The Last Supper

Belphegor

Mercenary Musik / WWIII Records, 2001

http://www.belphegor.at

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 01/31/2002

Austria's Belphegor might be considered one of the legends in the field of black metal, and from the looks and sounds of their 1995 major-label debut The Last Supper they sure seem serious about the subject matter they're writing about, I'm left with a sense of déjà vu in regards to many aspects of this disc.

Recently re-issued in America with a selection of tracks culled from two independent releases earlier in the '90s, I found myself in an unenviable position of trying to figure out what ground they were breaking back then. It wasn't the Satanic aspect; dozens upon dozens of bands had capitalized on that by 1995. It wasn't the speed-metal aspect. Indeed, this far removed from its debut, it's kind of hard to see the forest for the trees in regards to Belphegor's impact upon the music scene - kind of a "guess you had to be there" approach, if you will.

That said, The Last Supper has some moments which demonstrate just why this group developed a strong following, as well as how much room the group had to grow musically.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Memo to the band: if you're going to do a cover of "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath," how's about keeping the music and the growled lyrics somewhat close to what the original tune was, huh? There were times I had to wonder whether I was indeed listening to the same song as the title claimed I was. Ah, well - I guess that's just a personal preference, as all the die-hard fans of death metal (and especially Belphegor) will remind me in the days and weeks to come.

The Last Supper is not always the tightest musical ship afloat in a genre which tends to have too many boats crowded into the same harbor. Yet there are times when one has to wonder why this group hasn't become legends in the world of death metal. Tracks like "Bloodbath In Paradise," "The Rapture Of Cremation" and "A Funeral Without A Cry" all are wonderful examples of how powerful and enjoyable this style of music can be - as well as how intense things can get. Deciphering the vocals is a bit tricky, but one really doesn't need to know what the lyrics are to understand that Belphegor isn't singing about cake and flowers.

If only the whole album was as strong; other tracks, such as "Drowned In Excrements" and "Engulfed In Eternal Frost" just don't live up to the same expectations. And while the inclusion of older tracks is supposed to be an added bonus to the fans outside of Austria who are now discovering this group, sometimes the different styles of music (occasionally the older tracks are a tad slower) doesn't help the listener get a solid grasp on just who Belphegor are as a band. For that matter, I don't think they had come into their own just yet - and I admit I still have to listen to the reissue of Blutsabbath to get the full picture.

In the end, The Last Supper is an occasionally satisfying, if not a tad confusing, first glance at a band who are just now beginning to come into their own. Fans of the death metal genre will undoubtedly latch onto this disc as one of the Holy Grails of this musical style. For the rest of us, it has its moments, but I'd dare say there are better discs to get one's feet wet with.

2002 Christopher Thelen and "The Daily Vault". All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Mercenary Musik / WWIII Records, and is used for informational purposes only.

Rating: C+

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© 2002 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Mercenary Musik / WWIII Records, and is used for informational purposes only.