Thursday 13 February 2014

Culted Track-by-Track Review of Oblique to All Paths

Oblique to All Paths cover art

With the new Culted record due, The Sludgelord and Earsplit have teamed up with Kevin from the band to present their own track by track description of the record. For anyone who doesn't know the band. Culted are:

Band Members

Daniel Jansson - words, voice, ambience
Matthew Friesen - guitar, bass, percussion, noise
Michael Klassen - guitar, bass, percussion, noise
Kevin Stevenson - drums, percussion
Erik Larsen-additional sound, modular synths


Although they've been together for about two years, the four members of Culted have never actually been in the same room. Michael Klassen (guitar/bass/percussion/noise), Matthew Friesen (guitar/bass/percussion/noise) and Kevin Stevenson (drums) all grew up in a small town in the middle of the Canadian prairies, while Daniel Jansson (vocals/ambience) makes his home in Gothenburg, Sweden.

After hearing Jansson’s Deadwood project, Klassen contacted him through his MySpace page to see if he’d be interested in collaborating on his and Friesen’s other band, Of Human Bondage. While emailing back and forth, the guys discovered they had mutual interests in groups like Khanate, Sunn O))) and Electric Wizard and Jansson suggested they put together a whole new project of slow, blackened metal.

Because Friesen and Klassen work out of a home studio in Winnipeg, Manitoba, they were able to write and record the guitar/bass/drum files and send them to Jansson. “I remember when I heard the first riffs I thought, fucking awesome! I really wanted to get back into metal again after only doing Industrial music for about two years, and the initial guitar tracks just blew me away. I really heard a will to experiment and create some really dark oppressive tunes,” Jansson said. Inspired by what he heard, he wrote and recorded the vocals at his studio and sent them back to his Canadian collaborators. “When Daniel sent us the vocals I was floored, the tracks we’d recorded were now songs. What remained was to flesh them out and do justice to his performance,” Klassen said. And over the next several months, the guys continued tweaking their sound, and the files flew back and forth as more percussion, guitars, keyboards and noise were added.

Although the four members of the band still have never spoken to each other in real time, they got to know each other through the music, making Culted a truly collaborative effort across international lines.

Oblique to All Paths Commentary Track-By-Track

Brooding Hex:

Daniel has a habit of listening to a song in its nascent stages and finding the name that defines the song. “Tyrant Cold” off of “Below the Thunders” is a prime example. The man is gifted. I understood this song better once I realized it was a “brooding hex.” It’s funny, the first two minutes of this song are the only parts I ever tried recording additional takes on the drums, and after half a dozen takes it never panned out how I hoped, and so it was cut. I repeat, funny. We definitely like the instrumentation to be raw. Improvisation and authentic experience has always been paramount for this band. And alienation. But we can’t take credit for that.

Daniel, Mike, Eric, and Matt did some amazing work getting this song to feel so big. There is quite a sense of space that makes the more minimalist instrumental parts seem to echo. There is a sludgy riff around 5-6 minutes in that I like, the bass underneath sounds so prickly and edgy. There is a sense of a marshalling about this song as well, a mustering of warriors still steeped in the old ways.  The glory black metal guitar that serves as climax for this song caught me off guard the first time I heard it, must be the major chords. For some reason, sometimes the faster Mike plays guitar, the slower I drum…if our calculations are correct, by the end of the song you should be cursed.


Most people who think to peek behind the curtains of society get enamoured with hatred of religion, of the priests and so forth. Fair enough. I kind of think it’s the temple builders who are really at the heart of all this. Look at their symbols, no god goes unmarked or unnamed. A family of products. No matter what god you sacrifice to, your offering is placed upon a genuine, guild-designed and stamped altar. Religion: talk about a self-propagating market. This is brand loyalty. Got some people you’d like to oppress? Have we got the temple for you.

Matt’s tasty riff manages to be accessible and esoteric at the same time. Emotionally speaking, the song adheres to ancient culting protocols. Initial spectacle - confusing and mesmerising, followed by a languid contentment, then morbid curiosity, horror, the relief and ecstasy of conformity, and finally internalization of doctrine. Please send us your money.

Intoxicant Immuration:

Daniel really upped his already massive game on this album. His vocals continue to blow me away. Love the spoken stuff. “I’m the crow on your shoulder feeding you the blood of serpent” scared the shit out of me first time I heard it. Didn’t even have the record on yet.

Interesting how some things are labelled poison. Who put this skull and crossbones here anyway? Sometimes poison is labelled as knowledge. Sometimes knowledge is labelled as poison. You might have to drink it to know the difference, but usually you can just watch somebody else drink it. You can tell - even if they can’t. Aural intoxication. Some people drink anything handed to them.

The guys really took us to new places in this song, I think maybe we did things on this album that we didn’t feel comfortable doing on the last album. Me anyway. I know my definition of doom has broadened, as well as my appreciation for atmosphere, ambience, and all things industrial.

March of the Wolves:

This is classic Mike riffage. Starving, flea-bitten dogs finally getting their bones. Crunchy.

Distortion of the Nature of Man:

I think this was all Daniel. Original Sin/Message. Thematically I think this applies to all of the songs on this album. I don’t know if we’ve ever produced anything so unified. Daniel’s imagery is meaty.


This is probably my favourite on the album. What is message and what is not? Many people go through life obeying or rejecting messages, and nothing more. Like there could be nothing gleaned from a message other than commands, instructions. Some people don’t ever look at all the stuff that got put into them before they knew that people could put stuff into them. We purchase messages like things. We collect them, hoarding obedience. Obedience is the fuel of all wars and all destructive acts perpetrated collectively. Nothing massive could be built without it. Social structures are always usurped once they have proven their power and utility. Like the EPA, labour unions, or Folk Fest. The key to human survival on Earth lies in disobedience. Disobedience often only damages the machineries of obedience. Of course, left too long, the machineries are people. They’re made from people.

This song for me evokes the ringing of bells. Ringing in their lofty towers. Bells are the ancestors of commercial jingles, and video screens are but the scions of flaming hearths. I know you stare stupefied. I know you hear the summons. The boundaries of time and space are for us demarcated by bells. And whistles, don’t forget whistles. I don’t really hear any whistles in this song, although feedback is kind of like a guitar whistling, I guess. Also, I have to take some responsibility for the Swedish death metal part near the end of this song. I’m not sorry, but I am sorry for not being sorry.


This sums up the album well. The labels of the masters being absorbed and rejected at the same time, depending on what is perceived as message. I think Daniel really captures the psychological and emotional exhaustion of swimming through contradictory mores, clashing dictums, and above all false dichotomies. I think there is something uncomfortably laborious about this tune. I recall it being my favourite song to practice. By myself. These tempos are challenging - Ent Rock.

Thanks to Kev from Culted and Earsplit PR for putting this great article together. You can buy – Oblique To All Paths – on CD/Vinyl from Relapse Records and DD/Vinyl from BandCamp now.

Check Culted from links below: