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“Totenritual” is Belphegor’s 11th studio album and the band states it is their most brutal one so far. The iconic frontman Helmut chatted with Metal Imperium and told us all about it.

M.I. - First of all, where did the ideas for the album title and album concept come from? 

Hail! All this time, we've celebrated blasphemy and living life in excess, of course the musick thrones above all, but the attitude, to be genuine and authentic in what we put out there are central. The devil is a powerful, fictional figure. I use the myths of Satan/ Lucifer, the Light-bearer in our lyrical content as a proud, majestic figure who resisted against all outside influences. It is not a religion to me, a religion involves superstition and the worship of something outside of oneself, and that is just pathetic, no matter what religion or deity it is. Satan is the Christian's own invention, and they see him as their enemy. So the old saying "The enemy of my enemy is my friend" works here. Christianity is a terrible and vile religion, and I have always been opposed to it, full of disgust and fury towards this oppressive institution. It feels natural to use their own antagonist against them. We have been using a lot of original poems for decades from old books etc. These consist of spells/ poems/ chants and so on, mostly in the original language in order to not deface the intended meaning…that's why our lyrical content comes in English, Latin and the German language as well. Latin, the church speech...it's utter blasphemy to mock them in their own language. German verses also sound very harsh in pronunciation and give the overall feeling a brutal approach and atmosphere. It's also a kind of unique trademark that we use three languages since 1994. I had many chances during my life to learn and know that real life is way stranger than any fiction. 

M.I. - You say this is the heaviest album you have ever made and I quote "It is the most  brutally heavy offering we have consecrated thus far." I have heard the songs and I'm starting to agree with you. But what else can we expect from this album? 

Our main goal was to create the most brutal heavy offering we have consecrated so far. Yes. The drums are uttermost blasting and very technical with loads of breaks/ fills and tempo changes. The bass is like a panzer tank rumbling through the terrain. The four rhythm guitars are aggressive and with an demonic obscure tone. Also I think this is also my most varied and best vocal performance so far. I have growls, grunts, screams, spoken words, chants, even monk choirs. I'm really proud of this album and can't wait until it gets unleashed. Everything pushes the limits of anything we have done before.

M.I. - How do you think the audience received the new songs? 

If people dig and respect and understand what we are doing, of course that is highly appreciated, and they are the reason why we are still here and allowed to march in worldwide with maximum strength.
For the haters or people that are offended then that's great too.  I don't cry around “Please listen to my musick/ art whatever… it is their loss not mine, oh well, fukk them! I also don't like a lot of things. I support what I like and ignore the rest of it. 

M.I. - Have you challenged yourselves creating this album? Do you think it took more work, more preparation than the others? 

Each project we start needs more time, energy, sacrifices of course, I think that it is important to develop and progress.  For “TOTENRITUAL” we tuned the guitars even more down than before, so we reached a different low-end tone and a more ritualistic vibe, the lower tuned guitars are a new challenge and an interesting experiment… it was a great decision and it opened a new guitar world in my playing, it is another state of extremities sound-wise. I despise restriction or stagnation. We always try to challenge ourselves you know. We do this by changing up the recording/ writing process/ studios/ producer etc. The main goal as we started this project, was to write the most brutal album with a Ritual vibe that leads through all 9 compositions and I guess we achieved it and all sounds exactly as we wanted to.

M.I. - How was the experience of recording a new album? Is it the same old feeling or with each new album you just get more excited? 

Always depends, of course a lot of things changed. We are way better musicians nowadays with a lot more experiences, and we still try new things and learn how to leave our comfort zone to create. Tracks like “Baphomet”, “The Devil’s Son” or the most brutal – attacking track on this new offering, titled “Swinefever – Regent of Pigs” are a perfect representation of Belphegor for 2017, how we intended to sound. We have become more effective at getting across what we aim to get across. We have found our essence, our "trademark" so to speak, but we also are able to develop and push that and since we're better musicians we make things more extreme as we so desire. We added new arrangements to our musick, some songs you need to hear four or five times to discover all we've put into them. On “TOTENRITUAL” everything is on fire.

M.I. - This is your eleventh studio album. How have the fans received those changes? 

I don't use the word fan, it's decadent to me and degrading. I don’t want that for our supporters. We have a loyal and dedicated support base and the horde is ever growing. That's great and highly appreciated. It makes us unstoppable and we revel in being able to march in worldwide and pissing in the mainstream with our attitude. The feedback so far has been brilliant regarding the release. People are mostly very pleased with the output, and that's just great.

M.I. - You'll be starting a new tour in support of the new album. Are there any discussions with the promoters for a concert here in Portugal anytime soon? 

Yeah masterplan is touring the world next years, I hope we get invited for 2018 and are able to return to Portugal, it is about time to play there again. After the release of “TOTENRITUAL”, we start with Europe followed by 30 dates through north America. A Ritual mid December will end this successful year for us with an indoor fest, called Black Christmass in Sweden. You know, a BELPHEGOR Ritual is like letting demons out to dance. We try to do everything authentically… the blood is real, the bones, the feeling is real, the intensity is real. It's a Ritual more so than a typical metal concert. I adore leaving spiritually my body for plus one hour during a Belphegor stage presence, letting the demons take over and get into total possession with the musick, it's a pleasure, if the ceremony is great and the audience gets loud and wild while glorifying Lucifer with us, it is Magick,…still one of the best and most interesting things to me. That's the essence of Belphegor, and I believe in the sheer power of live appearances, all four together unleash hell on stage.

M.I. - Last words? 

Thank you for this space and support Catarina.  Hails to all the demons who support us by listening to our sounds, attending our ceremonies, getting merch and spreading the plague. I hope people can't wait to get the new album, titled “TOTENRITUAL” and support us so that we can continue marching with maximum strength worldwide! See you on the road in 2018 in Portugal! An honour – this horror..

Questions by Catarina Gomes