Release Date: Jan 29, 2013
Record label: Workhorse Music Group
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Heavy Metal
Cult of Luna have always taken great care and consideration when it comes to presenting their art. The band’s previous record, Eternal Kingdom, released back in the summer of 2008, was promoted as based on the hallucinatory ramblings contained within a diary of a mental patient which was supposedly found by the band when they were practising in a building previously used as a mental hospital. No questions were posed as to the legitimacy of the concept for Eternal Kingdom, but Cult of Luna have subsequently admitted that the whole back-story was fabricated by the band themselves.
Feel sorry for Cult of Luna. The Swedish dudes were playing this epic Neurosis/Isis style before horrible tags like "post-metal" (I don't want a world after metal!) and "metalgaze" (metal does not gaze!) existed. Now, you just want to punch a dude if he admits he listens to this stuff. What, is he wearing paisley too? A floral crown, perhaps? Man up! The rub is that Cult of Luna do the 13-minute-song thing so well on their sixth album (which is about four hours long) it's scary, adding in a healthy dose of experimental electronics (wait, don't run away just yet), while tunes like "Synchronicity" have a wonderful and oddball key/guitar interplay.
Inspired by the classic Fritz Lang film Metropolis, the Swedish octet’s sixth album draws on a surprising range of influences—early synthpop, ’60s prog, classic krautrock—to find the right palette of instrumental colors for these brooding soundscapes. They take their time with them, too, teasing out the melodic power of each idea through steady, restrained repetition. This is music at a slow simmer, not a fast boil, and as such, takes time and patience to absorb.
Taking a cue from the physical highs and lows of titular city of Metropolis and the emotional highs and lows of the 1927 film’s story, Cult of Luna’s Vertikal is a linear album, best appreciated from start to finish. Cult of Luna are no strangers to creating painstakingly crafted albums about clashes with authority, so it’s no surprise that Vertikal succeeds. Mirroring the Fritz Lang film’s portrayal of man operating and essentially becoming a part of a machine, the Swedish band plays their instruments meticulously and repetitively.
In the solemn and self-serious realm of post-metal, no band serves as a working template quite as much as Neurosis. For the last quarter century, the California group has blended massive atmospherics with steely-eyed ferocity, resulting in albums of grand arches and, at best, total immersion. Part of the delight, though, is tracing the band's stepwise development during their era; antithetical to the pervasive indie culture quip of "I liked their earlier stuff better," seldom few Neurosis fans would argue that the band arrived fully formed.
A superb sixth studio album from the envelope-pushing post-metal Swedes. Raziq Rauf 2013 Cult of Luna’s previous album, Eternal Kingdom, was released way back in the summer of 2008. But despite a near-five-year gap between LPs, the Swedish post-metal outfit has lost none of its power. While Eternal Kingdom was inspired by recording in a disused mental hospital, Vertikal is an altogether more calculated beast.