I still remember reviewing 2003's "Lucifer Incestus", and here I am already reviewing my fifth BELPHEGOR CD, "Walpurgis Rites-Hexenwahn". It seems that the Austrian act has gotten even more prolific these past few years. What is far more impressive than the sheer number of albums in a relatively short time span is the inarguable fact that the black/death outfit consistently creates quality releases and, up until "Bondage Goat Zombie", BELPHEGOR had made significant leaps of musical progression while retaining their always harsh, always aggressive style.And I say "up until 'Bondage Goat Zombie'" not because "Walpurgis Rites-Hexenwahn" is some kind of disappointment or a comparatively weak effort, but only because with the possible exception of lyrical themes and the use of "original chants and incantations from archaic scripts", the album does not so much expand as it does steer a purer course of demonic ferocity. In fact, some of the nuances and expansive musical terrain explored on "Bondage Goat Zombie" have been pulled back a hair in favor of an approach that returns in some ways to the pure hellish aggression of "Lucifer Incestus", yet retains the dark majesty and vast improvements in melodic sensibility that are heard on the last three releases. In other words, it is another example of why BELPHEGOR is in a class all its own. Musically, those brilliant Symphony-for-Satan harmonies still abound, one of the primary trademarks of the BELPHEGOR sound — and damn, it never seems to get old. Every ode to iniquity is not a blast-fest like fierce opener "Walpurgis Rites" or "Destroyer Hekate", yet there is more of a front-to-back relentlessness present compared to "Bondage Goat Zombie". Rather than major structural departures, it is more a matter of tempo variance and subtler tweaks, except for the sadomasochistic march that is "Der Geisterteiber" (inclusive of a sinister bass line cadence to open and a downright frightening air raid siren effect). Yet even with that one, as well as the slight turn toward a more traditional thrash approach during the verses of "The Crosses Made of Bone", it is still BELPHEGOR in all its S&M-laced Satanic glory. By the way, as far as classic BELPHEGOR tunes are concerned, look no further than the uncompromising lasciviousness of "Hail the New Flesh". Truth be told, we're really splitting hairs here, which is difficult to avoid when you've reviewed five albums from the same band. The most important point to take home with you is that "Walpurgis Rites-Hexenwahn" is another great BELPHEGOR disc that is about as far from bowing to trends or compromising musical integrity as a group can get. I'm not sure BELPHEGOR are capable of doing any wrong at this point; they've surely not given any indication of it yet.
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