We’re living in quite the age for communication with this ol’ internet thing you’re currently using. It’s facilitated projects like Culted to exist in many regards, where members reside in different countries, even different continents with an ocean between them. All of the band’s members have never even been in the same room at the same time, so live encounters have been ruled out and rather, Culted exists as a studio-only band, but that hasn’t deterred Relapse Records from signing the band for their first record in 2009 and sticking with them for this second outing, Oblique To All Paths.
With the bulk of the band residing in Winnipeg, Manitoba, they met through playing in black metallers Of Human Bondage, but vocalist Daniel Jansson comes to us from Gothenburg, Sweden, and it was after the band heard Jansson’s Deadwood project that they were compelled to email the Swede via Myspace, and long story short, Culted was born in 2007.
Fast forward to 2014 and Culted unleash Oblique To All Paths, an ambitious and exhausting trek through frosty terrains of blackened doom metal, touched with noise and melody in equally measures.
Oblique To All Paths is, if anything, a difficult album to digest, not just in its dense arrangements and wretched vocals but its harrowing and bleak atmosphere, recalling the barren landscapes of Unearthly Trance and the downcast vibes of truly great funeral doom while also clutching to remnants of post metal’s experimentation.
The album makes this rather clear with the opener ‘Brooding Hex’, the longest and most gruelling track of the record. For 19 minutes, Culted trudge along at a slovenly pace with thick walls of ghastly-toned guitars with Jansson laying down coarse and bilious retches, all complemented by opaque atmospherics courtesy of the synths, which becoming a vital cog in Oblique… as it progresses.
Oblique To All Paths begins blossoming into something truly interesting with ‘Illuminati’, meshing moody sludged-out riffing with vocals that are almost Horseback-like in their layering of throaty rasps clashing with a bed of synths. From here, Culted take us through some harsh and rugged grounds.
Neurosis is a clear influence on the band, heard particularly on the dense guitar soundscapes conjured up on each track and there are some obvious Godflesh-ian traits at play here too, especially when Culted’s more caustic and angular sides begin to manifest themselves such as on ‘Intoxicant Immuration’.
‘Jeremiad’ caps of the record, a song that exacerbates the album’s intensity for one last burst and is probably Oblique To All Paths’ crowning moment to end on where lethargically slow guitars, but with an eerie sense of groove, play us out.
Oblique To All Paths really needs a lot of commitment from the listener but the reward is ultimately worth it for what is an early doom gem for the year.
‘Oblique to All Paths’ Out January 21 on Relapse Record