“Dissonant, Milling, and Sinister”
From Legacy Magazine Issue number 083, February 2013 (originally published in German)
An insidious bout of Typhus illness not only radically turned the life of Belphegor Frontman Helmuth Lehner inside-out, but also the future plans of the band. On the new upcoming album with the working title, “Chapter X”, instrumentals are currently being completed in the studio of Hate Eternal Head, Erik Rutan, in the U.S. [but] for the vocal recording thus far Helmuth simply lacks the strength.
Not only must the expected release date be moved from March to August or to September, also up until then serious alterations are on the agenda. At the last concert since his illness and the heart operation, given the circumstances Helmuth had a totally different perspective. “I was limited in so far as I still couldn’t undertake the main vocals again. On the one hand, I’m going back on the stage with caution as always, but I enjoy it so much that I’m “allowed” to lay ruin live again. Earlier, we played 120 shows or more in a year. That was an awesome time, but that is in the past. For our 20-year anniversary, I’m planning plus-or-minus 50 rituals this year.”
This Goat-awful turn-of-events crept up on the unholy band in Autumn, 2011 on tour in South America, “I still delivered the first eight shows on stage, but after the third it started going hellaciously downhill. Then, it was no longer possible for me to even hold my guitar, but I did make the mistake and I flew further to Venezuela, where it still hadn’t registered with me that it was the end, and I still thought that I would [perform] again. So I carried the Typhus illness over a week, which totally fukked my lungs up [because] they were saturated with the virus. I had already played shows with a 40 degree [C] (104 degree F) fever, and it banged me about on stage and after ten minutes I was back out there playing again. But this time, it was no longer possible. My soldiers had already played two shows without me. I was in Colombia already lying in the hotel bed in feverish delirium, and a doctor who couldn’t speak any English was slamming random injections in my backside. In countries like Colombia or Venezuela one cannot simply cancel a show; they’d lynch the promoter.”
As the songwriter, no other alternatives other than pulling strings in the background would be in the question. “I never thought about this situation [occurring]. Everything could have an ending at any time. With Belphegor I’ve laid an imprint in extreme Metal-Hell, and I’m very proud of all that I’ve achieved. I have traveled the world often and through that have had a very intense and interesting life. I could fill books.” Helmuth breaks down the present recording of the tenth Belphegor album thusly: “I’m a fighter. But after two days I had to advocate for myself, that it wasn’t exactly the performance that I want to attain. [The range of] my vocals is as always very diverse, I try a lot of rumbling choirs, grunts, screams, etc. that were not possible. I have specific visions in mind in order to fully realize [the end product]. The volume, sustain [level], aggression are still not there. It is important to me that my vocals sound emotionally offensive; these rumbling-grunts or annoying Hardcore-Death-Squeals would be too boring for me on a Belphegor album. So, surrender for the moment. We are always experimenting with what’s there, what happens to be in our external surroundings is also inside [the sound of the album]: Belphegor soon to be a sound-storm. . .TNT. That will not change! So far, everything is finished except for the vocals. A violent massacre: dissonant, milling, and sinister. The entire new album for me is more than just a harder way, it’s a test. It had already began to get difficult in the pre-production with the guitar, where I often had to pause because the energy just left me. Erik showed annoyance and can motivate, without him it would not have been possible. The guitars sound to you like they were never so tight and dynamic as on this album. “Chapter X” sounds organic, very earthy, and much more aggressive than the other LP’s. That was the master plan. Epic, more sinister, Death-lead!”
The doctors advised Helmuth against getting back too fast to a full [work] load. “Maybe it would have been better to wait a bit longer—but after such a journey what’s most important is for one to have a goal. With that, I put myself out there again. Serpenth (bass) and Marthyn (drums) flew over [to the States] in June 2012 and have already recorded all their parts. I still could not then [because] I shouldn’t have boarded an airplane. So I went over there for about 2 weeks in August and November and laid down the guitar tracks. I can already reveal some particular tracks: “Gasmask Terror”, “Rex Tremendae Majestatis”, “Lucifer, Take her!”, and “The Inverted Cross”. The last song that I’ve named comes with two vocalists. My favorite black metal vocalist sings both the choruses, my favorite death growler [does] the stanzas, and I will take on the rest. Brutal-chaos song treasury. “ Meanwhile, Helmuth sees a sun at the end of the horizon. “So about a year before the operation, I had already started to notice that something wasn’t right. I was often weak and tired—but naturally I didn’t notice the signs and continued further with the excess. In the hospital, yeah, I thought it was all over. Often, it ends differently, ‘An honor, this horror. . .’”
So far, one can set their sights on the next Belphegor anniversary being a quarter of a century of Belphegor. “Fukk. Who knows, man. . .these last 20 years for me are totally unreal,” Helmuth laughs, “It’s always getting better, everything is moving on very slowly. I hate this turmoil, but it has changed so much, and a good thing needs time. I just want to give 666%; that is what we owe the demons who support Belphegor. This time, no journalist at least can complain that in all of 14 to 16 months there’s a Belphegor Monster coming to the market.” A continuation of a conversation with Helmuth about his fight against the Typhus virus and his recovery after the operation that gave him an artificial heart valve can be found on our homepage [see this link here for English translation of that article: here ] http://www.legacy.de.