Lunatic's Serenade

Facebook Twitter Google

Bloodless Child
Virgin Mod Club 11/12/15

Belphegor, a blackened satanic death metal band hailing from Austria, have undergone regular lineup changes since their inception in the early 90’s. The band’s founding member Helmuth Lehner has carried on through it all and Belphegor has enjoyed a recent resurgence - thanks in large part to the notable addition of a dynamic new bass player/vocalist stage-named 'Serpenth'.

Following the release of their most recent album “Conjuring the Dead” in 2014, Belphegor teamed up with renowned Canadian death metal outfit Kataklysm for a North American tour. Descending on Toronto’s Virgin Mod Club on November 12th, Belphegor played ahead of Kataklysm, the local heroes, on a far from sold out night that still featured all the stage theatrics, rambunctious pit activity and bludgeoning metal riffage one would expect from two well-established bands.

The show was opened by Bloodless Child, an energetic, upstart three-piece thrash-death outfit from London, Ontario, who played 6 or 7 songs and did a very good job of warming up the crowd. Bloodless Child’s sans-bass, two-guitar makeup that might well provide a complex layered effect in the studio unfortunately did not translate as well live, and though their songs were enjoyable, the intricate nuances and textures at times became an indistinguishable mash of squealing fuzz amidst the crash-heavy drums and dirty vocals.

By the time Belphegor took the stage some 20 minutes later the crowd had swelled significantly and now congregated at the front of the stage. Chants and hollers increased as the crowd grew anxious. Belphegor casually emerged in their battle armour and body paint and wasted little time delivering one pulse-pounding ode to the damned after another - this is not metal for the faint of heart and requires an open mind to appreciate. Their songs are ferocious, visceral and unforgiving in nature spanning topics of death, murder/suicide, self-induced insanity, the occult, and, perhaps most disturbingly, ritual slaughter and mass genocide.

Belphegor’s musicianship was remarkable nailing intricate gliss and screech effects, replicating their album sound with stunning accuracy. The insane pace of the snare relentlessly thumped every beat creating a trance-like effect along with the harmonized double guitars. Serpenth was the most animated of the quartet and engaged the crowd throughout while providing duelling vocals in the form of a possessed sounding, demonic snarl. Song highlights included their hit single “Gasmask Terror”, “Black Winged Torment” and the final song "Totenkult/Exegesis of Deterioration", a riveting new track from their yet untitled upcoming album set for release sometime next year.

“Belphegor teamed up with renowned Canadian death metal outfit Kataklysm for a North American tour.”

Belphegor played a tight but brief set of ten songs that was perhaps ample given the breakneck speed of their music - but I selfishly wished they had played a few more. Maybe their fingers were tired... Or maybe they were disappointed by the poor turnout and thus opted for a shortened set list.

Kataklysm took the stage shortly afterwards, and a quick scan of the room revealed that much of the crowd had vanished. Those who opted for an early night missed out on the real party. Kataklysm are fronted by the charismatic Maurizio Iacono, the metal mastermind who is also responsible for the side project Ex Deo, an equally ambitious concept act themed around the siege and conquests of the ancient Roman Empire. Maurizio drew cheers from the crowd for his boisterousness and at one point mused that he had consumed too much alcohol. If this was true it hardly seemed to affect his punishing growl as he belted out memorable head-banging tunes mostly off of their latest album Of Ghosts and Gods. Before playing their popular single (and set highlight) "Thy Serpent's Tongue" Maurizio implored those in attendance to "never change who you are" dedicating the song to "all those who have ever been betrayed". It’s always fun to learn the inspiration to certain songs directly from the artist, something you can only get from the live show.

The contrast in musical style and crowd interactivity between Belphegor and Kataklysm made for a fun and varied evening that in just a few hours featured a little of everything for metalheads of all walks: dirty low-fi thrashened metal, brutal satanic old-skool blackened death metal, and classic head-banging death metal. This night felt like an all-you-can-eat metal buffet: no salads, napkins or utensils.

Simon Crossley, HMS

Back to Lunatic's Serenade Menu