Published Apr 25, 2019Black metal's transformation from extreme outlier into campy cultural touchstone has been entertaining, to say the least. Belzebubs, a fictional band based on a webcomic about angsty corpse-painted millennials, is the sort of concept that would get you banned from most orthodox circles 15 years ago.
But tongue-in-cheek humour has prevailed. From Behemoth's latest output to the recent Lords of Chaos movie, black metal in 2019 is all about embracing the genre's inherent hilarity. In the same way Metalocalypse laid death metal's goony soul bare, Belzebubs find laughs in a scene built on over-the-top theatrics.
Musically, Belzebubs are truly "playing the hits." The true musicians behind this fictional band have kept their identities secret, but they are obviously practice what they preach. If you're the sort of metalhead who grew up on a diet of Dimmu Borgir and Children of Bodom, "Blackened Call" will practically make you sprout metal studs.
The album's longer numbers — "Acheron," "Dark Mother" and "Pantheon of the Nightside Gods" — harness the grandiose scale of black metal's best artists. "Dark Mother" singles itself out as a knockout cut. If there's one regret, it's that "Nam Gloria Lucifer" was released too late to end up on the Brütal Legend soundtrack. It would have fit right in.
By cranking the clichés up to 11, Belzebubs wound up spinning straw into gold. Armed with memorable songs and riffs, Pantheon of the Nightside Gods is about as perfect an encapsulation of black metal as you are likely to find today. It may have started as a fringe subgenre, but Belzebubs somehow feel like true arbiters of the scene. (Century Media)