Cultes Des Ghoules Hembane

Cultes Des Ghoules Hembane
8
A merely decent debut in the raw black metal genre is likely to lead to failure — at least if you sound totally unsalvageable, a handful of people will latch on due to the sheer unruliness of it all. In defiance of this decree, Cultes Des Ghoules' sophomore effort is a staggering improvement upon 2008's Hexan, possibly due to a rumoured line-up shuffle that left vocalist Mark of the Devil the sole remaining member. Clearly entrenched in the filthy and necrotic, but unwilling to conform to one's expectations, Hembane is more likely to breathe musty, decrepit life into a genre not typically known for resisting conventions in the minds of jaded ex-genre fanatics. Powered by an outright hair-raising performance from the aforementioned frontman and featuring five tracks, adding up to nearly an hour of false-flaying misanthropy, there's nary a moment wasted despite the intimidating lengths of the tracks. A keen eye for detail is displayed throughout by whoever actually wrote and played on this, allowing for a rich dynamic between the generally mid-paced material and more spacious, extended build-ups. The record's ambient embellishments, such as choirs, bells and witch-like cackling, drift above the earthy foundation of blackened ritual dirges, leaving a sickening film over the eardrums like a mortuary drape lingering long after the funeral has concluded. (Hells Headbangers)