Belphegor

Walpurgis Rites: Hexenwahn

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Long-running Austrian death/black metal band Belphegor are masters of track and album titles. Previous discs have sported names like Bondage Goat Zombie, Pestapokalypse VI, and Lucifer Incestus, with songs like "Belphegor -- Hell's Ambassador," "Sexdictator Lucifer," and "Demonic Staccato Erection." This new disc includes such life-affirming anthems as "Hail the New Flesh," "Veneratio Diaboli -- I Am Sin," and "Enthralled Toxic Sabbath." Which makes the prospect of a Belphegor album exciting on its surface. The trouble is the actual music. It's pretty much rote black metal with some death metal flourishes, like tweedly guitar solos and gut-shaking double-bass drumming. There are a few stand-out moments, like a slow, grinding passage in "Hail the New Flesh," but Belphegor really aren't doing anything on Walpurgis Rites: Hexenwahn that they haven't done on earlier albums. This album represents a holding pattern, not progress, which some might take to mean it's aimed solely at existing fans -- but, ironically, the band's very artistic stasis, and black and death metal's utter resistance to hooks and melody, mean that this album is also as good an introduction to Belphegor as any of their earlier releases.

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