Metal Church - The Present Wasteland

According to demonology, Belphegor is a demon who helps people make discoveries and who manages to seduce them by suggesting ingenious inventions that will make them rich! Though all of the above sounds cool, the purpose of this review is neither to indulge in 16th century philosophy nor to engage in studies of the occult. What it will do, though, is to take a look at “Blood Magick Necromance” – the ninth studio album of the similarly-named Blackened Death Metal outfit which was first formed in the baroque – infused Salzburg/Austria and through sheer hard work, relentless touring and a unique use of provocative imagery, has managed to attract the attention of media and music fans alike over the past decade.

Though I cannot claim to have been completely oblivious to the name Belphegor in the past, I somehow never managed to either see this band live on any of the various festivals that I have attended over the years nor get hold on any of their previous albums. That in itself ensured that listening to “Blood Magick Necromance” was guaranteed a certain level of impartiality and objectivity, not forgetting to add the excitement that accompanies the discovery of every ‘new’ band. Well, what I was soon to discover was that the use of the word ‘excitement’ in the previous sentence was totally justified as this is one of the most impressive albums of Blackened Death Metal that I have come across in recent times – an album that offers eight cleverly crafted compositions which are both technically impressive, as well as quite easy to digest and relate to.

Opening the album with “In Blood – Devour This Sanctity” was a very clever move indeed, as this is a composition whose combination of fast blast beats and epic melodic guitar riffs will almost certainly attract the attention of fans of bands like Behemoth, bands that are currently quite popular with extreme Metal fans everywhere. More epic melodies, this time in less inhuman rhythmical patterns, can be found in “Rise To Fall And Fall To Rise” whereas the same-titled “Blood Magick Necromance” is more classic in its orientation, bringing in influences from the mighty Morbid Angel .“Discipline Through Punishment” stands out not only as one of the few German language compositions of the album, but also as one of the most melodic on offer, creating an interesting contrast with the three minute “Angeli Mortis De Profundis” whose drum-infused tempo is, simply put, relentless! One of my favourite songs of the album is “Impaled Upon The Tongue Of Sathan” and that is mainly since I found its lead guitar atmospheric parts to be terribly reminiscent of Mayhem’s classic opus “Freezing Moon”. “Possessed Burning Eyes 1997” is another case study in how successful an extreme metal band can be in combining melody with aggression, whereas “Sado Messiah” is another short opus that is based upon layers of blast beats and features one of the simplest Thrash riffs of the album.

I am quite pleased to be writing a review for “Blood Magick Necromance” as I am not sure whether I would have found the time to check out this band for myself. What I really like about this quintet is that they really know how to extract the best out of both Death and Black Metal and mould them together into a style that, though not necessarily the most unique or ground breaking, will bring a smile to the face of many fans of the extreme sound. If you add to this Peter Tagtgren’s organic production and the quite professional work made by the artwork designing duo Helmut Wolech/Joachim Luetke, what you end up with is a very impressive package.

John Stefanis

Rating: **** (4.0/5.0)

In his show broadcast on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio on 10 May David Randall played a further selection of artists and albums included in the new Features series, “2020 Vision”.

Listen in to Get Ready to ROCK! Radio…
Click the appropriate icons at the top of the page.

Featured Albums w/c 25 May (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 FM Synchronized (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 THE ROCKET DOLLS The Art Of Disconnect (indie)
14:00-16:00 BEN KUNDER Searching For The Stranger (indie)

Power Plays w/c 11 May (Mon-Fri)

THE MERCY KILLS Alone (Golden Robot Records)
DEAD REYNOLDS By Your Side (indie)
THE JAILBIRDS Watery Grave (Golden Robot Records)
ALI MASS & MICKY MOODY These Times (Last Man Music)
MASSIVE WAGONS Bangin In Your Stereo (Earache)
UDO We Are One (AFM Records)

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