Bondage Goat Zombie
If I had to pick a single word to describe Austria's Belphegor, that word would undoubtedly be persistence. For fifteen years now Belphegor have more or less been playing the same style of metal, but have been continually working at it and refining it year after year, album after album. In guitarist/vocalist Helmuth's words to me in a recent interview, “We don't change our style... It's always typical Belphegor but you always refine the style”. Such candour is a rarity in the musical world and could be seen in a negative light, but I prefer to find this admission admirable and a perfectly honest and straight to the point definition of the band's mission statement.
After the extremely high quality of the band's previous album, Pestapokalypse VI, the bar was set very high for Bondage Goat Zombie (I can't tell you how much I love that title), but having spent the better part of a couple of weeks digesting it I think it serves as a strong follow-up and a worthy addition to Belphegor's catalogue.
The opening half of Bondage Goat Zombie deviates very little from the trademark Belphegor sound. It isn't exactly a continuation of their previous album, but it does bear much of the same musical focus. This is also where the album is at its strongest with both the opening title track and the fantastic Stigma Diabolicum serving as the album's best songs (though these are closely followed by the understated yet oddly captivating closing track).
Much has been made of the fact that Bondage Goat Zombie is in fact a concept album that is loosely based around the works of the Marquis de Sade but the truth is that you wouldn't really know it until you get to songs like Sexdictator Lucifer or the closing track which feature samples of moaning and various bondage related noises, or of course the song Justine: Soaked in Blood - an obvious reference to the book.
Belphegor do attempt to change up the style on a few occasions during the album with songs like Justine: Soaked In Blood and Chronicles Of Crime both featuring Middle Eastern influenced scales and melodies, sounding like an amalgamation of Belphegor and Nile, whilst The Sukkubus Lustrate features shall we say, an interesting attempt by Helmuth to offer some clean vocals.
So really, all in all, Bondage Goat Zombie is pretty much what you would expect from Belphegor; nothing more and nothing less. At this stage I'm still undecided whether I like Bondage Goat Zombie more than the band's previous album, Pestapokalyse VI, but every time I listen to it I do find myself enjoying it just a little more than the last time.
I have no qualms about recommending Bondage Goat Zombie, provided that you aren't walking into the album expecting that the band has somehow shifted their sound or pushed it more than superficially into new areas - this is a Belphegor album after all.
(Nuclear Blast Records/Riot! Entertainment)