The Bottom Line
- Aggressive blackened death metal.
- A few attempts made at incorporating melody.
- Helmuth’s biting raspy vocals.
- Lyrics come across as more cheesy than menacing.
- Band largely plays it safe.
- Released October 20, 2009 on Nuclear Blast Records.
- Belphegor’s eighth album.
- Produced by Andy Classen.
Guide Review - Belphegor - 'Walpurgis Rites: Hexenwahn'
No, this isn’t some twisted version of Milton’s “Paradise Lost.” It’s just the cover art for Belphegor’s eighth album Walpurgis Rites – Hexenwahn, another collection of songs that deal with witchery and all kinds of sacrilegious behavior. For the band, it’s business as usual this time around. Long-time fans can still expect to hear Helmuth’s raspy screams piercing through the wall of tremolo picking and pummeling blast beats, with subtle hints of melody to break up the chaos.
Even though Helmuth is the only original member of Belphegor left, the band hasn’t changed much over the years. Blistering opener “Walpurgis Rites” is the perfect evidence of that, as the band shows that their brand of blackened death metal still has a sharp edge to it. “Reichswehr In Blood” and “Destroyer Hekate” continue in the same vein as the opener, leaving the listener breathless and with a bruised neck from the ensuing head banging.
While largely similar to last year’s Bondage Goat Zombie, Belphegor does throw a few curve balls into Walpurgis Rites – Hexenwahn. “Veneratio Diaboli - I Am Sin” is the band’s longest song to date, a seven-minute opus that spirals into a cataclysm of misery and evil, before arising with a melodic solo and a sneering attitude. The clean intro to “Enthralled Toxic Sabbath” is a nice change of pace, though the band doesn’t follow up on it too much, reverting to their old habits quickly.
Black metal lyrics have become more insanely humorous as time has gone on, with Belphegor being as guilty of this as many other bands in the genre. Instead of being menacing or haunting, the lyrics come off as cheesy and over-done. Try to hold in laughter as Helmuth randomly screams “F---- you, you f---ng slut!” or yells “I am Satan” ad-nauseum. Belphegor fans have dealt with this for years and Walpurgis Rites – Hexenwahn is no different.
With Walpurgis Rites – Hexenwahn, it is evident that Belphegor has reached a creative comfort zone. Nothing here will surprise any long-time fans or those who have rancid black metal blood flowing in their veins, but the band is still one of the most consistent acts in the genre. Walpurgis Rites – Hexenwahn is another grim edition to the on-going blasphemous saga that Belphegor has crafted for over a decade.