Austrian Death / Black Metal band, Belphegor are releasing their 12th album “The Devils”. We had some conversation with the front man, Helmuth.
– It’s been 5 years since the last album. It’s the longest gap for Belphegor. Why did it take such a long time?
Helmuth: Hail! This so-called pandemic forced us to delay the LP again and again. The original plan was to release it at the end of 2020, now it’s 29th July 2022. We can’t wait until we finally release our twelfth full-length album upon the metal community worldwide.
Serpenth and I are very proud of THE DEVILS. We consider it our most mature and most varied album to date. Although the restrictions which kept delaying this were aggravating and nonsensical, we made use of the time by practicing even more than we could between albums in the past, which allowed us to invent even more concepts within our signature sound. And it paid off to invest so much extra time in this twelfth full-length monster. It’s important to make the best of situations that are out of one’s own control. The whole process was challenging and we really sound exactly like we wanted to in 2022.
Furthermore, in my opinion, art needs to be confrontational, bizarre, and taboo-breaking. If it’s not, it’s just garbage to me. In 2022 everyone is so sensitive, we live in times of cancellation culture, which is terrible for freedom of speech. To castrate art is a malicious act. I don’t need anyone to tell me what and how we have to do things, nor do we kneel, pray or crawl before any figure or institution.
– What do you think is the biggest improvement / difference about the new album when compared to the last albums?
Helmuth: I don’t like to compare albums. Each LP is like a diary, a period in my life and stands on its own. This time, we took a big step ahead regarding experiments and new arrangements if, I may say so. Practice what you preach. For me it was most important not just to play average Black or Death Metal, I’m not a hippie. It has to be authentic, raw & insane, and the most important thing: as evil as possible. The immersion into the darker aspects of the human mind is worthy of exploration and dark art should not be censored. I am not theistic, but the themes of Satanism are something I value, such as not living in fear of judgement and walking one’s own path through life.
– The album title “The Devils” is very straightforward. Why did you choose this as a title? What is the message behind that?
Helmuth: I am an atheist with some Nihilistic views. The devil is a powerful fictional character. I use the philosophy about Satan/ Lucifer, the Light-bearer, in our lyrical content as a proud, exalted, majestic figure who resisted against all influences. A seducer, tempter. Satanism is not a religion I believe in, personally. A religion involves superstition and worship of something outside of oneself, and that is just not my thing, no matter what practice or deity it revolves around.
Satan is the Christian’s own invention, and they see him as their enemy. I can’t see the church as a clear institution, look at the widespread pedophilia to see how corrupt it is- disgusting! So the old saying “The enemy of my enemy- is my friend” works here. Christianity is a terrible religion, I have always rebelled against it and feel a sense of fury towards this oppressive institution. It feels natural to use their own antagonist against them.
– What are the lyrical themes this time? Where do you draw inspirations from?
Helmuth: Every element is made to express the evil atmosphere we seek within BELPHEGOR. For example, Latin is essentially a dead language which gives a particularly haunting tone, German sounds aggressive and brutal, I dig singing in my mother language, perfect for orders with its hard pronunciation. And English can be understood all around the world. The themes we use are universal, everywhere in the world there are people who rebel against what is forced upon us, which transcends any particular language or era. Freedom and exploration are values all human beings should seek within their lives, in my opinion, and why evil and bizarre elements are befitting of BELPHEGOR.
RITUS INCENDIUM DIABOLUS: It’s about my point of view when I enter the stage, to me a magical procession of diabolical bliss, creating the ultimate ritual of fire and death – all become one in the service of the goat god, Dominus. A BELPHEGOR concert is a cleansing procession where you let your demons out to dance. As soon as I hear the intro and start the incense before going on stage, I descend into another realm and enter a trance. I revel in leaving my body for more than one hour during a BELPHEGOR stage performance, letting the demons take over and submitting into total possession with the music, it’s a pleasure. I almost cum if the ceremony is great and the audience becomes wild while glorifying diabolical death music.
When you get to see a BELPHEGOR live show, you will experience what I’m talking about. It really takes a toll on your body and ears, activating your inner demons that are hovering above you. BELPHEGOR is the blood in my veins and a live performance is the true example of that.
THE DEVILS: Ultra heavy and most brutal track on the album, one of the most insane tracks we ever composed. The title track is BELPHEGOR to the bone. We will probably release this track as 3rd single a few days before the release date 29th July 2022. Heretical lyrics against religion and institutions in general. Content: “I reveal your evil and wickedness. I make you tremble. I am armed in fearsomeness. I represent supremacy. The Devils!”
GLORIFIZIERUNG DES TEUFELS: A slow track with a lot of haunting melodies and acoustic guitars. The Black Metal chorus is melodic and has this typical cold BELPHEGOR melody.
In my opinion very important and poetical sentence in the verse: “The shadows are bent, by his presence malign“, it deals with the goat’s kiss, the “Osculum Infame“ [also called kiss of shame] where if he seduced a woman, she must kneel down and kiss his backside to show him devotion through degradation. Some were so motivated to bring their tongue inside and turn it [Converte linguam tuam – in natibus meis]. The role could also be reversed whereby the witch was the recipient of the kiss.
Most of this song is in German language, I dig to sing in my mother language. It sounds evil and harsh. Perfect language for orders. Of course, also the black Austrian humour can’t be missed with such a theme and it’s part of the experience. I touched on these themes before like on WALPURGIS RITES – HEXENWAHN LP  but it’s interesting and I had to dig deeper. Amen!
DAMNATION – HÖLLENSTURZ: Another brutal track with beautiful acoustic guitar parts. The end part is pure extreme music, and I am very proud of the whole composition. Written from the demon BELPHEGOR’s perspective. He lives in caves in everlasting damnation and collecting souls, devouring hearts and the eyes of his victims. Chorus content: Gateway ov darkness – sandglass of time. Goat ov sin-sin – with crown ov skulls. Damnation – I devour eyes. I bring forth the spell – the spell ov wickedness.
KINGDOM OF COLD FLESH: “One of the most shocking criminal cases we have ever come across”said the prosecutor of the schizophrenic grave robber who excavated 29 bodies of young girls.
Humans have covered every imaginable and unfathomable expression of depravity, cruelty, and perversion. This song tells the true story of a brilliant historian
who spent his nights lying on fresh graves, listening to the dead girls’ lamentations, digging them up and mummifying them as big dolls. Content: “29 grieving mothers – you abandoned your girls. In the cold coffin. I prayed and brought them home. I warmed them up. Kingdom Of cold flesh.”
For the track “TOTENTANZ – DANCE MACABRE”, I needed to touch on this theme of “big pharma” and for-profit “medicine”. It had a terrible impact on nearly everyone on this planet while for some fukks, it was the biggest business scam of all time. That’s how I see things, and I don’t mind if people disagree with me here.
Don’t get me wrong I understand why some people were concerned, but there were people alone in their cars or outside on bikes with masks over their faces and it says a lot about humanity 2022. That’s why we did these controversial lyrics for TOTENTANZ – DANCE MACABRE, where I sing in one line “TOTENTANZ – of the faceless crowd.” You can interpret a lot of different things just in this sentence. Anyway, I stopped watching TV decades ago because I didn’t want to be a part of these games. It’s unfortunate that this time no one could avoid the widespread impact of this “event”.
CREATURE OF FIRE is a new experiment for BELPHEGOR. We’ve incorporated possessed female chants done by the Greek singer, Fany Melfi. Fany did a great job on that track and can also be heard during the acoustic guitar end part of DAMNATION – HÖLLENSTURZ. A really different ending for a BELPHEGOR album with a ritualistic vibe from the monotone kettledrums and these female chants. I did all the male choir parts by myself.
It was an interesting experiment, even though I have been doing choral parts since the LUCIFER INCESTUS album 2003. I never did choirs with different layers and moods, which was a great idea by Jakob K./ Mischmaschine Studios, where I tracked vocals & guitars and Serpenth bass. He came up with this amazing idea, he had a lot of experience and was singing as a teenager in a church choir so he instructed me what I have to do to sound like a real monk choir. I’m really proud of these new arrangements for the new album “THE DEVILS”. Always great to try new things for our soundcollages. And I have to admit, I am very curious how our supporters will take this track. It’s totally different from what we have composed before.
– What does the artwork represent? Does it have a connection to the album title or any of the songs on the album?
Helmuth: Seth Siro Anton again did fantastic work with the art. He is excellent, the perfect artist to bring the concepts I envision to life. I always prefer to work with passionate, creative people. Even better if they listen to or play metal. It’s always a pleasure to work with him. I have visions of how I want the artworks to look and he again understood and brought it to life through his own pen.
BELPHEGOR’s themes will always revolve around evil and obscure imagery, it’s what inspires us. Seth and I are a great team. He did four artworks for BELPHEGOR, starting in 2006 with the cover of PESTAPOKALYPSE VI.
The cover elements are influenced by renaissance and middle age paintings. We wanted it not to be the usual Jesus with knives or nails in his body, we went for blasphemy that is a little more sophisticated.
For me it was also very important to have the crocodiles, some people asked why crocodiles. Almost each band uses eagles, lions, or snake imagery, and yes, we also did these hahar. Crocodiles are way more evil and unpredictable. You can walk with lions or swim with sharks, I never saw anyone swim with crocodiles.
In my opinion they are the number one predators of the food chain aside from humans. I have studied these fascinating animals for years, so it was about time to use crocs on a BELPHEGOR artwork, representing nature’s gift to them of eternal mercilessness.
I adore the new artworks, perfect fit for the songs and lyrical content on THE DEVILS.
– Simon “Bloodhammer” Schilling play on TOTENRITUAL album. David Diepold played the drums on THE DEVILS album. How did it happen?
Helmuth: BELPHEGOR is Serpenth and I at its core, we are in charge. Simon “Bloodhammer” Schilling went over to MARDUK. He did a great job for the last album TOTENRITUAL  and it was great to tour the world with this fukker. We are still in touch, there isn’t bad blood, which is a great thing. I mean we traveled for years in the same bus and ate on the same table and delivered evil music worldwide. Like all relationships, sometimes people go separate ways. And it seems like we will meet in Nov/ Dec 2022 again, can’t say more about it at the moment, however.
Fellow Austrian, David Diepold, is an outstanding drummer. We recruited him to rehearse and track THE DEVILS with us. He was the perfect choice. This man is in the top 10 worldwide metal drummers. He brought a lot to the songs with his organic, precise drumming and made the tracks on THE DEVILS shine even more.
– This time you worked with Jens Bogren instead of Andy Classen. Why was that?
We’ve worked with many producers in the past, such as Andy Classen [BONDAGE GOAT ZOMBIE, THE LAST SUPPER, PESTAPOKALYPSE VI], Alexander Krull [LUCIFER INCESTUS & GOATREICH – FLESHCULT], Eric Rutan [CONJURING THE DEAD], [Peter Tätgren [BLOOD MAGICK NECROMANCE] or Jason Sucof for the last album TOTENRITUAL.
We always experiment within our signature sound and change formulas, use different studios or producers, that keeps us thrilled and challenged so the fire of creativity & creation is burning. This time, we again took a step ahead with all compositions on “THE DEVILS”. The producer Jens Bogren put all of his knowledge to use on this album and made the songs shine like a black diamond with a brilliant and clear production. If he is available we definitely want to work with him a second time for another BELPHEGOR project. So, from composition to lyrics and the artwork, the sound, we completely focused our energy into every aspect.
– Please give the message to the Japanese Belphegor fans!
We hope we will be invited to return to Japan, and Asia, in general. It’s been a while, so about time to return. As I said already, we dig playing for you guys and promote THE DEVILS in a live session everywhere in Asia as well, to shred our soundcollages with utmost brutality into the horde. An honor – this hoRRor!
Written by Mirai Kawashima
- The Devils
- Totentanz – Dance Macabre
- Glorifizierung des Teufels
- Damnation – Höllensturz
- Virtus Asinaria – Prayer
- Kingdom of Cold Flesh
- Ritus Incendium Diabolus
- Creature of Fire
- Blackest Sabbath 1997
Helmuth (Vocals, Guitar)
David Diepold (Session Drums)