Straight out of the gate with ‘Baphomet’, you know Belphegor mean business and are here to destroy everything in their path.
Dropping the usual black metal stylings in favour of a straight up and down death metal track that would make Morbid Angel take notice, the guitars just plod along on top of intense kick drumming while ocalist Helmuth summons hell itself into your ear drums.
Just when you think the playing couldn’t get any more intense, ‘The Devil’s Son’ brings the more black metal leanings o the fore, with some great lead guitar work buried in the mix. Right at the end, the band drops in a smoothing acoustic interlude. The push into the middle of Totenritual sees Belphegor getting better and even more intense; each track uses film samples to add intensity and atmosphere. Both ‘Swinefever – Regent Of Pigs’ and ‘Apophis – Black Dragon’ are some of the best music Helmuth and Co. have ever assembled.
The only rest from this assault comes from the instrumental track ‘Totenbeschworer’. Initially a little out of place, after repeated listens it helps set up for the following two tracks that again lean on black metal influences more than anything. ‘Embracing the Star’ particularly can leave you exhausted as it darts from short quiet passages and back into the cold dark black that surrounds such false security.
Title track ‘Totenritual’ feels a little lacklustre after the previous assault. It is hard to pin down, but it could have done with more of whatever was driving the preceding vicious eardrum assault.
This is without doubt the best album put together by this band. It has all the elements that make the band great and ramps the aggression and playing up tenfold, leaving you exhausted but hungry for more.
2. The Devil’s Son
3. Swinefever – Regent of Pigs
4. Apophis – Black Dragon
5. Totenkult – Exegesis of Deterioration
6. Totenbeschworer (Instrumental)
7. Spell of Reflection
8. Embracing a Star