Belphegor: “Tales from the Crypt” from Legacy Magazine (DE)

Tales from the Crypt:


Originally published on online articles in German on 03.01.13

                No, this tale doesn’t come from the crypt, but still one gets the feeling that Helmuth is “back from the dead”. The Belphegor lead lived through some hard times after his typhus infection in late 2011, such as the ones he has described in detail here. He’s allowed himself to halt work and his band hasn’t resumed work without him at all. For the time being, the tank must travel at a lower speed.

“20 Years of Belphegor” will–despite all the adversities–not just be celebrated by a special edition poster, rather the way it’s supposed to be—on the stage. “A CD launch party will be held at the Metal Orgy Fest in Braunau, Austria (Oberösterreich region) in September. We’re working right now on a 20-years exclusive merch design that will be available at the end of March at the Open Airs. We’re playing specially selected Opens airs and festivals like the Bloodstock fest in the UK, SWR in Portugal, the Meh-Suff in Switzerland, [and] the Steelfest in Finland. There will also be a few other events announced. Here and there, we will be filming: there will be a bonus DVD that comes with the new album with backstage footage, the new music video, and a “making-of” studio clip.” The release date for the upcoming tenth album will be in early August around the same time Wacken happens (N: the release date of the album is actually April 2014). “Yeah, Wacken would be interesting and to return [to play] there again this time. I believe, we were there in 2006 and that was simply just brilliant! Wicked! That was one of the shows that you play and never forget. The global audience there is definitely something else entirely. “


Surely, Nuclear Blast was not irritated about the delay. However it was said: “Not ideal. But you must be happy with the album—take the time that you need.” Not all artists during hard times experience this kind of support. “Andy Siry, our A&R from Nuclear Blast, didn’t pressure me, he also didn’t after I had to delay for a second time. Nothing from Blast. Because of that, I think of the company very highly.” The older the metal grows, the more frequent sickness and deaths become. The passing away of Chuck Schuldiner and Quorthon, but also the fights Chuck Billy and Nergal gave overcoming difficult illnesses in recent times, have moved extreme-metal. “Obviously, I was preoccupied with such. But one cannot take this into account, that you’ll end up in such a difficult situation yourself and your life is torn apart.” Surely, it’s difficult for someone to discuss bodily and mental problems openly. Those affected must first come to terms with themselves concerning their sudden limitations. “It’s not hard to talk about it, Overall, where I turn up it starts with, “How are you doing”, which is cool. But before, it was “Do you want a Jack and coke or do you want to start with a beer? Or both?” Haharrrrr. Mentally, like physically the whole time was a nightmare of pain, despair, and fear. [It was so] particularly in the first four months, I stopped living—zombie phase.”

Helmuth as a role model and counsel for others affected by illness is an unusual prospect for everyone. “Musicians get sick also. I received a lot of emails, and still more after I was out of danger of dying, that helped me and bolstered me back up on my legs to continue further. I gave myself small goals. The first one was definitely being able to play guitar again.” Until now, depictions of Pest epidemics and other suffering to Belphegor were something historical and abstract. Will Typhus end up a subject in the lyrics? “No, it will not. That shit has driven me to my knees enough already. I still had for about a week after my operation very bad fever attacks and visions. I saw everything that was going on from my place in bed. These five days in intensive care. . .if I had a gun, an alternative there! I couldn’t handle this new situation; I was always strong and in control, specifically regarding my body, my decisions. I had five fat tubes in my breast near the stomach that hung from machines. I lost 12 kilos (26 lbs.) and was simply at the end.” The heart operation, after which Helmuth received an artificial heart valve made of metal to call his own, was not just a consequence of the Typhus illness, “I think I wouldn’t have made it much longer, actually I was feeling really good in the end, but who knows.”

“After six weeks in the hospital, six weeks in the rehabilitation center, I want to thank everyone who had something to do with me—Doctors, nurses, staff. My blood-brother, Barth, who pressured me and brought me to the hospital; and Alexandra, my girlfriend, who stood by me through this hard time and didn’t leave me. Without the both of them, I wouldn’t probably be here. Naturally, also all the people who motivated me and left me “Get well soon” wishes. Half a year before the operation, I had already noticed that something wasn’t right and I was often vapid and tired. But I naturally didn’t take notice of the signs and indulged further in excess. I regret it, but I also don’t, I don’t want a false impression to arise here. I was allowed to see more than others would probably experience in ten lives. A few times in the Intensive care ward—three times—they sent me a priest: in case I would want to confess, pray, tralala, [or] whatever. These born-again Christians, who after one difficult setback get on their knees. Those are the worst sort, those who, after maybe 20 years of boozing  then want to convert people and condemn others and do not grudge the fun they’ve had.”

Setbacks are littered throughout the overall recovery process of the last few months. There was one after five weeks in the rehab clinic. “I took part in all the courses there. There was also a fitness studio [at the clinic], and despite the warnings from doctors, I gave it much too much effort and I spent a few hours every day in there. I was in the clinic for almost 7 weeks and my chest had also been sawed open, so there [in the gym] in some things I was inhibited. There I was then, with an additional program given to me after that with five more weeks added on to my stay [in the rehab clinic]. I pulled a nerve in my back, and I was stuck stumbling around on crutches for weeks. I had extreme pain, and yeah—there were days when I just couldn’t anymore and/or didn’t want to.”

That Helmuth was dealt this challenge and it changed his lifestyle, shows that to him, the bottom line is the music is more important than the image and the partying. Hence, there were few of these moments in which he wanted to completely give up. “I received a lot of positive energy from people, which made it clear to me that the peak [of my career] hadn’t run its course.” There was no Plan B to the music being the purpose of life and the means of sustenance. “I’m still not making big plans now. These Middle Class security net thoughts were never [present in] my way of thinking. Tomorrow someone can crack a goddamn atom bomb open on your skull.” Nevertheless, new rules on tour and in private are now in effect, “Total moderation, more restraint. Everyone who knows me knows that punishment is enough for me.  . .also I really miss my training with the weights, but also [not weight training] keeps me on track. There is no giving up.”

The question remains: will Belphegor be visiting South America again—with a dried biscuits reserve and a canister of mineral water? “Harhar. To date, I’ve set aside all proposals [to play in South America]. It’s not that I blame them—the opposite. It was not smart to drink water straight from the tap in Sao Paulo, but nobody told me otherwise. But that’s all still far away and I’m concentrating now on Belphegor in Europe and we will death-march over everything here.”

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