by Ana Krunic
VANCOUVER – If you’ve ever had the chance to see Austria’s Belphegor perform live, you know it’s not something you easily forget. It’s a perverse and blasphemy-ridden tour-de-force, but it doesn’t really feel like they’re “putting on a show” for the audience. Everything from their aesthetic, to their particular kind of blackened death metal, to the blood that soaks anyone within a few rows from the stage, comes together quite naturally.
Speaking with the man behind all of this, guitarist and frontman Helmuth Lehner, confirms the suspicion that this stuff isn’t really a façade that goes down after the show is over. To him, and anyone in the audience, the shows are a ritual.
“A Belphegor ritual is like letting demons out to dance. We do everything authentically: the blood is real, the bones [are real], the feeling is real, the intensity is real. It’s a ritual more so than a typical metal concert,” Lehner explains. “As soon as I hear the intro, smell the incense, my mind switches to another zone or reality and I descend into another realm. I adore spiritually leaving my body for plus one hour during a Belphegor stage performance, letting the demons take over and get into total possession with the music, it’s a pleasure.”
Lehner continues: “I almost cum if the ceremony is great and the audience gets crazy and wild, glorifying Lucifer with us, it’s magic.”
They’ve been through some trials over the years – the worst of it being when Lehner nearly dying after coming down with Typhoid fever from drinking tainted water while on tour in South America.
More recently, last year he was attacked by an orthodox Christian activist at an airport in Russia. The band’s themes include a lot of eroticism and deeply held anti-religious sentiment, which has given them a lot of trouble when it comes to censorship.
“I don’t see us as a victim,” says Lehner. “[It’s the] opposite, the world saw how dangerous these people are and how hypocritically they act. If they get power, every non-conforming book, all that is art and freedom of speech will burn again. Under all circumstances we have to avoid people like that getting in power. I mean Belphegor is not just a band, it’s a legacy and a way of life. I made a ‘pactum in aeternum.’ We can’t let these deranged minds get us down.”
Their newest release, Totenritual, brings an even darker and more down-tuned sound to the table. Lehner goes over a couple of the new tracks: “‘The Devil’s Son’ deals with the life story of Niccolo Paganini, written from his point of view. His virtuoso inhuman playing, unusual long limbs and nimble fingers led people to the idea that he must have been possessed and had a pact with the devil. Then ‘Baphomet,” [named for] the creator of everything, deals with the duality of life — man to woman, fire to water, human to demon, etc. It’s about will, discipline to develop as human, sex magick, and self-creation.”
Belphegor perform at the Rickshaw Theatre (Vancouver) on November 28 with Cryptopsy, Hate and Kafirun.belphegor, cryptopsy, helmuth lehner, Rickshaw Theatre