Wow, this is some sick, menacing shit right here folks. Henbane is the latest platter of carnage from Polish black metal act Cultes Des Ghoules, an album so brutal, so unrelenting, that you just have to sit back and marvel at the sheer power & savagery of it all. Surprisingly, Henbane is only the bands second release, as after listening to this punishing, demonic affair you'd swear these guys had been around for 10 or 15 years. The musicianship is top notch and plenty brutal, so don't be surprised by the short track listing here, as each song pushes epic length and allows the band to really unleash their venom.
The band is named after a 1922 cult silent horror film that was banned in parts of the world, so it's no surprise that these lads have chosen black metal as their craft and filled their lyrics with plenty of horrific images and themes. The vocals of Mark of the Devil (yep, that's what he calls himself) run the gamut from evil shrieks, moans, tortured bellows, and violent screams, just what you'd expect on a demonic black metal album. While some tracks tend to veer towards a more doom laden edge, fans of the whole 'blast beat & manic tremelo picked guitar riff' formula won't be disappointed one bit, and there are even some moments of truly chilling keyboard textures as well. Throughout, the guitar riffs of Machine are simply massive in every way...I mean, just give a listen to "Vintage Black Magic" or the title track and prepare to get pummeled into oblivion.
With just the right amount of atmosphere in spots, plus some ominous and quite creepy sound effects to lead off a few songs, Henbane is a very solid, well rounded black metal album. When it cooks, and it does, it's one of the more brutal releases I've heard in some time. I kind of liked the production too, which at times sounds a bit on the low-fi end (though the guitars always sound huge), which seems to be something many black metal acts strive for. This album certainly won't be for everyone, but if brutal extreme music is your thing, I can highly recommend this one and predict big things from this act in the months and years to come.
2) Idylls of the Chosen Damned
3) The Passion of a Sorceress
4) Vintage Black Magic
5) Festival of Devotion
6) The Devil Intimate