
I can tell you I never worked so hard on another release. I always had in the back of my mind, and feared after my life-threatening illness, (Helmuth contracted the potentially lethal typhoid virus in Brazil in 2012) it could be the last BELPHEGOR album. So I didn’t want to fukk around, I wanted to do things absolutely right.
My health issues and following recovery affected everything regarding the new album, the writing process, the band, my life. There were many delays and setbacks as I had to submit to and adjust to my new limitations. CONJURING THE DEAD was a tough raid to create and track in Florida´s Mana Studios with Mr. Erik Rrutan at the helm as producer. I’m still blown by the direct and aggressive soundwall Erik forged us. I have to say, it was all worth it.
How does the song writing and recording process work in the band?
I am the main songwriter and composer of the riffs. Since I’m also doing vokills I know in which direction I want the songs to march. Then I record all of the ideas that I have and send them over to Serpenth. In the rehearsal room, when we start to work on the tracks with drums, our bassist Serpenth brings his ideas such as what he wants add or change. He especially cares about the drum patterns as well and songs slowly shaping up. As I started creating the new album I wanted to put a lot of the epic parts aside to concentrate on the aggression, the brutal musick. I wanted to let it be more like how the band sounds live. Sometimes we need only a few months for a highspeed track, entitled "BLACK WINGED TORMENT", sometimes we need years like with "REX TREMENDAE MAJESTATIS", or if we are not confident with a track, we drop it.
Did you have a specific aim musically and lyrically or just allow it to come together organically?
I wanted to have a more Death Metal approach on this Lp, that was my main vision, to return to our roots. More edgy, raw, of course with our improved musickal skills that we now have in 2014. The overall concept was planned, but as we write, we experiment, and the rest comes as natural evolution. Because of my health issues and related setbacks, I had to delay the record over and over again. That was frustrating and there was so much hate and aggression, I channelled everything into this Lp.
Where does the predilection for sex, death and bondage come from?
I absolutely dig those themes. I guess it was around 1996 as I had discovered Marquis De Sade, who became a big inspiration. I’m not Asexual…you can’t divide the devil and black romance man,…it’s a union, it’s like fire and water, no element can live without the other. I know some people see it differently, but not my problem if they don’t like sex. I have to admit that I stopped using those themes for the new album. CONJURING THE DEAD is blasphemic, offensive with an antigod – antilife spirit.
What other things inspire you?
I had the privilege to travel the world, look around with eyes open, had the honor to visit magick places. That all flows into BELPHEGOR lyrical content.
I was and still am impressed by the darker aspects of humanity. All that is different and non-conformist. I describe myself as atheist. I mean, there is a lot of obscurity and possession in BELPHEGOR, still is, always was. The thing with art in my opinion is, only the excessive people did something that counted and lasted. You can’t sing about hell if you’ve never been there. Look at the history of art, it doesn’t matter – painter, composer, author, actor, whatever,…the ones who were close to insanity, often in delirium, in kind of "their own twilight zone", were the best and still remain.
I use the philosophy about Sathan/ Lucifer – the Light-bearer in our lyrical content as a proud, exalted, majestic figure who resisted against all influences. A seducer, tempter. One to make his own decisions, walk his own path as a rebel, a mocker against the masses. Victorious!!
The new cover art is a good representation of the themes. This is a conceptual depiction of the world of terror we actually do live in. It’s about how I see the human race nowadays, how we destroy life/nature, poison ourselves in a variety of ways for many reasons. We work hard to fukk up everything and dig our own graves and destroy the earth in the name of greed and might.
In Belphegor it seems that creating the best possible songs you can within the ‘Belphegor sound’ takes priority over exploring new musical territory. Do you think this is a fair comment?
I don’t agree, man. We do what we always do, that’s right. On CONJURING THE DEAD you find everything that BELPHEGOR stands for…without changing our sound drastically. It’s pure – it’s brutal … it’s fast Metal. We always re-define our musick, try new things…explore our sound and experiment within the Metal genre. A lot of NWOBHM flowed in the new songs. For me, still one of the best periods when it came to Metal. Hail to England for this great movement.
Here’s a kinda track break down:.
CONJURING THE DEAD speaks for itself. A sound wall forged in hell, exalted and evil!
IN DEATH is about my return on stage and front my band again, my experience with dancing with the dead. It’s an old-school fast forward Death/ Thrash Metal track. We never before had a song like that, with those fast forward thrashy parts. THE EYES is an intermezzo, it calms everything down after the first five brutal sound collages. I played the classic acoustic guitar and over that, you hear a lead guitar screaming.
After THE EYES, we start with this technical, complex Death Metal monster entitled LEGIONS OF DESTRUCTION. I wrote this song for the vokills, the brutal verse as a perfect fit for Mr. Glen Benton and the chorus with Black Metal influences, fitting to Mr. Attila’s insane, outstanding vocal style.
For REX TREMENDAE MAJESTATIS we added a lot classical tones in the guitar department. The title is taken from WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART’s last composition, REQUIEM. He wrote it in his deathbed. He knew he would die soon. The song has influences by this composition when it comes to the intensity of the atmosphere. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a composer like MOZART, he was a genius. But this track is exactly what I felt, which my aim was, as I started creating REX TREMENDAE MAJESTATIS and when I listen to REQUIEM.
On FLESH, BONES AND BLOOD we touched another new territory. The track comes with an industrial feeling and Slam Death Metal guitars, with a ritual atmosphere in the chorus.
The outro/epilogue of PACTUM IN AETERNUM, all played with nature instruments, most self made, a lot of parts there are played with real bones (humans and animals)… menacing and dark! Created by KRAMATACH, an archaic cave band from Austria.
While high-speed-massacres like BLACK WINGED TORMENT and GASMASK TERROR are typical BELPHEGOR tracks. BLACK WINGED TORMENT is with LUCIFER INCESTUS the fastest song I ever wrote. So I guess poeple that are into extreme musick should hear, that we developed a lot and tried many new elements to make all sounding more brutal…
What kind of reception have you had so far from the press and fans regarding "Conjuring the Dead"?
Feedback is great. We do it for ourselves, mainly. I try not to care too much what others say, though. Some like it, which is appreciated, an honour. Some hate what we do, or are offended…also fine by me. What we create is always to please ourselves, first and foremost. Have to dig the material you’ve written and hope people like it, but never just do it for anyone other than yourself.
Do you all have day jobs or is music your full time occupation?
We are a very active live band since 2000, and let’s say, we all try to survive, don’t we?! Yes, Musick is the law.
Do you think it is unrealistic for modern metal bands to expect to make a living from their art?
I don’t know, man, nor do I care. To be honest, I don’t care about "modern" Metal bands. I just see there are many bands around who are just playing, let’s say a style to sell a lot of records, please record companies, without having any spirit nor attitude to extreme musick, soulless marionettes, who produce garbage that you can listen to while going to the toilet. But they all break up or switch their style after a bunch of years, which is good, you know.
Live your dreams and work hard for them, believe in yourself, in what you are doing. Love it or leave it, there is no other way to go about it.
I care about BELPHEGOR and channel everything into the musick, that is what counts at the end and remains eternal… it’s a PACTUM IN AETERNUM. I work hard to create guitar hell, bone-crushing riffs…
Do you feel like you are a part of the Austrian scene these days? Are there any acts that you think our readers should check out?
I don’t pay attention to scenes, so I’m not that familiar with the Austrian one but, there are great bands that people may know, such as: ABIGOR, PUNGENT STENCH, DISASTROUS MURMUR, some are still active. I will recommend three interesting acts from Austria: My blood brother Barth’s band, OUR SURVIVAL DEPENDS ON US.
KRAMATACH, an archaic sounding act. Both bands are very connected with the spirit of nature. And of course the brutal Death Metal outfit, AMONGST THE DECEIT. Better check them out.
What has been your favourite gig of the past year? (As artist or punter)
There were so many great rituals the last 2 decades… we travelled world few times and it was amazing to meet so many metal maniakks and play with nearly all of my favourite bands and other great musicians.
What are your plans for touring the new album/festivals etc.?
We already did approximately 16 festivals this year in France, Italy, Sweden, Germania, Norway, Romania and Jakarta, to name a few. BELPHEGOR is meant to be experienced live. Each BELPHEGOR concert is a surprise man, we are known for brutal stage rituals, were we glorify Diabolical Death Metal… possessed and evil.
What’s next for Belphegor?
There is a lot coming on the map like Japan, China, South Africa. Always great to march into new territories, big challenges. Mid-September through mid-October we’re doing our 9th North American tour. First time that we headline a full tour in the US, that will be great. At the end of the year, a festival tour through South America.
Any final message for the fans?
Thanks for the space Peter. I don’t use the term "fan", I feel it’s degrading to our supporters. Well, I hope we get the opportunity to return to Scandinavia. Promoters interested in BELPHEGOR should contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Always a great pleasure to play over there, so many important acts hailing from Scandinavia and still keep the spirit of extreme art alive. Thank you to the people who listen to our records, buy merch at the shows, and all who attend BELPHEGOR live rituals. Invade your local record stores and pick up CONJURING THE DEAD! Hell awaits…
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