Interview with Helmuth Lehner, front man of Belphegor

‘Face-to-face interviews are usually tricky for Helmuth as he’s tourmanaging the band…’ So that’s how this interview started its career. Before embarking, front man of Belphegor replied some of our questions about Jackson guitars, Latin lyrics and also about the mountain surrounding his hometown. Don’t forget to catch them up on the 26th of April!

You are active in music since few decades. How you got interested in metal music?

My first encounter with rock and heavy metal was with Kiss, and AC/DC soon after. When I was a kid, there was a guy who brought the Dynasty album to school on MC Cassette and I became obsessed with the sound of the band, especially the guitar. To this day, I adore both bands. Back then, these were the so-called most dangerous bands and people feared rock and metal music, especially these two bands. Then fukking Black Sabbath came into my life and I was totally fascinated. Next, I discovered one of my all-time favorites, Motörhead (RIP Mr. Kilmister Lemmy). The glorious NWOBHM had a huge impact as well. Even Glam bands like Mötley Crüe, which I still listen to a lot. It was a different time without CD’s, mobile phones, the Internet, none of the consumer society things we have today. Anyway, we are preparing for a four-month-long tour. With Suffocation, we will march through Europe during April and May, followed by North America with Dark Funeral in May and June, then Japan in July with Taake and some open airs in-between and after Japan. There aren’t many bands around that are as intensely vicious as Belphegor. We’re burning and bring hellfire!

Have you ever learnt playing music, or that’s a self-development thing? Why you became interested in guitar, and not other instruments?

Guitar, violin, and piano are elite instruments, in my opinion. It’s the trinity of everything that is passion and pleasure. I could not list everything that drew me into heavy music and the lifestyle, but I can note some things down. I live and breathe guitar music and it’s one of the best things in life, there are so many talented musicians worldwide. Rock / metal music is just one of the best things in life. If I have any religion, I call it Musick. I had always wanted to play guitar, but my father wouldn’t give me money for it, so I saved up and get a really cheap second-hand guitar from a friend and started playing. It was more of an obsession than just an interest. Later on, I had a year of instruction from a guitar teacher. I will always regret that I sold my first guitar, it would be nostalgic to have my first axe on a wall and admire it before I go to bed. Sure, we all have idols or we respect people that did something special during our lives, but of course those we admire also change over the years, but the instrument stays forever, it’s almost like a close animal but won’t die.

You are known to use Jackson guitars. Why do you like them?

For what I do and create, Jackson makes the best instruments with really aggressive, but still organic tones. Since 2006 I have been endorsed by Jackson guitars and on all LP´s since Goatreich-Fleshcult, if I recall correctly, you hear Jackson axes. I, for example, tracked Totenritual with a custom USA Satin Blackout #201 with striking wood and impressive tone that has been my main axe for a few years now.

Often the lyrics have a mixed language (English and German with little Latin). What it depends on, which language to use? Where Latin is coming from?

Our lyrical content was always based on different aspects of the occult and other themes like blasphemy with an utmost perverted attitude. Also touched on nihilism in all our LPs, but in the end, we preach freedom, probably one of most important things in life, walking down your own path. Sometimes we use more languages in a track such as Apophis-Black Dragon. Each language has its own variable sound. We use a lot of spells / curses / chants, and do not translate them. Also, we have used German, my mother tongue, here and there since 1994 on the Obscure and Deep 7-inch vinyl single, the perfect language with hard pronunciation for giving orders and has an own effect and I dig it. Using several languages is a Belphegor trademark. Diaboli Virtus in Lumbar Est, as one of our song titles suggests you cannot separate the devil and black romantic. I am inspired by my travels, as I go with open eyes. I have seen many interesting things and met a lot of intriguing people, equally. I have always been fascinated by everything from horror to all that is abstract, the bizarre side of life. Your rules, your life, your world! That’s my philosophy, I must say.

Can you tell a bit about the way how you create songs? Is it a longer process, or does it emerge ready in your head?

Always depends. Mostly, it is a long and intense process because I dig rearranging and refining until I’m pleased with the track. So from the moment I start composing until completion and being recorded for an album, there is a long process and many full moons pass by. We take everything that we do seriously.

Are there any non-metal genres or bands you would say influenced your musical taste? Do you listen to any non-metal music?

I adore classical composers and flamenco guitars. Both share aspects with death / black music in my opinion, archaic, dynamic, and exalted. It’s magnificent to see how they play the guitar – and I wish I could play acoustic guitar like that. And I don’t say that out of jealousy, but appreciation. It gives me goosebumps to hear these talented, genius people playing, it’s inspiring and beautiful. I learned a lot from one of my all-time favorite styles in Metal, the glorious NWOBHM. Some guitarists that for sure influenced my playing and had a deep impact are: Randy Rhoades (RIP), Eddie Van Halen, Trey Azagtoth, Yngwie Malmsteen, Gary Moore (RIP), Jeff Hanneman (RIP), Kerry King, Downing / Tipton, Eddie Clark (RIP), Jimmy Page and Chuck Schuldiner (RIP). I can say thank all of these artists that made my life so much better by giving me goals to get me through the hard times.

Are you planning to release any new material (full studio album / EP) in the near future? Can you share some details with us please?

Yes, we already have several ideas and arrangements for this coming full length hellstorm, number 12. Serpenth and I have started writing new music last October for the new album and plan to start rehearsing after touring and the open air season in mid August. At the moment, we are entirely focused on upcoming tours. So don’t expect a release before 2020 for the time being. We are allowing the creativity to flow, uninterrupted by outside influences. We will see where the music guides us this time, while our demonic muses hover above us.

You are known to like solitude and the mountains near your hometown. Why do you like the nature and hills?

I am a very private person since my near-death experience in 2011, and I had to change a lot of things. I’ve taken up a calmer disposition for the sake of my health, too. I’m inspired by everything I see and experience. I dig what I’m doing and feel grateful. You know, I’m thankful that I could return and still able to play guitar and can create music. I’m way more focused nowadays, channeling my energy / visions in things that are important for me, and I don’t waste time on things I don’t like. I adore nature and silence and enjoy the landscapes of Austria, it is a beautiful country and I enjoy living there and solitary. But of course, I traveled the world a couple of times and I see all those magical places what the earth has to offer and it’s just fantastic and an honor to do so. I always learn a lot during my travels around the globe, and I am fortunate to have experiences which improve my perspective and inspire me. Who doesn’t like nature? During times when people lost everything and brainwashed sheep are wandering the earth like an epidemic, it’s good to be hermetical in your own Reich and make your own decisions far away from the mob. I adore solitude to reload my batteries and all. When we travel the world, there is so much action and all goes so fast and the opposite of nature, being solitary in general or with good company. I’m not into all this superficial mass consumer society bullshit, also very seldom watch TV because I avoid propaganda and don’t believe them anything anymore. I even prefer to live away from big cities and live outside surrounded by huge mountains.

Lyrics, symbols and corpse paint shows a strong anti-Christian and/or anti-religious attitude. Why are you against Christianity and religion?

It’s against some aspects of humanity, and of course, Christianity is one of the worst parasites that is still present. Institutions and religion in general, aren’t a good thing in my opinion. Censorship is everywhere, often in the name of Christianity. Years ago, we’ve had LP’s banned because of the album cover artwork, also wasn’t allowed to play some songs, what is just insane and shows how degenerated some people are. We’ve also been banned from playing certain places, so there has always been controversy, and that won’t change. But as much as there is opposition, there is support. We are enemies to the cross and don’t pray or kneel before the cross. Totenritual, the last album we released 2017, we dedicated them a track, titled Swinefever-Regent of Pigs. I had many chances during my life to learn and know that real life is way stranger than any fiction.

What does the music, and what does black death metal mean to you?

Belphegor always played the brutal metal of death with black metal influences. We still take our work very seriously. I meant it when I said our supporters deserve the best. It’s unreal to me that we’ve been doing this for around 25+ years now, and I don’t have any plans to stop as long as people support us and as long as my health will allow me to travel the planet in the name of extreme metal. Making your visions a reality is magic. Never give up on what you want to do in life, it’s the best attitude to have. Motivate yourself, practice and leave your comfort zone. I enjoy lifting weights and hitting the gym, it shows me my limits. I often need to discipline myself, going there even when I don’t want to and have 10+ excuses in my mind as reasons not to. Fuck your inner weaknesses, no pain no gain. Sometimes that works, other times it doesn’t, but failure is human. Regarding the band’s ‘magic’, Belphegor feels like an obscure project that possesses me to this day.

Thanks for your time!

Thank you for the space, man. Regards to the Hungarian Metal community, don’t miss this Ritual, we are on fire and can’t wait to return with this amazing package (26/04/2019, Budapest). We hope to see you all on the road. An honor – this Horror.

Written by Á

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