Death/black metallers Belphegor will be releasing their tenth album to date currently titled "Chapter X" the follow-up release to 2011's "Blood Magick Necromance". Frontman vocalist Helmuth took sometime over the holidays and New Year to give the rundown on this almighty release and future plans for it.
1. Did you ever think that this band would surpass being a band for over 20 years?´
Helmuth: Never! It’s still surprising that we’ve lasted so long. 20+ Years of chaos and brutal musick! I guess I missed almost a decade because of drug and alcohol abuse. What a great, intense hellride.
2. When did you start writing for this album? How was the songwriting process different/similar to previous Belphegor albums?
Helmuth: I don’t exactly remember. We had to delay the album three or four times now. I believe we started recording in May 2012 in St. Petersburg, FL with Erik Rutan at the helm as producer. We had to delay the LP a few times due to my health issues. The operation I had in October 2012 forced me to spend six weeks in the hospital and another six weeks rehab. After that, I was still recovering for nine months. Unfortunately, I had a lot of setbacks.
Anyway, let’s talk about the album. Everything was little different this time because I was close to death - the writing, rehearsals, the studio sessions -- and I felt dead for months! For me, this procedure was like a healing thing. When you have such a hard ride in your life you need a goal. My masterplan was to record another LP, try to return on stage, front my band again...it’s hard to describe if you were never in a situation like that, man.
In the end, I can say that all of this really helped me to stand up and rise again. A lot of things had to change in my life. But I didn't turn into a reborn christian dick. The nine sound collages are way more aggressive, direct and brutal than the last albums.
3. How would you say the new album compares to your previous records?
Helmuth: I don’t compare the albums. A new record is always a new chapter, a new challenge. It’s important that you are excited, that way you keep the sound, the flame, attitude burning and fresh! Stagnation is death.
4. How does it feel to be on album number ten the big 10 in your music career?
Helmuth: It’s just great! I can’t wait to release this monster by the end of June 2014! The previous album, BLOOD MAGICK NECROMANCE, came out in January 2011. There are only a handful bands left that play intense musick with extreme attitude - we are one of them. Hell yeah, it’s about time to show the world again how diabolic Death Metal has to sound!
5. This will be your sixth album signed with Nuclear Blast Records so the relationship with them has been going well these past 8-9 years?
Helmuth: Actually, it is number five for Nuke Blast records. Don't get me wrong, but I don't want to talk to much about the the business side. Nuclear Blast is a solid label, they give us support and worldwide distribution, what more could you ask for?
7. You recorded part of the album at the Mana Recording Studios in St. Petersburg, Florida where was the other half recorded and how was the whole recording experience for everybody?
Helmuth: Almost all were recorded in Florida. We just did some vocals here in Europe. Mixdown also will be handled by Erik Rutan/ Mana Studios. It is being mastered at West West Side Music by Alan Douches.
8. What was it like working with Erik Rutan what did he bring to the table for you guys? Are you happy with the ending results?
Helmuth: A new level when it came to tightness for Belphegor. The band performances never sounded that precise. Erik motivated us to give our all, sometimes really forced us, hahar. It’s awesome to work with a producer that is so on top of it, regarding the tone, and I mean the entire recording.
9. A few song titles have been mentioned "Realize Im Fire – I Do Not Burn", "Gasmask Terror", "Rex Tremendae Majestatis" and "Take Her, Lucifer!", can you describe these songs and the lyrics behind them?
Helmuth: You will hear all typical BELPHEGOR trademarks, all that is anti-christian, misanthropic and obscene! Shredding guitars, hammering bass, blasting drums, brutal grunts. Brutal! This kind of art has to be shocking, rebellious and powerful. If someone is offended, fine by me. We have many enemies and it means we are doing something right!
10. You went and asked Greek artists Anthon Siro Seth to come back after his previous work on 2006's "Pestapokalypse IV" - why was be asked to come back, what is it about his artisitc style that would make this album artwork the most disturbing to date? Can you describe the album artwork?
Helmuth: Yes, we chose Anton from Greece again, he is a great artist. For months we worked on the details for the cover.
It isn't our most disturbing. You can not shock more than the artwork on THE LAST SUPPER from 1995. I think it was one of the most brutal artworks ever in Metal history. It shows the Jesus fetus cut into pieces. To be honest, I never saw a more disturbing one, since it’s not gory...it looks real, you know! Ralph Manfreda, the artist from Vienna, did a great work. He also worked together with ingenious acts such as Disastrous Murmur and Pungent Stench.
Man, we had so much trouble back then, you can’t imagine. Most companies refused to print it – Sony etc. and many mail orders didn’t put it in shops or sent it back to the distributor after seeing it. Good memories, man. I miss those times when Death/ Black, lets call it extreme musick/ attitudes, really fukked up all the morality clowns/ institutions. Nowadays many bands are just a joke, tools for labels/ marketing whores,...they look at record sales and kiss ass. Crush them!
That’s why, in my opinion, the Scandinavian Death/ Black Metal Scene is an important impact, worldwide. A lot of bands that hail from there practice what they preach, the way it’s meant to be!!
11. Have you guys chosen an album title to go with for this 1-0 release if so, can you disclose the information on it and what the title symbolizes and represents?
Helmuth: Chapter X is the working title of this project. There are nine skullfukking aggressive soundcollages on the album. This is all I want to say at the moment.
12. A lot of your content revolves around Satanism, Blasphemy, Sadomasochism, and Perversion why these particular topics? What is it about these areas that drew you in?
Helmuth: Since I was a kid, I was always thrilled by horror, evil, the dark side of humanity. Later on in the beginning of the nineties, I get into the ingenious Marquis De Sade, so I added BDSM, to our concept. Blasphemy, the devil - mixed with obscene sex/ perversion. It inspired my whole life...it’s still my passion. I treasure these themes.
13. Do you guys really worship in the Devil or is it all just an act you portray on stage and in your music?
Helmuth: BELPHEGOR stands for Atheism with tendencies to lean towards nihilism. I said it a thousand times, I don’t know why the press doesn't get it and often label BELPHEGOR as Black Metal band. Maybe because of the brutal live rituals, I don't know, man. Same with our sound. It is Death Metal with blasting Black Metal influences.
We never tried to be a Black Metal band. Furthermore, I hate this trendy Blackened Death Metal term. Each band nowadays is “Blackened bla bla bla Metal”. Bores me to DEATH!
We shred lower tuned guitars since the end of 1992 and do a lot of growls to vary the vocal centre from spoken words, chanting, to screams, grunts etc. BELPHEGOR was one of the first bands that mixed both extremes of Death and Black Metal. I remember when we released THE LAST SUPPER in the beginning 1995, some wankers wrote “Whats this?”. Some scene-gurus thought it was not allowed to mix Death and Black Metal, and also to add leads was a crime to them, back in the day, hahahrrr.
Also, our offensive lyrical content isn't about worshiping anything other than yourself. Our attitude is “fukk you all”. Our philosophy is freedom,...walk own path, take own decision in an uttermost hermetical way. Thats what we always did and what BELPHEGOR stands for. No compromises!
14. Why do you think bands turn to the dark side of things, when it comes to this type of media and Entertainment?
Helmuth: A few practice what they preach, the hippie bands just pretend to like it and sing about darkness that they never felt. You hear it if they don’t deal with the darker side of life in all aspects, the guitar tone/ band/ whatever - never will sound evil.
15. Are there any surprises or are there any collaborations on the album?
Helmuth: Yes, for first time on a BELPHEGOR record. I had the honor to get a vocal appearance by my two favorite Death/ Black avant-garde vocalists singing on a track entitled “Realize Im Fire - I Do Not Burn”
It is too early to let you know who it is. All I can say is that it sounds brilliant. Both dudes did a great vokills performance for this track!! This horror is an honor.
16. It will be three years since the release of Blood Magick Necromance. Why such a long time period between albums?
Helmuth: The Typhus virus I got and the following heart operation, where they opened my chest with a saw, almost lead me to death. But I’m still here. I heard also Mr. King Diamond had a similar operation a few years ago and he is back. Anyways, I never delayed a record but this time life showed me borders that I couldn't master. And it is kind of frustrating but I don’t wanna put out a half-hearted album. I had to wait til I was back in better shape to finish it all. Demons that support BELPHEGOR, attend our rituals, wear our merchandise, who listen to our sound, just deserve the best.
17. Do you think this album is more or less accessible than Blood Magick Necromance? Why?
Helmuth: I don't talk about the best BELPHEGOR album. We did 10 LPs and on each album we tried our best. I leave it up to supporters, they should decide if they like it or not for themselves.
18. Blood Magick Necromance was a sizable success. Did you feel any pressure to follow it up?
Helmuth: Never from outside. We do things by our own, as we always did. After 20 years we are still roaring like a tank, louder than ever before. I guess that says it all!
19. Did the band have any definitive goals they were shooting for before the recording process began for this album?
Helmuth: This time my goal was slightly different. It was to survive this tough dance of death, stand up again, to return on stage after 9 months full of pain, misery and fear.
20. Are you using any new instrumentation you've never used in the recording process before?
Helmuth: Until now, when we did some acoustic guitars, we always used the electric guitar with less gain/ overdrive. Erik had the idea to try a classic guitar with fat steel strings. Absolutely worth it, it sounds great.
21. Have you been road testing any of the new material? If so, how have audiences reacted to the new material?
Helmuth: Not yet. All is still in early stages. The first single get released by the end of May, so we will premiere a new song in a live situation towards March/ April 2014.
I have to say, I miss the touring I did in the U.S. from 2006-2011! We did eight massive tours and recruited a lot of metal-maniakks! So many good memories come to mind..
22. When can we expect the new album to be released?
Helmuth: The still untitled new album will be unleashed by end of June 2014! Thanks for the space, Natalie. Hail to all demons for the tremendous support over the years. Hell awaits!