What do you get when you cross a werewolf with a goat? If you guessed “39 minutes of barbaric blackened death metal,” congratulations and welcome to a world where the only thing more bestial than the music is the sexual activity it describes. This Portland trio formed in 2009 and have been peddling their depravity in the underground with a couple prior splits and EPs, most notably 2013’s Slave Bitch of the Black Ram Master (which, if the artwork is any indication, may actually be using ‘ram’ as a verb). Pestilential Rites of Infernal Fornication is the band’s debut full-length, and it makes no attempt to halt the NSFW onslaught that has earned them previous comparisons to Blasphemy, Diocletian, and of course, Archgoat. Now I know you’ve been ogling that cover art this whole time, so put that red rocket away until the next full moon and let’s explore just what Weregoat have to offer.
If you’re at all familiar with the bands name-dropped above, the sonic foundation of Rites should come as no surprise. This is music whose sound is smoldering and bone-dry, balancing inflammatory riffing with garbled, animalistic rasps produced by one ‘Nocturnal Hellfuker.’ It may come as a shock, but there are also blastbeats on this album. ‘Bludgeoning’ and ‘punishing’ are two oft-used adjectives in this subgenre, and drummer ‘Sadoseducer’ definitely does them justice by pummeling every piece of his kit like it stole his bubble gum and slept with his girlfriend. Indeed, after the three minutes of battering opener “Goatlust Invocation,” I think I know exactly what I’m in for with Rites, and it’s nothing that’ll get my willy stiff anytime soon.
And yet amidst the aural abuse, a level of nuance and variety begin to develop that is frankly astonishing given the record’s depraved themes. Part of it is the fearsome and perverse atmosphere that Weregoat conjure, but it goes beyond that. The guitar-work of axeman ‘Lecherous Agressor’ is downright maniacal, rejecting downtuned murk in favor of discernible riffs and whipping tremolos that lash out like the salacious tongue of that horny lycanthrope up there on the cover. Early highlight “Osculum Infame” stands out for its frantic and thrashy main riff, while follow-up “Molested by Evil” features skewered notes that sound like one of Robert Vigna’s warped Immolation melodies played three times fast. The album’s crown jewel, however, is easily “At Full Moon She Bleeds,” which charges into a refrain comprised of descending black metal riffs followed by a scream of the track title, after which a set of twisted notes explode forth with a speed that would make even Origin question their abilities.
Even the drumming contributes to the impact. Aforementioned “Molested” is built around a slow galloping groove that’s downright infectious, while “Screaming Forth…”1 barrels along with repeated staccato chords that recall the primal nature of Revenge. “Forked Tongue Lashes between the Virgin’s Thighs” and “As Cold As the Devil’s Seed” add variety by slowing the tempo, the former with its doomy opening and the latter with its ambling, waltzy pace. Embellished by wild solos that squeal and squawk with just a hint of melodic flourish, this is not a record with obvious flaws. In fact, my biggest complaints about Rites are things that can be said about almost any album in this subgenre: the battering does feel a bit monotonous after a while, and the riffs don’t always feel entirely distinct from one another.
Still, when one can look at the tracklist and remember at least one great idea from almost every song, you know you have a winner. Part of it may be the pedigree: in addition to Weregoat these three gents have performed in several other bands in the Portland area and beyond, including Engorged, Sempiternal Dusk, Nightfell, and Ritual Necromancy. Point being, they seem to understand this subgenre is more than just bashing downtuned chords until you can’t tell the difference between your garbage disposal and the new Teitanblood album. The result is a record that’s devilishly fun and even catchy, not to mention crafted with more care than its artwork of an oversexed goat-man would suggest. For those not put off by the sound or imagery, you may find Weregoat awakens a part of you that you didn’t know was there. A hairy and sexually-depraved part maybe, but no one said blackened death metal was supposed to be pretty.