Culted - Of Death and Ritual
Relapse Records
Blackened Doom Metal
4 songs (25:34)
Release year: 2010
Official Myspace, Relapse Records
Reviewed by Charles
I must confess, I’m not totally convinced of the point of this EP, but it’s certainly good to hear again from Culted. Last year’s debut established them in a productive and innovative niche that currently sees them with little competitors. Their slow, despondent, and heavily blackened brand of doom metal is a distinctive one, but surprisingly accessible with it. Riffs hook you in, no matter how crawling and gloomy they may be, and the bleakness is rarely without a sense of groove.

Actually, as Spirituosa shambles in, the prospect of something a little new rears its head. The riffing seems crunchier, and more metallic, if not really any faster. Do we want to hear this band taking a more proactive, harder rocking direction? Shortly after the question arises, it hardly seems to matter, as this short tune seems merely in place as a build into the rather more substantial Black Cough, Black Coffin which hints strongly at continuity rather than change. In a blackened shroud, this trudges through utterly miserable guitar lines and sinister noise, and with its unrelentingly low-pitched, scuzzy guitar lines seems a kindred spirit to Triptykon’s epic, The Prolonging, albeit one without quite the same level of crushing musical weight. Dissent follows a very similar path, although rather more abstractly. It picks up into wheezing grooves and then repeatedly breaks down into static, ambient moaning. It’s kind of background music, but of the sort that would be a really, really bad choice if you were planning on serving your party guests anything other than mud and beetles.

Finally, we have what is probably the biggest point of interest here; a curious cover of Swans’s Whore. Perhaps it’s an odd choice- why would a band like this not cover something they could make harder to listen to? Were you unfamiliar with the original, you could very easily listen straight through under the assumption that this was one of their own, so thoroughly is it co-opted by their trademark doom rumble. Here’s the paradox- this tune reveals Culted as less of an avant-garde proposition than they appear. For those in the metal scene well-versed in projects like Sunn 0))), which is surely all of us now, their songs are intensely listenable and in a language whose vocabularly we now understand fluently- unlike the fearsome discord of Swans, whose work can’t ever really be assimilated comfortably by human ears.

Speaking as an admirer of this band, I’m not entirely sure what’s accomplished by this release. I suppose it’s evidence that the band haven’t turned into Dragonforce, for which we should all be grateful. But essentially it is a short set of tracks that function as an expansion to last year’s Below the Thunders…. Of course, I implore those unfamiliar with the band to hunt this down, but those who already know what the score is probably aren’t missing that much if this passes them by.

Killing Songs :
Black Cough, Black Coffin, Dissent
Charles quoted no quote
Other albums by Culted that we have reviewed:
Culted - Oblique to All Paths reviewed by Charles and quoted 70 / 100
Culted - Beyond the Thunders of the Upper Deep reviewed by Charles and quoted 85 / 100
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