Tuesday 5 March 2013

Cult Of Luna - Vertikal (Album Review)

Album Type : Full Length
Date Released : 25/1/2013
Label : Indie Recordings
Vertikal, tracklisting
1) The One 2:16
2) I: The Weapon 9:24
3) Vicarious Redemption 18:51
4) The Sweep 3:09
5) Synchronicity 7:13
6) Mute Departure 9:08
7) Disharmonia 0:45
8) In Awe Of 9:56
9) Passing Through 6:03


After forming the band in the area of Västerbotten in 1998 and releasing a split 7'' together with Switchblade on Trust No One in 2000, Cult of Luna released the debut album ‘Self Titled’ on Rage of Achilles in 2001. The year after they signed to Earache Records and recorded the follow up, ‘The Beyond’; a 7″ inch was also released on Hydra Head in the U.S. In 2003, the band started to tour extensively around the release of ‘The Beyond’ and supported bands like Isis, Poison the Well and Dillinger Escape Plan. After the 2004 album ‘Salvation’, headline shows outside of Scandinavia became commonplace. A massive European tour in early 2005 was followed by a support tour for Mastodon in the U.S. Upon their return to Sweden they headed back in to the studio in Umeå, this time to record ‘Somewhere Along The Highway’, releasing it soon after in 2006 and hitting the European roads once more. ‘Somewhere Along The Highway’ won the top rock/ metal award at the Swedish National Radio Awards for “the will and courage to expand and bring new dimensions to the metal genre”.

After receiving national recognition for their art, there was only one natural step for Cult of Luna – to go back to the studio to create once more. These sessions resulted in the release of their fifth album ‘Eternal Kingdom’ in 2008. The album follows a narrative concept; its content relates to and describes a man who first loses his wife, children and later, his mind. He then goes into a parallel world called “Eternal Kingdom”, where animals symbolize good and evil. The band toured the album throughout Europe and Scandinavia supported by The Ocean, Lowood and Fear Falls Burning. In 2009 Cult of Luna then toured in Oceania and Southern Europe and played some big festival shows. During this period the work of ‘Eviga Riket’ was initiated – a book/audio book based on the same story about Holger Nilsson’s destiny as described by ‘Eternal Kingdom’. In early 2010 ‘Eviga Riket’ was released on their very own label C.O.L Press, accompanied by a small tour across the Baltic Sea.

After many years of intense touring the band decided to take a break from live shows until a proper new album was ready. In 2011 the band undertook intense writing sessions and began to record demos. The foundations of the first tracks were recorded in Umeå and an album slowly took form. The recording process was longer and more scattered than before and in 2012 the band eventually got together for a longer, final session in Umeå, at Tonteknik Recording. The result is ‘Vertikal’, the new studio album, will be released via Indie Recordings in Europe on 25th January and Density Records in the U.S on 29th January 2013. ‘Vertikal’ marks a much-anticipated return for the band after five years spent cultivating the ideas and directing the influences that have helped form a concept for the album. Distilled throughout are themes of machinery, repetition and clear, linear structures honed to the visual imagery of Fritz Lang’s classic expressionist science-fiction film ‘Metropolis’. The music broods, builds and boils as you may expect from Cult of Luna, but never over-complicates itself or veers from its intentions; it is arguably their finest and most cohesive piece of work to date. Cult of Luna will return to the live arena with an extensive touring schedule in 2013.

Cult Of Luna is:
Johannes Persson - Guitars and Vocals
Magnus Lindberg - Drums and Studio-Engineering
Erik Olofsson - Guitars
Andreas Johansson - Bass
Anders Teglund - Keyboards and Electronics
Fredrik Kihlberg - Guitars and Vocals
Thomas Hedlund - Drums and Percussion


Cult of Luna have been out of the spotlight for what seems like forever and a day. They've returned from the mothership or wherever they were hibernating, and have decided to bestow 'Vertikal' upon us - an album which is influenced by the film 'Metropolis', a theme they chose because it represents "a hypnotic backdrop of machinery and repetition."
I'm totally sold. Let's do this.
First of all I have to say that album opener 'The One' is magical. It could sit nicely on the Bladerunner soundtrack and not skip a beat. Very Vangelis inspired.
Ridley Scott film-baiting sounds aside; it's back to business at least momentarily when 'I: The Weapon' kicks in. Traditional Cult of Luna in its entirety, slow and very musical with great shouted yet clear vocals. Everything is pushed to the front in the mix, and everything is crystal clear. Great production value. Winding and twisting riffs abound, all twinned with that Vangelis synth space-sound from the previous track at various interludes.
Another highlight is 'The Sweep'. It continues this theme of 'Metropolis' remarkably; you can just imagine a life form that had never witnessed human city civilisation trying to understand just what exactly it is experiencing. Electronics within heavy music come under fire a lot, but here they legitimately enhance the feel.
'Synchronicity' features a nice build, and then becomes very mechanical, rigid and structured. A fantastic piece that contributes well to the overall theme of order that runs through this release. Some great heavy riffs are parcelled in and you'll easily find yourself nodding along.
The quieter moments are just as vital as the more impactful ones here. Both complete 'Vertikal'. And both are immaculately on display in album highlight 'Mute Departure'. Soft and smooth, and then crushingly heavy; it's a terrific contrast of sorts that captures the imagination.
I highly recommend you invest in a copy of 'Vertikal'. They were in self-imposed exile for a long time, but Cult of Luna have returned with a fanfare. It's good to have them back.
Words by : Matt Fitton

As ever show your support to the band. Thanks to Andy @ Indie Recording and Simon Glacken @ilikepress. Check the links for more info on the band. Record is available to buy now and DD at the usual places.