Oblique To All Paths
Review by Ryan on March 1, 2014.
I often respect a band that knows what it wants and knows how to get it, and the odds are increased when said band has an original vision. In the case of Culted, we are talking about music stamped with a big warning label of “not for everyone.” The riffs are abysmally slow, the rhythms are stripped to the marrow, and the vocals conjure images of a chain smoker gargling razor blades. Melodies are scarce, nervous, and unsettling; the only thing resembling a guitar solo is maelstrom of tremolo picking. There is unpleasant, and then there is downright hideous.
Oblique to All Paths is Culted’s second album, and the first release that I’ve encountered from them. The band is one of those “through the mail” projects, except it’s really done through high speed file trading now, where members living on different continents can send .flac packages to each other in under an hour. Curiously, most of the band’s members have a history in black metal, but it seems they’re now gravitating towards sludge. The result is an album you’d more expect to hear coming from Brooklyn than Winnipeg or Gothenburg.
Marriages of black metal to sludge have become an occasional yet recognizable phenomenon over the past decade. Culted, however, are hacking the vegetation towards virgin territory. They exhibit a slowness and depravity verging on funeral doom, but those unpalatable riffs are mixed with an inedible guitar tone, drenched in reverb and chorus. My copy of this album did not come with lyrics, but the song titles assure me they are thoroughly misanthropic and obsessed with death. I’m uncertain why this exact concoction exists, but I’m glad it does.
Despite this album’s clear strong points, it feels slightly under-realized. There are a few moments where the album falters, particularly on the droning stretches of the final two tracks. The aesthetics can become muddled between a forgotten dungeon and a rotting landfill, and these slight inconsistencies keep them from achieving the true greatness of a Batillus or Evoken. Still the potential is clear. I respect this band, I might even come to love them, but there is no way anyone will ever confuse their music with fun. I assume that’s exactly what they’re aiming for, and I tip my cap to them.
Categorical Rating Breakdown
Rating: 8.2 out of 10