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In the last few years, Austria's number one black/death metal band might have lost some fans because, to say it ironically, they started to write really great songs that are atmospheric, melodic and easy to listen to. Their songs got everything that an oldschool underground cvlt death or black metal fan can easily hate and what the most extreme music fans can appraise. They have the ability to expand their fan base with each full-length and I think they deserve to get more and more new supporters. That's because since 'Goatreich – Fleshcult' they've been through a huge progression, they've made a unique soundscape and that's what made me a fan of them.
After last year's album and the successful tour with Nile and Grave, Belphegor didn't hesitate so much, they started to write the sequel of 'Bondage Goat Zombie' instantly. And by sequel, I mean it literally, Walpurgis Rites can be truly mentioned as the second part of Bondage Goat Zombie in every aspect, with the song structures, the atmosphere and the quality. It can be noticed since the beginning of this album and if you listen to it carefully, you could find a match for each song from their previous full-length. I wouldn't be surprised if they wrote this album together with the previous one, because they are so similar. It's not a copy though, the riffs are different, only the atmosphere and the structures are the same. The 'Bondage Goat Zombie' album however contained a song, 'Justine – Soaked in Blood', which was the revisited version of the song 'Goatreich – Fleshcult', and was a highlight on that release. On this record, they wanted to write a 'Sexdictator Lucifer 2', called 'Der Geistertreiber', but if the original song didn't work, how would this do? Okay, it's a bit better then 'Sexdictator Lucifer', but still sucks, although, we laughed a lot on its video clip. I think it's still the weakest song of the album.
Of course, every Belphegor album consists one or two black/death metal classics, and so does this one. The best song is 'I Am Sin – Veneratio Diaboli', a good answer for all who say that Belphegor is boring or they lack of creativity. At least everyone should give this one a listen, and if they still don't like this because they are too oldschool or cvlt, I would recommend 'Destroyer Hekate' to them, the other best song on this release, or the 'Reichswehr In Blood'. The second one isn't as good as 'Destroyer Hekate' but it still reminds me the old Belphegor. I have to mention that we have another song which doesn't fit into the band's repertoire. It's the 'The Crosses Made Of Bone' with it's melodic death/thrash influences, I would expect songs like this from Illdisposed, not from Helmuth's band, but it's okay, it works. Most of the songs have more black metal influences than they had on 'Bondage Goat Zombie', but that's just a slight difference. But this would settle who will like 'Walpurgis Rites'.
It's obvious that it's not for the oldschool fans who had been let down by the post-'Lucifer Incestus' era, but I can recommend them the few mentioned songs too. But for those, who liked the last two releases of Belphegor, this effort wouldn't be a disappointment. It was really hard to rate it well, because I really enjoyed 'Bondage Goat Zombie', and this is quite similar to that. It's not weaker, nor stronger though. It has exactly the same amount of great moments and weak parts, and I won't give it a low rate just because I've heard an album with the same conditions. That one was rated at around 90%. Why would I give less for this?
( Originally written for: http://kronosmortus.hu )
Belphegor has become one of those dependable bands to merge their black and death metal influences into a unified, concussive Satanic force, and this is not a band to mince words, quite blunt in their attitude. Basically, when a new Belphegor album arrives, you know you are getting your ass kicked. But how hard? And how far?
Walpurgis Night - Hexenwahn is the band's 8th full length album, and I'd rate it a steady boot to tenderize both buttocks, but not enough to launch you out of the park. First, you've got to get past the punishing but boring door charge that is "Walpurgis Night" before you run into any interesting characters. "Veneratio Diaboli - I Am Sin" opens with a far better riff, graceful yet sinister, and converts nicely into a thrashing mayhem. "Hail the New Flesh" is a stop/start blastoff that converts into some huge, lunging groove rhythms. "Reichswehr In Blood" is a similar blaster to the opening track, but the riff is superior and has a pretty punishing bridge. As for the remainder of the album, I rather fancied the pumping thrash of "Der Geistertreiber" with its crepitating bass and verse vocals, as well as the gloomy smut of "Enthralled Toxic Sabbath".
Being Belphegor, you know the record will sound quite cutting, and it does in fact possess tones the equal of most anything in their back catalog. Helmuth sounds as diabolical as ever, and the drums and guitars clash well to create a frightening, occult mix through which the melodies stream like molten rivers of Hell. Those of you who are diehard fans of this Austrian troupe will not be so let down, even if the album isn't among their strongest efforts.
Another Belphegor album. Truth be told, originality is not something these Austrian lads are expected to show, and the new album has been awaited in similar spirit as well. The press release promised a fresher, renovated sound, more epic and so on.
That never happened. Not that the album is bad, far from it – it is a thoroughly enjoyable release, with loads of catchy riffs and classic Belphegor blasphemy, but then again, one can’t expect any fan to be occupied with their album for a longer period of time anymore. Belphegor have an unquestionably unique brand of black/death metal, with brutal rhythms and melodic hooks few can combine as well as them. But this time around, it’s all been seen and heard once too many. The truth is that the technical and compositional balance and perfection of Belphegor albums, as undeniable as it is, hasn’t been changed one bit since 2005’s „Goatreich/Fleshcult”. The band’s been on Nuclear Blast ever since, and their well-established style is obviously selling albums, but I really can’t see anyone excited about a new Belphegor album in the year 2010. The content is great, but the air’s getting stale. This band needs a dash of fresh air, and needs it immediately. Otherwise, they will drown their discography in interchangeable albums, songs and riffs.
This is good material and you should absolutely give it a spin, but I really can’t say that you’ll find it intellectually and musically engaging for an extended period of time. After all, this is Bondage Goat Zombie II, nothing more, nothing less.
(originally written for http://www.metal-sound.net)
To be sincere, I'm not that familiar with Belphegor and this is the first album I listen to for this band, all I know is that this is a new line-up for the band and they're worthy of a shot to see what these guys have got.
For years I used to think that true Black Metal is limited to Norway, Sweden and Finland, but while listening to the first few tracks of this album I knew that there's something wrong in the Natural Balance, I mean I was totally shocked when listening to the first 5 tracks, but when I reached the sixth one I knew that everything is just alright and the Natural Balance is not disturbed, why? Well they screwed here, but recovered well throughout the rest of the album.
The album starter is a typical Black Metal opening, a firm song, lyrically, musically, and the performance is good, and the delightful thing is that the song won't let you down with a bad solo or change in the attitude but will continue with the same rage till the end. As a whole the album is a true Black Metal album, the fast riffs and the outstanding drums that create the needed atmosphere for such a genre. Guitar solos in this album are so great too and really remind of some of Norway's best. The good chorus that is used in every song makes you long to hear it again and drive you to replay the song again and again and again.
Lyrics are so unique and serving well in the cause of the album, there's a mix between German and English lyrics which is so unique lyrical technique by itself. The good thing here is that the band has successfully used those simple, yet powerful, lyrics and made good rhymes.
Despite the fact that the music and lyrics are outstanding, the cover art work is good and the titles are good too but, the sixth song is a goddamn giant mid-finger for this album. This song is not Black Metal at all, it reminds a lot of the genre "Neue Deutsche Härte" like Rammstein, Oomph and the like of the German bands, and I really can't believe that a band like Belphegor who made such an album is responsible for this song. It's a real damn shame and that's why the album's got 89 out of 100.
In the end, the new line-up seems to be working it out so well and right, and I think Belphegor is really on the right direction.
Belphegor may have gotten rather the wrong idea when it comes to getting popular. Instead of following Behemoth's route of balancing made-for-the-masses brutality and excellent self-marketing with ever-improving songwriting, Belphegor decided to interpret Cradle Of Filth's method of becoming a caricature of yourself. Everyone has their opinion of Cradle Of Filth, usually to an extreme degree one way or another, but one thing I will say is that, like it or not, self-parody works for Cradle. It was sort of in them all along - a demo called Total Fucking Darkness, for example, does not exactly say 'poe-faced.' Neither does Bondage Goat Zombie, mind you. But becoming Black Metal clowns is not going to work so sweetly for Belphegor. While Walpurgis Rites: Hexenwahn features a more typically arcane-sounding-but-basically-incomprehensible Black Metal-ish title, its format is much the same as its predecessor.
A big problem with this album is its recurring failure to make you give a toss about anything happening during its runtime. The title track is nondescript. The melody played during the chorus section might have made for some excitement on the listener's part, if not for the limpness of the mix and the ineffectual vocals. 'Reichswehr In Blood' could well be the same few seconds of audio on a loop for all the diversity the song exhibits. Not that I am without my powers of discerning dense music; whilst I can quite contentedly spend some time sifting through the massive walls of drone on Sunn O)))'s and Boris' Altar, for example, I really can't find anything on this song that I would... even be able to describe, in fact. So there it is. Indescribably bland.
It is very questionable where Belphegor are getting their influences from at this point, and where they are hoping to take their music in the future. While I am not the sort of person to shout 'metalcore!' and start masturbating over my own Heavy Metal trueness at the mere sound of a band integrating some modern influences into their sound, there is something decidedly fishy about the riffs used on 'The Crosses Made Of Bone', which reinforces the theory I'm developing that Belphegor don't really have a clue what they are doing any more.
The album isn't without a few shinier lumps in the waterpipe, however. 'Veneratio Diaboli - I Am Sin' is actually quite ball-bashing, and serves up some solid enough Melodic BM. The same might be said for 'Destroyer Hekate' later on. But then, there's a bunch of weird laughing and retching from Helmuth, and church bells, all over the last two tracks. Weird laughing and retching and church bells are all good things to consider if you want to make some run-of-the-mill Satan music, but like so many other things on this disc they are just so abysmally irritating you can't take any of it seriously.
Returning to the Cradle comparison, as transparent as that band's popular songs are, it is at least clear what audience they are aimed at - you can tell what will appeal to the fans who wear a lot of black make-up, and have purple bedspreads, as opposed to what will appeal to the big strapping lads who wear Peace Through Superior Firepower T-shirts but haven't realized the slogan is intended to be tongue-in-cheek. With 'Der Geistertreiber', I really can't imagine who is supposed to be enjoying this song. It just sort of plods along, sounding less like the super-catchy singles Nuclear Blast normally have their flock put out than some sort of ungodly college-band Rammstein tribute. On what level it is supposed to persuade people to buy the album, being in no way representative of it nor at all a good song, is beyond me.
Last thoughts. Well actually, I'm liking the album cover, despite its general garishness it's got some style - at least, compared to the frankly confusing image which those who picked up the previous album were confronted with. It's an OK Black Metal album cover. This is not, however, an OK Black Metal album. In the words of Marcellus Wallace, right now, Belphegor are pretty fucking far from OK.
I went into this with high hopes but low expectations.
I practically worshiped their first three albums. My impression of Lucifer Incestus and Goatreich-Fleshcult was that they were less technically ambitious; they were in better command of their instruments by this point, but played slightly easier material (faster, though), relied more on synth and effects than before, etc. I liked them anyways. There were some catchy songs on those albums, and the outros (both outros on Goatreich) were the high points. And Pestapokalypse was just plain good, no complaints.
So after 6 solid albums, Bondage Goat Zombie was not what I expected, especially coming right after Pestapokalypse. I figured it was a misstep. Maybe a misguided attempt to go more mainstream, but with a name like that and a back catalog like theirs, good luck...
So I get Walpurgis Rites only a few days after the US release.
Cool cover art, check, but it reminds me Behemoth's Zos Kia Cultus. They've had much cooler covers, Lucifer Incestus topping that list for sure.
Opening track Walpurgis Rites starts good, sounds like it could be on anything post-LI. But there's something off, recognizably held over from their last release. It doesn't sound mean like it should. The vocals are good but the effects do more harm than good. Then there's the overly-melodic chorus. I can appreciate what they're trying to do here, but it doesn't fit and they don't do that great a job at it... For comparison, Menhir (DE) do the highly melodic style very well. I like that kind of thing, but Belphegor make it sound silly. So far, so-so.
Second track, Veneratio Diaboli. This one's better, but still not up to their old standards. The vocal effects detract again. The opening 30 seconds are great, they may as well have not added all the verses and chorus. The solo at 5:30 caught my attention. It's got a great tone, but the rhythm comes back in too loud. Still good though. I really wish they had just made this into one of their great chanting-only instrumental tracks, kept the solo, and made it a couple of minutes shorter. Would have been great like that.
Hail The New Flesh. Sounds pretty uninspired. Moving on.
Reichswehr In Blood. This is ok, but again missing something. The best part is the last 40 seconds.
The Crosses Made Of Bone. Sounds like the weaker points of the last album.
Der Geistertreiber. Slower and again sounds like the last album. I saw the video for this one before getting the album, and couldn't believe it was real. Low budget be damned, remember the videos for Vomit Upon The Cross and Hell's Ambassador? Those were good. This video was not. The song is boring, but I admit the cool bass line made me listen to it more than once in the hopes I'd change my mind. Instead, I noticed a not-so-great sounding solo that I'd somehow missed before.
Destroyer Hekate. Step in the right direction. Blast beats, and the attempt a melodic parts are toned down and sound better. It's ok.
Enthralled Toxic Sabbat. Slow and boring. Sounds like it's going to start picking up when the tremolo picking comes in around 1:45, then doesn't really go anywhere. Around 2:20, the drumming picks up and I think again, ok, now's when it's going to start kicking ass. But then it doesn't go anywhere again, and then slows back down to a crawl. Should have known.
The closer is like Toxic Sabbat only even slower and more boring. Suddenly, the album is over.
I wasn't sure what I just listened to, so I listened to it again to make sure. Better than Bondage Goat Zombie? Yeah. Enough so to make it my second least favorite album in their catalog.
I kept thinking that this had all the key elements I loved about their older work. Unrelenting blast beats, a range of pissed-off-sounding vocals, tremolo picking, solos, a little synth without going overboard... But none of those things are like they used to be, except maybe the drumming. The vocals are too effected and sometimes it just sounds cheesy. The song structures are simple. The riffs tend to sound... happier? No, just not as mean. Shit, I don't know any music theory to explain in words what I'm hearing and what the difference is, but I know what I like and what I don't. Listen to some of these tracks. They've lost that evil feeling. There are fewer solos and only one really memorable one.
To make sure I wasn't going crazy, I went back to the beginning of the catalog. Well, almost. Bloodbath In Paradise was a demo, so I started at The Last Supper. Does it still sound as good as I remember? Hell yes. I can only imagine what this album would have sounded like if they'd had their later technical ability and higher production values. The closest thing to that we can get is their live album or going to one of their shows (assuming they don't push their new material too hard and still play a bunch of old stuff). Some of you may like this album, but generally speaking, those other two options are more worthy of your time and money.