Relapse Records must be on a new mission for world dominance in 2014. First came the blackened audio terrorism of Chicago’s Indian. On the same day as that release the folks at Relapse also give us the monumental doom of multi-national act, Culted. If they are looking for new levels of sonic depression they’ve discovered them with this release.
The story of Culted’s line-up is a well-told one. Multiple members spread across multiple countries across multiple continents, coming together to create their deviant art thanks to the wonders of modern technology. In this day and age it’s not a unique tale. There have been plenty of acts spanning dozens of genres who’ve shrunken the world down to bits and megabytes in order for the pursuit of some greater musical cause. I’m not sure any of them have ever penned an album as monumental in its scope as this one though. Therein lies the rub. It’s not impossible to create music with people who live far away from you. But it is hard as hell to create music this vast in its depth and scope of breadth when the other guys in the band are standing in the same room, let alone separated by half the globe.
Oblique To All Paths is the second full length album for Culted, but the first release of new music since 2010’s Of Death And Ritual EP. The longer than average wait for new music will automatically be related to the unique, geographically hinged, writing process that Culted are forced to undergo but in reality this album probably wouldn’t have been done any sooner if they all shared the same address. You don’t make doom metal this monumental overnight…and if you do, it’s probably not this good.
The album opens with the sprawling, 19-minute, “Brooding Hex”, a track that on its own could have seen Culted go the way of bands like My Dying Bride, for example, in releasing the single song EP. It’s a stand alone doom metal masterwork that ebbs and flows like angry oceans during a storm, only run through in slow motion. The album then glides into the blackened doom of “Illuminati” which links Culted back to some of black metal’s most distressing moments. From this point Culted have already fully warned you that the title of the album is an apropos metaphor for what your are partaking in. The definition of oblique is “neither parallel nor at a right angle to a specified or implied line”. In other words this album and this band are absolutely oblique to all possible musical paths. There are the aforementioned and easily identifiable doom and black metal elements but those are the proverbial tip of the iceberg. Herein lies sludge (i.e. that killer riff running through “Intoxicant Immuration”) alongside noise, shoegaze, and just about every other genre of metal that are designed to induce trance-like states of malformed euphoria, all mixed together in a potent menagerie of total and complete darkness.
This is not an album easily digested in one sitting. It’ll take multiple listens to truly digest the layers and textures that Culted have weaved together. It’ll be worth your time. Oblique To All Paths is out now. You can begin your journey at the Culted Bandcamp page.