|Review: Cultes des Ghoules - Häxan|
Label: Hells Headbangers
Year released: 2011
Originally released in: 2008
Genre: Black Metal
Review online: May 15, 2011
Reviewed by: Memnarch
Rated 4.62/5 (92.38%) (21 Votes)
It's one of the, if not the most successful black metal album of all time, and as a result it's influenced more than a few albums since its inception in 1994. It is of course De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, and Häxan is just another one of those countless albums that has its origins in that seminal album. Except it's De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas' even more repulsive and grotesque bastard son. Every so often a band will come around and will divide opinions into polar opposites across the board, the sort of bands like Beherit, Von and Blasphemy, and although Cultes Des Ghoules may not be quite as primitive as these acts, they certainly contain the same aura of ugliness and inaccessibility.
This album caused quite a significant stir back in 2008 upon its original release, their brand of raw yet epic Lovecraftian black metal with its remarkably unpolished nature bore heavy resemblance to the aforementioned Mayhem album while containing a constant underlying atmosphere of such bands as Mortuary Drape et-all. It's just not too often they come from a country like Poland though, more famous for its sawtooth blasting and nationalistic ideals.
As stated previously, Attila's Mayhem are the biggest influence, just one listen to the vocals will tell you that that deranged, manic and obnoxious style can only be derived from our Hungarian crackpot Attila. Dynamic and sweeping, ranging from higher-pitched rasping to low incomprehensible gargling, much more than just vocals, they're downright terrifying and demonic and stir the atmosphere at will. The band has gone slightly over the top on the reverb at times, but on the other hand without it they wouldn't sound half as evil, and the excess does help somewhat in filling out the void created by the lack of presence in the guitars.
The riffing while sometimes thin, is devastating, ranging from slow funeral dirges to brief passages of a chaotic, crude and morbid mess. While the execution of the guitar work is remarkable, it's the way Cultes Des Ghoules incorporate the bass into their sound. Whereas most old school bands tend to follow the Darkthrone school of thought and not bother at all with any significant bass contribution, Cultes Des Ghoules obviously prefer the Greek technique where the more bass there is, the better. The bass tone is pure filthy, surrounding the guitars and vocals like a thick cloud of sulphur threatening to overpower you at any moment with its noxious essence.
It's refreshing when a band such as Cultes Des Ghoules come along and remind people that not all black metal has to be relentlessly blasting or full of sweeping keyboards, for they take the most hostile aspects of black metal and warp them even further. Slow paced black metal that invokes all manners of evil abominations. Black metal with an old school aesthetic and genuinely uneasy atmosphere that wouldn't be out of place as a soundtrack to a number of Lovecraft's works, the Devil is most certainly alive here.
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