It's one thing to worship Satan. It's another to hate Jesus with the festering disgust of Austrian black-metal outfit Belphegor. In a genre in which over-the-top blasphemy is the whole point, it says a lot that Belphegor can push desecrating (and even defecating on) the cross to a new level. If ever there were a cake to be awarded for hating Jesus, maggot infested and made of rotting Christ flesh as it would be, Belphegor would probably take it in spite of the stiff competition. Songs like "Lucifer Incestus" and "Swarm of Rats," which equates Jesus with rat shit, illustrate the band's sole preoccupation in no uncertain terms. For example, even as vocalist Helmuth gargles in German on the pricelessly titled "Sexdictator Lucifer," you know exactly what he's talking about.

Just in case, though, audio samples — the perfectly timed orgasmic moan of one of Satan's concubines, a pleased growl (or is it a burp?) from the Dark Lord himself after a round of coitus with said concubines — drive the point home with an utter lack of irony that's both admirable and howlingly funny. For additional clarity, the band-name logo contains not one but two upside-down crosses. Once an unthinkable crossover, blackened death metal is common these days, but Belphegor's blast-soaked sound still sounds passionate while the rest of the goat-herding pack goes through the motions of what has essentially become a Satanic mime routine.

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Saby Reyes-Kulkarni