One of the few extreme metal bands to emerge from Austria, Belphegor had an impressive run of six brutal blackened death-metal albums, beginning in 1992, before they lost their lust for blood and started recycling old ideas with 2008′s uninspired Bondage Goat Zombie. They remained in a slump for three years, and even when they tried reinventing themselves in 2011 on Blood Magick Necromance with longer songs and more intricate arrangements, the changes seemed unnatural and the tracks felt longer, not better. Many fans assumed Belphegor had passed their prime and been overtaken by new wave of American black metal bands including Nachtmystium and Wolves in the Throne Room.
As it turned out, all Belphegor needed was time to regenerate. Conjuring the Dead isn’t a return to form, it’s a makeover, melding the band’s past strengths — face-melting riffs, thundering drums and demonic vocals — with new textures like acoustic guitars, tribal rhythms, choral and choral chants.
Unlike the sprawling Blood Magick Necromance, Conjuring the Dead is challenging, but direct, each song lasting an average of just under four minutes — which is part of the reason the album impacts with such vital force. Through years of trial and error, Belphegor have learned how to use diversity and dynamics to bend your ear and keep you hooked through a wild ride.