Belef / Belef

Infection Purification

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Never let it be said that Belef's members don't believe in shock value; the front cover of this 2005 release depicts a zombie (or some other type of ghoul) branding a pentagram onto a naked woman's derrière. It's exactly the sort of sick, tasteless album cover one would have expected from grindcore favorites Cannibal Corpse 15 years earlier, although Infection Purification isn't grindcore in the Cannibal Corpse/Carcass/Cancer sense. Rather, this French band favors a very extreme, noisy, and harsh take on black metal -- and no one will mistake them for symphonic black metal, a melodic style that has combined black metal elements with the intricacy and musicality of power metal (and in some cases, progressive rock). There is nothing musical or intricate about Infection Purification; this sledgehammer CD is an exercise in high-speed noise for the sake of high-speed noise. Marduk and Dark Funeral are influences, but those bands are -- in their own brutal way -- much more accessible than Belef, who have also been greatly influenced by noise rock and go out of their way to be as abrasive and unforgiving as possible. For most black metal bands, blastbeats are a tool to be used when one wants to be especially emphatic. But Belef doesn't use blastbeats that way; rather, the whole album is like one nonstop blast. This totally merciless disc won't win any awards for variety; after the first few minutes, the listener has pretty much heard it all. But then, variety isn't what Belef is going for. Their main concern is maximum sensory assault -- that, and the time-honored tradition of annoying parents. In terms of creativity, Belef isn't in a class with Cradle of Filth, Dimmu Borgir, or Emperor, but those who like the idea of black metal being taken to a ridiculously harsh extreme may appreciate the sonic gangbang that is Infection Purification.

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