Metalcamp - 2011

Text: Tobias Nilsson Photo: Lunah Lauridsen

Believe it or not, but Belphegor was the first band for of the day.
It’s easy as apple pie to see that this is one band that deserves to play in the dark of night, and that the image does falter some when brought into the blazing warmth and light of the afternoon sun. This was not going to stop us from seeing this Austrian death-machine (yes I know there is someone else out there who claims ownership of this title as well, but tough luck).

”Burn in hell Tolmin!”
- Hel ’Helmuth’ Lennart (vocals/guitar)

One of the first things I noticed was that the band had toned down their stage setup somewhat since our last encounter. The bones were all there still, but it seemed like they had been stripped of the flesh. Of course, this would have been pretty rancid by now, and on top of that having it hanging out in the warmth equalled some nasty images (and smells most certainly!) even this band couldn’t bear put us through.
The band was there though, covered in blood just as they should be, and Helmuth even donned a small dagger in his belt which I haven’t seen there before.
But it’s not all about the get-up is it? No, the performance is also important, and it was easy to see that the members of the band were happy to be back at this Slovenian festival, despite shouts like the one starting this review and others among the same line (”Fuck you Tolmin” was used pretty frequently). It was never meant as hard as it sounded though, there was no mistake about that! When not blasting their Satan worshipping metal over the crowd so violently even the speakers bled, Helmuth had no problem speaking freely and happily to us between the songs. The contrast was striking, but it also helped to keep up the interest in the show, which otherwise might have run a risk of being a little bit monotonous.

The crowd didn’t show much of an interest in the band however, and even though a lot of people had met up at the stage there wasn’t much action going on. Arms and horns were raised to the sky, but mostly when it had been requested by the band, and the headbanging seemed a bit week compared to what would seem appropriate.
Maybe it was the work of said warmth, but the bands performance was a bit lacking as well. Yes, the music was just as devilish and wild as it was described further up, but apart from a bit of lazy headbanging there wasn’t much action seen in the band either. Couple this with the fact that their sound wasn’t really on top, for one thing the guitar sound was lacking for too much of the show to be acceptable, and you have a show which was struggling to keep itself going. The performance was lacking substance, and here I don’t just mean the lacking meat on the bone constructions, no I also mean the lacking meat on the stage. At Metalfest, Belphegor had had a girl parading around in a very revealing outfit for the finale of the show, but this was apparently another thing which had been censored away from this performance. What ended up holding it all together was the happy frontman, and his love for the festival was set in stone when we saw him stay on the stage long after his band-mates had left, only to chat some more with the people in the field.

This was far from the best performance I have witnessed by Belphegor, there were simply too many loose ends to give it a lasting impact, but on the other hand it wasn’t completely without highlights either. The music in itself worked well to kick-start the day, and the image of Helmuth growling obscenities with a smile reaching from ear to ear will stay with me for a long time.

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