Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Belphegor - Bondage Goat Zombie


My two favorite Belphegor albums are Bondage Goat Zombie and Blood Magick Necromance. Today, I’m just going to talk about Bondage Goat Zombie because its qualities are easier to put into words than the more complex Blood Magick Necromance. Although black death is a HUGE genre, it’s actually fairly simple. There are the bands that have more death metal than black metal (Behemoth, Goatwhore, etc.), and there’s the bands that have more black metal than death metal (Belphegor, Setherial, etc.). Although the bands that have a little more death metal seem to be better, Belphegor still sticks out to me as being an extremely important contributor to both the black metal and death metal genres.

This album in particular is Belphegor’s most unique and unusual release to date. The different kinds of experimentation with Pantera-style groove and Marduk-style brutality as well as other forms of experimentation and fusion that I will mention later have really had an impact on how I view both black metal and death metal music. Although I like to think of them as more black metal than death metal, there’s a shitload of both sides tightly packed into this record. One thing that I should mention is that when people think of black death, they think of INSANE brutality like Behemoth, Setherial, and Goatwhore (especially Behemoth and Goatwhore). The gist of Belphegor’s sound is NOT pure brutality. These guys are known for taking a more experimental and calmer style of black metal, but I’ll remind you that they’ve done plenty of extremely brutal material; but they’ve made it so that it’s not a huge ingredient of their basic sound.

Probably the place where you can hear the death metal side the easiest is in the vocals. The choice of primarily using growls instead of screams is what gives this album most of its death metal feel. But as well as in the vocals, you get a death metal feel from the rhythm guitars. This layer of sound is thinly spread across every second of the album, as well as some Nile influence in Justine: Soaked in Blood. The groove sound is mostly in my favorite song off the album, Sexdictator Lucifer. To be honest, Pantera isn’t the best example to describe the type of groove Belphegor uses in this song. The type of groove in Sexdictator Lucifer has a heavy rock sound that is really slow, thick, and sludgy. As well as that out-of-place sound and the moans of The Lord’s female servants, you get to hear more black metal-style vocals than death growls. Even though this song sounds nothing like anything else on the album, I would highly recommend that you look it up because it really is something unique.

One thing that I have a problem with all pre-2011 Belphegor albums is that the treble tends to be overwhelming. This album has the best balance between the treble, mid-range, and bass, but it still has the potential of getting irritating. There are some parts that sound like they have a metalcore influence. This isn’t a bad thing, but it doesn’t really fit the music; which is probably why this is the only album you hear it in. But hey, I’ll give them credit for experimenting a bit with metalcore, as well as BEING SMART and realizing that it probably wasn’t the best thing to implement into their sound.

Giving this record an 18/20, Belphegor has yet to seriously disappoint me. I would highly recommend this to fans of Setherial, Behemoth, Goatwhore, (obviously) Belphegor, and black metal fans. I would also recommend it to people who are into some of the darker death metal bands and melodic death.