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Ritual journey towards the below. - 94%

Stillborn Machine, March 20th, 2014

Proving that you don't need to be indie/shoegaze/alternative/post-crock/post-hardcore/drone-influenced to be legitimately artistic, this Polish black metal album rises above both its first wave styled contemporaries and the "artsy" stuff of today.

Its base components are made of dirty, primitive riffs that are at times nearly abstracted to early Beherit levels, although they use a wider range that call to a variety of blackened schools. You'll hear Mortuary Drape, Blasphemy, the aforementioned Finnish band, Sarcofago, Mayhem, and other such familiar sounds. However, Cultes des Ghoules arrange them in near ambient layers, driving in a central motif into your skull like in an abusive occult ritual before progressing to the next level of depravity and transgression. Ritualistic cymbal rolls, varying degrees of ghoulish vocal incantations, hypnotic riffs - a variety of techniques are used to create "atmosphere" not for its own sake, but to create moods meant to be violently broken, with each successive destruction revealing something more horrific.

This is mostly an improvement over the debut, Häxan, although occasionally it does drag a bit with its very longwinded approach. Still strongly recommended for those that want a deceptively advanced take on "primitive" music.