Cultes Des Ghoules
Häxan


4.2
excellent

Review

by Gameofmetal EMERITUS
December 21st, 2017 | 19 replies


Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Cultes Des Ghoules at their most primal and unfiltered. By God could we only imagine what they would grow to be.

Some days I find it hard to believe that Häxan and Coven were created by the same artists. On paper many of Cultes Des Ghoules’ key attributes carry over; the occult ritualism, the thick, old school black metal riffs, the deranged vocals. On the other hand it’s exceedingly blunt by comparison, lacking the theatrical setup of Coven and the chilling atmosphere of Henbane. No, Häxan is a beast of a different color all things considered. It has a wrecking ball approach (riff first, ask questions later) and sprinkles little dashes of the occult weirdness Henbane would later run away with, all packaged together into epic tracks ranging from just under eight minutes to over sixteen. The pacing is faster as well, leaving ample room for headbangers to have their way, but still slowing things down occasionally for ominous stompers and splashes of ambience. It’s a noisy beast to boot, guitars spreading a cloudy fuzz of distortion with every note, while the drum and bass work leave a downright pummeling bottom layer. In a lot of ways Häxan plays out like the debut of some kids trying their hand at black metal after years of worshiping it from the bedroom and the garage. The rawness and the wild energy is there just as it fades on Henbane, leaving a calculated, constructed product rather than a creation of passion and excitement. Yet there are moments in retrospect that hint at what the twisted minds behind Cultes Des Ghoules were capable of, even on the less refined animal that is Häxan.

It’s all a lot less daunting that it seems, especially if you happen to have experienced the grandeur of their later works before Häxan. It’s certainly no slouch in length, but looking past the 55 minute runtime reveals that most of that hour boils down to tightly constructed, but relatively simple heavy metal with a propensity for the riff. The most theatrical moment doesn’t even appear until the very end of the album as “The Impure Wedding” closes with a two minute sample of a woman’s feral snarling and growling with a few creepy piano runs bouncing around in the background. Other than a couple of brief samples to introduce “Stregoica Dance” and “Scholomance”, the rest is a concoction of devilry and black metal, pure and primal. Even with how few samples are used, the atmosphere is still present. Mark of the Devil is an intimidating presence, even on the band’s debut, and his vocals call to mind child-devouring crones at one moment and the devil incarnate in the next. A sometimes unrefined approach is evident, notably at instances like in “The Covenant and the Sacrifice” where they channel a garage band aesthetic by tossing a bout of guitar feedback and a fast drum count-in to transition from a slow, pounding number into a flash of blast beats and tremolos. The youthful exuberance is appreciable for sure, but all the same, these moments make us realize what a far cry Häxan is from what Cultes Des Ghoules have become: one of the most grandiose, high-minded, and exciting acts in black metal today. This doesn’t have to mean that Häxan is the lesser for these attributes, rather it’s even greater because of them. Striking a unique balance between forward thinking ambition and a rookie’s “in-the-moment” approach puts Häxan in its own unique space within Cultes Des Ghoules’ still young discography. One can choose the sweeping theatricality of Coven, the bone-chilling terror of Henbane, or the unbridled, devilish glee of Häxan to experience, whereas many similar bands might be condemned to rewriting the same album over and over again for a career. How many artists can claim to have created three records in a row right from the start that can be held up as unique from each other while still being irrefutably representative of themselves as artists? Not many, and that’s a good omen for Cultes Des Ghoules future if you should somehow still have concerns for its well-being.



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user ratings (56)
3.7
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
Gameofmetal
Emeritus
December 21st 2017


11659 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

anuda throwback review for the season of black metal, enjoy

Essence
December 21st 2017


6702 Comments


yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay this band needs way more love

zaruyache
December 21st 2017


27535 Comments


you can hear snox singing songs of praise already.

Gameofmetal
Emeritus
December 21st 2017


11659 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

actually not sure what he would think about how i interpreted this, i know he loves this too but i feel like he could easily take issue with some of the things i said about this

ramon.
December 21st 2017


4195 Comments


Band is so good. Those paragraphs thiqq

MoosechriS
December 21st 2017


6353 Comments


Wouldn’t mind picking this up at some point, i’ve got Henbane but that’s all i have by these guys. Awesome write up dude.

Hawks
December 21st 2017


90689 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

^^^Same.

Spacesh1p
December 21st 2017


7716 Comments


Great band

Gameofmetal
Emeritus
December 22nd 2017


11659 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Henbane is the one Id really recommend, bout the same length as this (both under an hour I think) and a lot more interesting. This is there if you want the riff fest

Hawks
December 22nd 2017


90689 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I still gotta hear this and Coven, Henbane is amazing though.

Gameofmetal
Emeritus
December 22nd 2017


11659 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Coven > Henbane > Haxan but Henbane is really close to Coven for me. Coven is a hard 5 and I think I left Henbane at like a 4.8 or something.

Hawks
December 22nd 2017


90689 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Sweet I'm prob gonna jam Coven here at some point before I go to sleep.

Essence
December 22nd 2017


6702 Comments


did you? what did you think? it's one of my favorites last year

holy shit the model for their shirt on their bandcamp is hysterical

Dedes
Contributing Reviewer
January 12th 2018


10166 Comments


I think today is the day I finally jam this band.
This better be good mr.!


Spacesh1p
January 12th 2018


7716 Comments


Best band ever dude, Henbane and Coven are top tier BM.

Orb
January 12th 2018


9440 Comments


I still gotta hear this one

Hawks
September 13th 2018


90689 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Bump. m/

Solipsist
February 17th 2021


102 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

First time listening to this band and I am quite impressed. I love the raw, almost sloppy instrumentals which are overshadowed the varied yet consistently deranged croaks of the vocalist. This is some seriously evil sounding music. Looking forward to Henbane!

Hyperion1001
Emeritus
December 29th 2023


26535 Comments


scholomance and stratholm only true fans know.



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