If you ask someone who likes many different things in the metal scene to name bands from Austria, Belphegor will definitely be among the first answers. Helmuth (guitars, vocals) continues undeterred his blasphemous vision with the band he founded in 1992 and reached the twelfth full-length album with the very simple (for his standards) title “The Devils”.
Musically, I didn’t know exactly what to expect since the last record I listened to extensively was 2000’s “Necrodaemon Terrorsathan”! Starting the listening, I can say that Belphegor pleasantly surprised me, since I had them as a more “stubborn” band that stays true to a style without many changes. Something that of course is not confirmed here and I will probably look for their previous works to see what else they have tried in recent years.
“The Devils” mainly focuses on an atmospheric mid-tempo style, since most tracks move in this direction having added acoustic guitars, wonderful melodies (sometimes oriental) as well as female and choral vocals. A typical example is the awesome “Glorifizierung Des Teufels” which is probably the best of this release. I would say that here they follow a style similar to that of Behemoth, but without copying them.
The only ones that reminded me of the record I mentioned above were “Totentanz – Dance Macabre” and “Kingdom Of Cold Flesh” which move in classic death/black blasting. But “The Devils” stands out thanks to its awesome atmospheric parts, which make it sound so majestic. Jens Bogren’s production also helps in this, which is what is needed to highlight all these elements of the Austrians’ music.
In conclusion, in “The Devils” a remarkable job has been done in all areas and it is recommended to every fan of death/black metal. As a bonus there is also “Blackest Sabbath 1997” which is a medley of “Blackest Ecstasy” and “Blutsabbath” from 1997’s “Blutsabbath” and was released as a digital single at the end of 2021. It is also worth noting that the cover was designed for third consecutive album (and fourth overall) by Spiros Antoniou of SepticFlesh.