Den 8. august udgiver de østrigske Death / Black veteraner fra Belphegor deres 10. studiealbum, "Conjuring The Dead". I den forbindelse har vi lavet et interview med bandets hovedmand, Helmuth Lehner.
Hello. First of I would like to congratulate you on your forthcoming album “Conjuring The Dead”. Could you start out by introducing yourself and tell us what part in the band you have?
Thank you. I’m Helmuth the founding member, guitarist, responsible for the vocals, and main songwriter of BELPHEGOR.
Why did you choose this title for the record, does it have any special meaning?
In September 2011 I got infected by a life-threatening Typhus virus during our South American tour. It almost put me to death. I had to undergo a difficult operation in beginning of October the 4th 2011, I never will forget those terrible weeks. I was 6 hours dead, only able to survive through machines and cables that went in and out of my body. I describe it as a dance with death. I survived, but it forced me to take a break almost a year. That’s one of the reasons why I choose this title. It also relates to many common BELPHEGOR themes.
When did you start working on this album, how long did the process take from the first step to the final product?
I believe I started sometime during December 2011, a few months after my operation. I couldn’t play guitar over two months as I recovered. That never happened in almost 3 decades years, I always play, I see myself primarily as a musician. That was one definitely one of my biggest presents, to get my hands on my guitar again. At that point, I knew it would get better with a goal in sight to work on a new project. That really helped me to recover and pulled me out of the hole I had been in.
The entire thing took ages, much longer than expected, because there were a lot of setbacks until around Summer 2012. We finished the mastering by the end of May 2014. I guess that says it all. CONJURING THE DEAD gets unleashed in Europe 8th August, so it’s been three years and over 7 months since our predecessor BLOOD MAGICK NECROMANCE first saw the light of day. I hope people didn’t forget about us and will still support our legacy and check the new record.
Was it hard to write new material for this record or did it come naturally for you?
It wasn’t that hard, I’m used to the process and always stay inspired. This is album #10! The damn problem was my health issues, for months I couldn’t play longer than lets say 1-2 hours of guitar. That was tough to deal with...Normally when I go into composing mode, I play over seven or eight hours a day without end. I'm possessed when it comes to these things.
I’ve always been very active, toured all the time…an excessive lifestyle and outlook which almost lead me to death. This time all was different. That is the reason why the new slasher is so brutal, I was caught in my sick, wounded body and couldn’t do what I wanted to do and I had never felt a lack of freedom or ability before. So a lot of perspectives had to change and I had to pace myself. I’m doing well now. Thanks to the doctors who saved my life. I am still not some kinda reborn christian but yes, my experience did inspire me to work harder than ever on this new album.
The album was recorded in Flodida at Mana Recording Studios with Erik Rutan as producer. Why did you pick him for the album?
As I started creating the new sound collages I had a goal. A brutal, extreme Death Metal album. I wanted to put some of the more epic elements aside and concentrate on dynamics and intensity, more to the point- direct and aggressive. Primitive!!
That’s why we decided for Erik Rutan as producer and recorded in Florida.. I always wanted to have that US brutal sound for a BELPHEGOR Lp, but I never thought it would happen.
Besides, Erik is a great person, great musician and amazing producer. Collaboration was just awesome, way better than I ever expected. He brought some ideas here and there, and motivated us to track the best performances. My guitars never sounded that precise on a BELPHEGOR album. If you turn the volume all the way up, it’s as if the band is in the same room with you and blasting the shit outta hell.
“In Legions of Destruction” you have guest vocals by Glen Benton and Attila. How did you arrange this?
I also had this vision for a long time, wasn't a marketing thing. It was just to please, let’s say, my own ego, hahahrrr. I mean, it’s really fukking killer to me and I appreciate their vocal styles and what their work brought to extreme Metal.
I wanted to have those two guys, not just any dudes from some other bands. It was either them or fukk the plan. I think I first asked Attila about it in 2007 as we recorded BONDAGE GOAT ZOMBIE. Back then, there was always a problem, they were on tour, or we were on tour, it was difficult to the schedule. Both bands in the beginning were very important and inspiring to BELPHEGOR. This is a honor to me to have these two guys putting their magick on that track. It’s one of the most complex, technical tracks on the Lp.
Anti-religious lyrics have always been a trademark for Belphegor. Could you please elaborate on this and your view on religion in general?
I describe myself as atheist. I was and still am impressed by the darker aspects of humanity. Antigod – Antilife. All that is different and non-conformist. Some love it, which is highly appreciated and that’s an honor to us. Some hate it others are offended, all fine by me.
The thing with art in my opinion is, only the excessive people did something that counted and lasted. You can't sing about hell if you've never been there. Look at the history of art, it doesn't matter--painter, composer, author, actor, whatever-- the ones who were close to insanity, often in delirium, on drugs in kind of “their own twilight zone”, were the best and still remain.
I use the philosophy about Sathan/Lucifer - the lightbearer in our lyrical content as a proud, exalted, majestic figure who resisted against all influences. A seducer, tempter. One to make his own decisions, walk his own path as a rebel, a mocker against the masses. Victorious!!
Since the release is only a few weeks away now, how has the response from the press been?
Feedback from the media is amazing so far. Seems they dig the new album, which is great after all that sweat, blood and energy that flowed in this monster. Three and a half year break is, nowadays, kind of a long time for a band without any release. We are still a very active live troop, that’s what real Metalheads appreciate, they are loyal.
You have already released the songs “Gasmask Terror” from the new album, how has the new material been received from the fans so far?
Its like always, some ppl dig it some not. Some complains about the Death Metal approach on this lp, and the raw – brutal sound, but that was my masterplan as i started creating the new lp. U cant please everyone, for me all good man, I know that this is one of our strongest releases ever. Because I wanted this album to be more intense, in my opinion, that called for more death-growl style vocals, which has surprised some of our audience. There are plenty of my classic grunts, screams, and familiar BELPHEGOR trademarks throughout the album, though. We’ve always experimented with our sound, stagnation is death. CONJURING THE DEAD is a strong motherfukking Lp.
Who did the artwork and what is the idea behind it?
It was a pleasure to create the new art with Seth hailing from Greece. It was solid teamwork. We both brought ideas and the cover is a magnificent end result. I encourage people to form their own interpretation based on what they see. A lot of symbolism there. The downfall of the priests who wade in their own shit, for example. It’s a surreal masterpiece. Nature collapsed… Apokalypse. It’s about how I see humanity nowadays, we destroy life/ nature, poison ourselves all through fast food, watch lies via Tv propaganda, etc. We work hard to fukk up everything and dig our own graves and destroy the earth.
How would you compare the material on this release to your previous material, on your latest album “Blood Magick Necromance” from 2011?
BLOOD MAGICK NECROMANCE was our most epic album to date. Elaborate arrangements, almost all songs over 6 minutes playtime, orchestrations etc. CONJURING THE DEAD isn't as polished and represents brutal Death with haunting, obscure melodies. In my opinion CONJURING THE DEAD is our most mature and serious album so far, but I don’t spend a lot of time comparing them.
In your time as musicians, what is your biggest musical achievement so far and what has been your biggest experience through the years?
Each time when we start a project we try to challenge ourselves, try to raise intensity and get the compositions on the next level. We've changed studios, producers, tried new things, it’s always exciting and the fire of passion to create extreme Musick keeps burning. Sometimes we are successful, sometimes not. I think this release is the one I’m most proud of.
Could we expect any European tour and maybe see the band in action here in Denmark any time soon?
In Europe we concentrate on festivals for 2014-2015. We are doing approximately 20 open airs indoor festivals this year. Norway, Sweden, Jakarta, France, Germania are already successfully conquered. There is a lot coming on the map like Japan, China, South Africa. Always great to march into new territories, big challenges. Mid-September through mid-October we’re doing our 9th North American tour. First time that we headline a full tour in the US, direct support is from our Greek Metal brothers in ROTTING CHRIST. BEHEADED from Malta and SVART CROWN from France are also a part of the bill. At the end of the year, a festival tour through South America. Each BELPHEGOR concert is a surprise man, we are known for brutal stage rituals, and still celebrate Diabolical Death Metal. Many great places offer outstanding crowds, especially those who do not often have brutal bands arriving on their fronts.
It’s about time to return to Denmark, I hope we can come back and presents tracks off the new album in a live situation. That would be great, man. We will add REX TREMENDAE MAJESTATIS, the fastest hyperblast slasher BLACK WINGED TORMENT, GASMASK TERROR and CONJURING THE DEAD to the setlist. The title track and REX TREMENDAE MAJESTATIS will be a challenging song in a live situation.
What would be the ultimate tour, festival or show for you to play at?
Indoor festivals/open air are a great thing, we did so many the last year. Hellfest, Wacken, Brutal Assault, Graspop, Leyendas Del Rock, Bloodstock to name a few. It’s just great, we really enjoy shredding those big stages and firing our tracks at the audience with uttermost brutality.
Do you have any breaking news with the bands?
I want to let everyone know the limited digipak edition contains a bonus Dvd, with a running time over 70 minutes, for die-hard BELPHEGOR soldiers it’s a must have. You get to see studio, recording making of’s, Metal traveling, our rehearsal cave bunker with Mr.Swinefever and six live tracks.
That’s all we’ve get this time, do you have anything that you'd like to add or say?
It's unreal to me when I look back on my band, my career, man. I was allowed to travel the world a few times, visited loads of magickal places, shredded a shitload impressive-brutal shows, played with almost all the "living" bands that I like and met so many interesting people worldwide, a pleasure and I am thankful for it. Live fast, die young..
Guys, invade your local store and check out the new album. I also want to say thank you to all people for the tremendous support over the years. You rule.
We would like to say thanks a lot for your time. And we wish all you guys all the luck in the future whatever it might bring.
Thanks for the space, Fred. See you all on the road..
- Band/Kunstner: Belphegor
- Interview med: Helmuth Lehner (Guitar & Vocals)
- Interview dato: Fredag, 01 August 2014
- Samarbejdspartner: Nuclear Blast Records