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Albums That Will #$@&%*! Your Face Off in 2017: Cultes Des Ghoules – Coven, Or Evil Ways Instead Of Love 2CD

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It’s a new year, and you know what that means — it’s time for MetalSucks’ seventh annual new year preview, Albums That Will #$@&%*! Your Face Off! As with previous years, we won’t be spotlighting all the great releases coming out this year, but, rather, concentrating on lesser-known bands whose new releases might otherwise escape your attention. Look for these posts by assorted MetalSucks staffers throughout the week. We hope you enjoy ‘em!

Cultes Des Ghoules Coven

Cultes Des Ghoules
Coven, or Evil Ways Instead of Love 2CD
(Hells Headbangers)
February 17

Let’s imagine that your favorite heavy concept album is Queensryche’s Operation: Mindcrime. You worship its perfect songs and performances, even if its storyline strikes you as clumsy. And now Mindcrime‘s hard drugs, rape, murder, and conspiracy seem downright jaunty compared to Cultes Des Ghoules new double album, a 100-minute tale told by torchlight of desire and death. It’s a mood crusher and nailbiter like Mindcrime, too, but where the latter is a YA version of The Manchurian Candidate, the former is extreme metal to soundtrack a dark, arty “film” of close-ups on faces contorted by terror and despair. One is heavy rock with a Tommy twist, the other is brooding bestial death metal from Eastern Europe’s dark reaches. Still, the albums are cousins and peers.

Like Mindcrime again, Coven commits completely and heedlessly to the potential for silliness in musical drama. To this point, I swear there are riffs on Coven that are repeated 500 straight times. Song lengths are 23, 12, 21, 15, and 28 minutes. Vocals are snarled accusations, fitful narration, and chattering depictions of madness. (It comes with the entire play script, by the way.) It’s like Cultes Des Ghoules — whoever they are — moved to double-down on their second album Henbane, one of 2013’s special metal albums. It’s more of more.

Take half-hour finale “Satan, father, savior, hear my prayer…”, which recasts a Mark Morton riff in different tempos while vocals seem to portray the suffering of ghosts, the chants of the damned, and untethered souls at their mercy. Like each of Coven‘s tracks, it’s a song — not its own EP like its length might suggest. That is, “Satan, father …” doesn’t cycle through an EP quantity of movements; it stretches to intoxicating length the number of parts in a normal song — well, in an ambitious song. It’s a different narrative tempo, extreme and obscure enough to at first make you skeptical until the certainty arrives that Coven is profoundly special.

Once that happens, a listener finds the album’s every sound to be massive and evilly wondrous, both the performances like rotted wood and the compositions like seizures. The length of a feature film, Coven shouldn’t be so knowable and addictive. But Cultes Des Ghoules knows to give us a chance to commit Coven‘s gruesome sights to memory, so we can find our way back. And take others along with us.

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