Cultes Des Ghoules
Henbane

It’s fitting that the second full-length offering from this mysterious Polish entity is named after a poisonous, hallucinatory plant and the band is named after a book from Lovecraftian mythos, because each night I listened to this release at night time, on head phones, it resulted in nightmares, unsettled sleep, and according to my wife, sleep talking in tongues (true story). So much so that I had to force myself to not listen to this at night and give it proper listen in the safety of the daylight.

So much music nowadays claims to be ‘occult’, or ‘ritualistic’, but with Cultes Des Ghoules, I can safely say that Henbane is one of those rare releases that actually fulfills that promise. No vests or female crooner here. With a malevolent, throbbing tone that imbues orgiastic, masked ceremonies deep in the woods, the black/doom/ambient soundscapes of Cultes Des Ghoules comes across as part classic Leviathan, part Weapon, part Secrets of the Moon (or other equally eclectic German black metal), and part Fulci soundtrack. The pulsing, lustful, evocative riffing, blacked expulsions, and haunting, brittle atmospherics along with the array of chanted, rasped, growls and whispered vocals come together in the 6 lengthy songs to be a full on sonic ritual that will have you in a state of paranoia. At times it feels like the band somehow managed to infuse henbane into the music and have it dissolve into your ear canal.

As with most music of this style, Henbane is an experience, not a quick auditory fix. I can only imagine what this experience must be like if bolstered by mind altering substances (actual henbane?). It’s creepy enough as it is with so many moments of hair raising atmospherics and insidiously crafted droning black metal  that you can feel tendrils of dread circling your mind, and on more than one occasion, I ripped off headphones thinking I heard something in my house, or outside my window. The production helps this feeling as it’s is loose and murky with a vile, raw, fetid feel that carries the riffs with a slick sense of atmosphere without overdoing it. It’s oppressive but, like a thick mist rather than a claustrophobic, something on your chest sense. The whole album just kind of swirls around your senses, like a phantom being whispering demonic chants into your ear.

Whether it’s the direct blackened assault of opener “Idylis of the Chosen Damned” or the steady, sexual heave, lurch and howls of “The Passion of the Sorceress”, the downright spooky mantras of “Vintage Black Magic”, or the psychedelic spell of closer “The Devil Intimate”, Henbane is arguably one of the truly most physically effective, violating releases I’ve heard in years and should come with a warning label that you might actually summon  something awful with repeated listens.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
April 22nd, 2013

Comments

  1. Commented by: Biff_Tannen

    Fantastic album, but I hear absolutely none of those bands you referenced in this one. Strange how that works.

    And since you referred to this one as their second outing, I’m guessing you didn’t hear last years 25 minutes EP, “Spectres over Transylvania” ?? If not, you must hear it ASAP. It’s every bit as good as Henbane !


  2. Commented by: E. Thomas

    Hey Biff- im curious- who do you hear?


  3. Commented by: vugelnox

    if anything I hear Ruins of Beverast. Not so much in saying they literally sound like each other, more that both bands write lengthy songs LOADED with a atmosphere that conveys dread and horror. Also that both bands really don’t sound like anyone else.


  4. Commented by: gabaghoul

    I hear a lot of Root/Master’s Hammer-style weirdness in this too, particularly in track 2. based on your description I was expecting something more atmospheric/melodic like Great Old Ones or Blut Aus Nord.


  5. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    hints of some Teitanblood-styled brainfuck. the vocalist is bonkers crazy scary.


  6. Commented by: Biff_Tannen

    Erik – I honestly can’t place my finger on any specific comparisons…. I just know that I love this band and album !


  7. Commented by: Biff_Tannen

    So, have you heard “Specters……” ?


  8. Commented by: SRK

    Brilliant album, one of the best bands around at the moment. As far as points of comparison, obviously Doombringer since they share members. But also Negative Plane; both are mining the same early/primitive black metal aesthetic, writing expansive songs and really occult atmosphere. For much the same reason that Ruins of Beverast was mentioned, really.


  9. Commented by: E. Thomas

    yeah i can see the Ruin of Beverast comparisons, but this seemed less black and more eerie/weird. Im not too familiar with Root/Masters hammer so cant really say. Either way, stunning album


  10. Commented by: Cynicgods

    I agree with vugel. They sound like no one else but they have a kindred spirit in Ruins Of Beverast. Don’t hear Root or Master’s Hammer at all. Those two sound much more “fun occult stuff” than this. This one’s dread and abject terror in the best possible way. Music for inmates in Arkham or music the Ancient Ones listen to on their soulpods.


  11. Commented by: Biff_Tannen

    This band also shares members with Bestial Raids, but it’s a different vocalist for CDG.


  12. Commented by: E. Thomas

    New one is even weirder


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