Review by Sonny for Cultes des Ghoules - Henbane (2013) Review by Sonny for Cultes des Ghoules - Henbane (2013)

Sonny Sonny / September 11, 2019 / 1

The first thing that strikes me about this album is the somewhat unconventional tone of the guitars for a black metal album, sounding more akin to the tone of old-school death metal such as Autopsy, even down to the "looseness" of the playing. Add to this the ritualistic rhythms of the drumming in many places that give the album a genuine occult atmosphere and you do indeed have a unique black metal experience that, despite this, is still very much in the realms of black metal - the vocals in particular are especially tortured and unhinged-sounding (the deranged howls during The Passion of a Sorceress are indeed something to behold). In fact vocalist Urian's performance is possibly one of the most disturbed and disturbing I've heard since Silencer's Death Pierce Me - from demonic growls to piercing shrieks and the afore-mentioned demented howling this sounds like an artist on the edge (of sanity!)
There is a nice variation in pacing of the material, the creeping, crawling of Vintage Black Magic owes as much to doom metal as it does black metal and as such it adds an extra level of heaviness to the song. In fact the album as a whole feels more like a bludgeon than the usual sabre-like slashing and slicing of conventional black metal, even on the faster, more feral-sounding tracks like Festival of Devotion.
Overall this album is a great attempt to do something a little different with black metal that feels like the band have stamped something of their particular personality on the recording that goes beyond mere entertainment and into the realm of genuine self-expression (and presumably some kind of personal catharsis). What's particularly great about it for me as the listener is that I can't for the life of me pick out one particular favourite track - they are all brilliant, each in it's own way.

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