Adding to 2005’s already promising death metal crop, come Austria’s Belphegor with their 5th blasphemous offering. While this is my first exposure to this rather revered European act, it won’t be my last as Goatreich-Fleshcult is a prime of example of death metal done Fuckin’ A right.

With a hint of black metal (a few atmospheric synth laced passages, tremolo picked riffs, biting layered harmonies), but generally steeped in a swirling crossbreed of US brutality and European songwriting, Belphegor are perfectly paced, visceral and merciless. Immediate comparisons to Hate Eternal or Krisiun with a Swedish tint, come to mind, due to the hyperspeed of the material, but where bands like the recently reviewed Belef and even Krisiun themselves (although they have shown some control of late) lock into a single pace for an albums entirety, Belphegor inject some European fueled lurches, acidic solos and atmospheric touches to balance out the sonic sandblasting and littering the album with a heinously evil personality.

Belphegor’s sodomizing style starts with “The Cruzifixus – Anus Dei” and it’s typically obscure introductory sample, before an expulsion of razor sharp, buzzing blast beats; the overall tone of Belphegor at times reminded me slightly of Necrophobic at times, but with one death metal boot crammed up Christ’s ass. The assault continues for the scathing “Bleeding Salvation” which initially has more of a death metal feel, with deeper riffs, but soon overlays the chaos with a surprisingly epic choral arrangement and synth line. Expecting a reprieve, I was instead soundly beaten by the splinter in your pee-hole agony of “Fornicationium Et Immundus Diabolus”. It’s not until “Sepulchre of Hypocrisy” where I can unclench every fiber of my being and relax somewhat to the crawling Morbid Angel inspired menace the track imbues. Some serpentine melody oozes into the title track’s chorus, and the seething “Swarm of Rats”, crossing over into Scandinavian Marduk/Dark Funeral territory, but everything still stays in line with the album’s overall eviscerating death metal nature.

Another lumbering reprieve arrives for the massive start of “Kings Shall be Kings”, but the track’s surprising early eloquence is annihilated by a knee wilting chorus with vocalist Helmuth giving a genuinely evil performance that’s neither as synthetic as Behemoth’s Nergal nor as hokey as Glenn Benton, but has the same multi-demonic effect. In fact, if the over produced Demigod didn’t sit with you too well, I’d highly recommend Goatreich-Fleshcult. The tortured monkish chants that lace album closer “Festum Asinorum/Chapter 2” gives the material the hellish ambience that complements the velocity of the music, ending the album with a fitting climax.

Goatreich-Fleshcult is one of those rare albums that has me a quivering mess for its duration and short of breath upon completion; a damn fine exercise in death metal extremity.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
February 24th, 2005


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