Friday, 17 January 2014

Culted - Oblique To All Paths

I tried to review this album without mentioning the Culted's geographically fascinating backstory, but the disconnect between the members (Three of whom reside in the remote Canadian prairies while vocalist Daniel Jansson lives in Gothenburg, Sweden. They have never met.) had such an impact on my interpretation of the album that I felt compelled to bring it up. Throughout the entirety of Oblique To All Paths I was unable to shake the feeling that Jansson's voice was like some terrible long-lost recorded artifact, and that the musicians had been tasked with writing an appropriately unsettling piece of music to accompany it, when in fact their recording process is quite the opposite way around.

Both the instruments and vocals are swathed in layers of effects; the guitars can occasionally sound like the scraping of long-ossified bone on cracked concrete, the drums hit with all the impact of anti-materiel rounds fired into the hull of a rusted tanker, and the vocals sound like the last transmission of a man slowly bleeding to death in the middle of a frozen tundra. It is an unremittingly bleak collection of sounds, expertly fused to create an unpleasant but wholly immersive experience.

I would be genuinely surprised if anyone is able to listen through this whole album without needing to take a break more than a couple of times. Sombre piano jabs lead into 'Illuminati' which actually possesses something vaguely resembling traditional song structure, there's a riff and everything! It may be accompanied by more of Jansson's feral, cybernetic howls, but it's a riff nonetheless. However the following track, 'Intoxicant Immuration', contains no such concessions to structure; it's more akin to floating facedown in the slowly pooled blood of a thousand bathtub suicides.

With Oblique To All Paths, a title taken from a quote from occultist Austin Osman Spare, Culted fulfil their intention to "explore an artistic or philosophical path regardless of societal expectations". Whilst filtering elements of doom, black metal, industrial, noise and much more into their musical output, Culted sound completely unlike any other band. Follow down their dark path at your peril...

Read my full unedited review at Echoes And Dust...

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