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belphegor2014 03Interview with

Helmuth (vocals, guitar) from Belphegor

Austrian Black/ Death maniacs BELPHEGOR are about to return with their acclaimed tenth studio album ‘Conjuring The Dead’. The album is bound to be released on 8th of August 2014 via Nuclear Blast. Shortly before the release, we had the chance to talk to front man, vocalist and guitarist Helmuth, who has some interesting insights to offer. Not only does he talk about the creation of the album, but also how the process was affected by his health issues.

Reflections of Darkness [RoD]: You are about to release your new album, ‘Conjuring The Dead’. How has working on this album been for you?
Helmuth: I never worked so hard on any other release. I always had in the back of my mind, and feared after my life-threatening illness, that it could be the last BELPHEGOR album. So I didn't want to fuck around, I wanted to do things absolutely right. My health issues and following recovery affected everything regarding the new album, the writing process, the band, my life. There were many delays and setbacks as I had to submit to and adjust to my new limitations. ‘Conjuring The Dead’ was a tough raid, can’t wait till it gets belphegor2014 01released and I have my very own physical album in my hands. That's always a very special moment to me, then I get to see all the hard work, the sweat the sacrifice, that it all was worth it.

RoD: Where there any significant differences regarding your 2011 work ‘Blood Magick Necromance’?
Helmuth: ‘Blood Magick Necromance’ was our most epic album with elaborate arrangements, almost all songs over six minutes playtime, it had orchestrations, etc. ‘Conjuring The Dead’ isn't as polished and represents brutal Death Metal with obscure melodies. In my opinion, ‘Conjuring The Dead’ is our most mature and serious album so far, but I don’t spend a lot of time comparing them. You get all the trademarks we are known for. For me, this is one of our strongest releases. We created some really complex, technical death tracks like ‘Conjuring The Dead’, the exalted, majestic ‘Rex Tremendae Majestatis’ and ‘Legions of Destruction’. Because I wanted this album to be more intense, in my opinion, that called for more death-growl style vocals, which has surprised some of our audience, but the feedback has mostly been positive. There are plenty of my classic grunts, screams, and familiar BELPHEGOR trademarks throughout the album, though.

RoD: How do you feel about the album in general, also compared to your previous releases?
Helmuth: I don’t like to compare albums, each time we do our best to get all on the next level within our sound and always try new things. I am very proud of this album. We still march on and on and celebrate the brutal Metal of Death!!

RoD: When did you start writing and recording material for ‘Conjuring The Dead’? Who in general is responsible for writing the music and the lyrics?
Helmuth: It began in 2011. As I mentioned, there were many delays and setbacks as I belphegor2014 02recovered from my illness and the operation, so everything took much longer than expected. Both Serpenth and I write everything, unless stated otherwise. We always compose the music.

RoD: Regarding the lyrics: is there an overall concept on the album or which topics do you like to cover?
Helmuth: The cover art is a good representation of the themes. This is a conceptual depiction of the world of terror we actually do live in. It’s about how I see the human race nowadays, how we destroy life/ nature, poison ourselves in a variety of ways for many reasons. We work hard to fuck up everything and dig our own graves and destroy the earth in the name of greed and might. On top there are, as always Anti-god and Anti-life poems. We also often take a lot of old verses, chants, spells and make them original. Mock the sheep! I’ve always used 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, a tempter. One to make his own decisions, walk his own path as a rebel, a mocker against the masses. Victorious!!  I find inspiration everywhere. I was and still am impressed by the darker aspects of humanity, thrilled by everything that is different and non-conformist, also “evil”/ anti-god concepts.

Thereby, I describe myself as atheist. I mean, there is a lot of obscurity and possession in BELPHEGOR, still is and always was. I also grunt in three languages for over a decade now:  English, German and Latin, the church speech. It's utter blasphemy to mock them in their own language; it gets this great chanting effect.  German verses also sound very harsh in pronunciation and give the overall feeling a brutal approach and atmosphere. The thing with art in my opinion is, only the excessive people did something that counted and lasted. Look at the history of art, it doesn't matter--painter, composer, author, actor, whatever-- the ones who were close to insanity, often in delirium, on drugs in kind of “their own twilight zone”, were the best and still remain.

RoD: You have Attila from Mayhem and Glen from Deicide as guest vocalists – how did you decide on working with them and why do they appear particularly on the song ‘Legions of Destruction’?
Helmuth: Since we are known for creating a symbiosis of death and black metal, I wanted to have in each genre my favourite vocalist. This idea was stuck in my head for a long time. It was just to please my ego, hahahrrr. Truly, it’s really an honour to me. I appreciate their vocal styles and what their work brought to the extreme Metal community. I wanted to belphegor2014 03have those two guys, not just any dudes from some other bands. My plan was either them or fuck the plan. I think I first asked Attila about it in 2007, as we recorded ‘Bondage Goat Zombie’. With DEICIDE we did two big tours, one in the US one we conquered and devastated Europe. And Glen liked the idea, which was great to me. Finally it worked out. Both bands in the beginning were very important and inspiring to BELPHEGOR. Once again, It’s an honour that they put their magic on this track. I believe it was Metal Rules that was talking about the ‘Three Tenors From Hell’, since I'm also doing vocals on this track. What a grand remark!

RoD: The album was produced by Erik Rutan from HATE ETERNAL - why and how did you decide on working with him? What is different regarding previous albums? And, what in general, is important for you concerning the sound and the final mixing of your music?
Helmuth: All producers we worked with did a great job. But Erik had the hardest time, since I wasn't totally recovered, so we had to do many breaks, delay the LP 4-5 times. I thought I’d never finish the fucker. It was definitely another dream that came true to me, to record this slasher in the US. It was absolutely the right decision to fly over and track the album in St. Petersburg, Florida with Erik. The collaboration was just awesome, way better than I ever expected. My guitars never sounded so precise on a BELPHEGOR album. Everything sounds exactly how we wanted; raw more true/ live sound. He was on top of his game, acted as if he was in the band, as if it was his own band... just insane, he helped so much and brought so much fire and dedication to get the album done after two long years.

RoD: What is important for you when it comes to the cover artworks for your albums?
Helmuth: Always depends, man. This time I wanted to have many details. Seth and I had great teamwork. It took months to finish. I dig the result, it just fit perfectly to the whole atmosphere, the lyrical content.. At the end, it’s all about the sound collages, that’s what stays and counts, we let the music do the talking. A BELPHEGOR release always is a package of extreme, obscene art. Some love it, which I appreciate, an honour to us. Some hate it or are offended, also fine by me.

RoD: How do you decide on your setlist and which tracks make it on the final album?
Helmuth: We always record 1 song more, during the recording process 1 song always will belphegor2014 04get dropped. I also think with this extreme sound, 36-38 minutes of music is enough for a record. No fillers – concentrate on killers. This new album is our most matured one.

RoD: BELPHEGOR has been around for a while - do you feel or think that your attitude towards making music has changed over the years? Or has it developed into a certain direction?
Helmuth: We never changed our style drastically nor split up or took a break. I guess that says it all… the passion, the fire to create brutal music is still burning and we are ready to destroy, to storm in worldwide and bring Death and Chaos.

RoD: Do you already have plans for a future release? Or is it still too early?
Helmuth: Haharr, no way. Next two years we will tour and promote ‘Conjuring The Dead’. We are solidly booked till February 2015. If people hopefully dig the LP and buy the physical album, we will record another one, if not we can't, cause we will probably get dropped. Music biz is hard. So all what I can say, BELPHEGOR legions support our legacy, buy the new record.

RoD: ‘Conjuring The Dead’ is already your fifth Nuclear Blast release. How do you feel about working with them?
Helmuth: All good so far. I really don't want to talk about the business side. Let’s put it this way tough, the industry is hard to deal with, especially for a band like BELPHEGOR. But yeah, we get a solid budget and worldwide distribution - what more could you ask for.

RoD: What are your plans to promote the album? Do you have any upcoming festival appearances or tours scheduled?
Helmuth: In Europe, we concentrate on festivals for 2014-2015. We are doing approximately 20 open airs and indoor festivals this year. Norway, Sweden, Jakarta, France, Germania are already successfully conquered. There is a lot coming on the map like Japan, China, South Africa. It is always great to march into new territories, big challenges. Mid-September through mid-October we’re doing our 9th North American tour. First time that we headline a full tour in the US, that will be great to return and conquer the states again. Direct support is from our Greek Metal brothers in ROTTING CHRIST, BEHEADED from Malta and SVART CROWN from France are also a part of the bill. At the end of the year, a festival tour through South America. Each BELPHEGOR concert is a surprise man, we are known for brutal stage rituals. Many great places offer outstanding crowds. There will always be somewhere new to conquer, and we look forward to it.

RoD: Thanks a lot and best wishes!
Helmuth: Thanks for the space. I also want to say thank you to the people who listen to our records, buy merch at the shows, and all who attend BELPHEGOR live rituals. Invade your local record stores and pick up ‘Conjuring The Dead’! The album will be released in Europe on the 8th of August, UK/FR on the 11th of August. Hell awaits… /

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