Album Review: Cult Of Luna – Vertikal

//Album Review: Cult Of Luna – Vertikal

Cult of luna Vertikal review

Cult Of Luna – Vertikal

by Rich Price

‘Vertikal’ is the sixth album from Swedish post-metal, atmospheric sludge giants Cult of Luna, and their first since 2008’s ‘Eternal Kingdom’.

Heavy metal and machinery have always gone hand in hand since Black Sabbath were originally inspired by the constant mechanical pounding noise of industrial Birmingham. The album is based upon Fritz Lang’s timeless Metropolis and this album really does manage to convey that very well.

Although not intended to be considered a companion piece to Metropolis, when listening to this album and watching metropolis at the same time (I need no better excuse). It really does add to the atmosphere of the film and capture the essence of the film far better than the original score. There’s a calculated and mechanical feel to this, it’s industrial in the original sense of the word.

Opening track ‘The one’ begins with pounding electronic drums echoing, and the metropolis link is immediately obvious. This minimalist sci-fi sound set’s the scene for the album and it’s evident to hear the influence of fritz Lang’s metropolis throughout this particular piece, although there are notable similarities in places with Blade runner

This theme is repeated throughout the album with tracks such as ‘The sweep’ and ‘Disharmonia’ which carry the theme most obviously throughout the album before ending with track 9 ‘passing through’. This is a cathartic closer to the album, opening with a low throbbing bass, and building gradually it opens with what evokes comparisons with porcupine tree, and delivers an emotionally satisfying conclusion to a genuinely great album.

These moments of calm are shattered with some tracks like Track 2 ‘I: The Weapon’. The lush sci-fi feel is stripped away without warning to deliver a truly oppressive and crushing experience, but coupled with the elegance of the film. This track starts off crushingly heavy and builds to some wonderful textures and multi-layered sounds. It’s builds soaring sonic structures and evokes the sense of columns of workers heading deep underground to work in the claustrophobic darkness of the city.

At just under twenty minutes in length, ‘Vicarious Redemption’ is a significant piece of the album, and with its multifaceted approach it’s really quite breath-taking. Starting off quietly and once again builds the atmosphere of the film, an almost mechanised despair mixed with a sense of fragility is evident at the outset of this track.

The brooding and boiling tempo changes are used to effect to really bring you into the dystopian world they are re-creating, and then it build up to more familiar territory, before the left field addition of some proto dub-step (Surprisingly it works well) and them building up in a sonic eruption. I could talk for a long time about this track, but needless to say it does showcase every element of cult of Luna, and at the same time being a self-contained journey in its own right.

There are moments of absolute beauty here, juxtaposed perfectly with some moments of devastating heaviness, and allowing both the shine out. Crafted with the same mechanistic complexity and relentlessness the film evokes it builds a timeless sonic monument before fading out to silence with sirens.

Track 5, ‘Synchronicity’ is another stand out track, which starts with some polyrhythmic drumming, and has moments which make me think of godflesh. Five minutes in is chugging along relentlessly and dragging you along with it.

Track 6 ‘mute departure’, opens with distorted sirens and calls combine to create bladerunner-esue soundscapes, before building up into some sublime moments with clean vocals and expertly crafted melodies and soundscapes, once again drawing you into the dystopian atmosphere, and weaving in with riffs which are as crushing as Neurosis and yet bizarrely seem to be accompanied by a faint fanfare of trumpets. It’s clear in moments that whole album displays an obsessive amount of care and attention and it’s easy to see why it’s taken so long between albums.

Track 8, ‘In awe of’ features some epic soaring lead guitars, and a similar aesthetic to the rest of the songs, complex, linear structures bear down on you as you listen some fantastic heavy work, sections of disjointed rhythm, mix with perfectly with great melodies, and fuses it with the ambient metropolis themed atmospheric sections probably more noticeably than the other songs. This is probably my favourite track on the album.

This is an album which will keep delivering, exquisitely crafted with multiple layers you can listen to this several times and pick something different out each time, which is testament to the quality here, the song writing and abstract structures and progressions work perfectly with the muse, the musicianship and production carry it off perfectly.

The first great album I’ve heard in 2013, and almost certainly a contender for the best of 2013 list which we’ll be inundated with in 11 months’ time. This is going to get a few more listens, whilst watching metropolis. A sterling effort and well worth the wait.

8/10 (9/10 as a soundtrack for Metropolis – takes on a whole new life)

Vertikal is released on the 29th of January 2013 on Indie recordings

Full album stream can be found over at Brooklyn Vegan




By |2013-01-23T00:00:00+01:00January 23rd, 2013|CD Reviews|0 Comments

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