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<  Album Reviews  ~  Cultes des Ghoules' Henbane (2013)

GoreBag
Posted: Wed Jul 10, 2013 9:41 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 08 Feb 2007 Posts: 2034 Location: South of Haven/Infernhull
Thereís a certain temptation to resort to superlatives and hyperbole whenever a truly good album is released and leaves an impression on the listener; this makes for a poor review as the praise for it, exaggerated as it is, eventually rings hollow. Not wanting to allow overexaggeration to pollute my review, Iím presented with a problem because Henbane really is very good.

Counting only five tracks, but running over fifty minutes in length, the album is by no means short. It also defies a track-by-track approach to reviewing it, and defeats the notion of Ďstandout tracks,í especially considering that the riff changes in each song are more akin to separate movements at parts. Conversely, there is no filler on the record. This isnít to say that it blasts along at a constant pace either; each track has its peaks and valleys, breaks in favour of creating atmosphere or building tension are made periodically and to great effect.

The album makes judicious use of samples and unconventional instrumentation stopping far short of cheesiness - what little synth is used, for instance, is used tastefully and in support of the rest of the piece rather than becoming the focal point of its own appearance. Similarly, there is a wide variance in the different vocal styles employed on the album, from the high-end snarls conventional to black metal, to clear, open-throated speech in the style of an incantation, to impassioned, voice-cracking howls.

The riffs are on the album vary somewhat in style and pace, but generally focus more on their rhythmic qualities than the melodies. There is some play with mutation and repetition, which creates a sense of familiarity with the riffs as they come, providing the songsí structures with a sense of flow without rendering them predictable or boring. Rest assured that is plenty of heaviness, but little in the way of bright or colourful leads. The album is not what one would call riff-driven.

The albumís production leaves me with no complaints: itís clear without being bright; dark without obfuscating anything; dirty without being muddy. Production is often a secondary concern for me, but there are times when a clear vision for the way that an album sounds how it does helps it achieve its goals, and this album is a solid example.

The dry parts of the analysis out of the way now, Iíll examine whatís really important - the way it feels. Itís heavy, itís dark and itís intelligent. Itís creative but not meandering, occult-obsessed but not juvenile, mature but not pretentious, self-reflexive or boring. When itís playing, I canít help but bang my head or grip the grapefruit. It was released months ago and Iím still listening to it. There are times when I think to myself that whatever Iím doing sucks and Iíd rather go home to put Henbane on.

The only downside to this release that I can think of is that, due to the theatricality and atmosphere of it, it would probably be hard to reproduce in a live setting. As a soundtrack to the darkest production of MacBeth yet to be put to film or stage, however, it would just about perfect.

In short: Buy it. Play it loud and often.

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Unholy_Joely
Posted: Sat Aug 10, 2013 4:54 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 08 Nov 2007 Posts: 244
GoreBag wrote:
Itís creative but not meandering, occult-obsessed but not juvenile, mature but not pretentious, self-reflexive or boring.

You brought up some good points for sure. Are you going to submit this at Metal Archives (or someplace cooler)?
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GoreBag
Posted: Sat Aug 10, 2013 6:20 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 08 Feb 2007 Posts: 2034 Location: South of Haven/Infernhull
I've considered it. I was going to use the discussion about the review here as a gauge, but since there's been no talk at all, hahahaha, I don't know.

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Unholy_Joely
Posted: Sat Aug 10, 2013 8:06 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 08 Nov 2007 Posts: 244
No way, it's an excellent review! Submit it.

1) the board is just dead
2) I gave up writing reviews because nobody responds
3) they only respond when they strongly disagree, so I take this as a good thing
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