Culted - Oblique to All Paths
7 songs (01:02:06)
Release year: 2014
Official Myspace, Relapse
Reviewed by Charles
Wow, almost five years since the first Culted album. This is a Canadian-Swedish project (actually, the Swedish guy has never met the Canadians, and just adds his stuff on to the recording later from the other side of the Atlantic) for whose Beyond the Thunders of the Lower Deep I wrote one of my first and crappiest reviews for this site.

The band’s sound is something like this: it tends to be based around very down-tempo doom-death riffs- think other Relapse bands like Unearthly Trance, or Serpentine Path. But this is only half the story, because Culted also draw a lot from the more atmospheric likes of Esoteric and other funeral doom acts. So very long, very slow songs, filled with creepy quiet bits. I think this is where the remote Swede Daniel Jansson comes in: he is credited with “ambience” on the band’s metal archives page.

Anyway, what struck me after returning to Culted after quite some time away was, indeed, the death metal inflection to the riffing. Sometimes, like on Transmittal, the guitar tone and riffing is really harsh and crunching, to the extent that the best comparison would be a record like Gateways to Annihilation. On Illuminati, there is a gravelly, intrusive edge to them that reminds me of a motorbike revving. Much of the time, though, the riffs are swathed in toxic electronics. Sometimes this can work brilliantly, like on the opener Brooding Hex, where spooky synths bubble and seep around the plodding guitar lines. Other times, it can be a bit disorienting, like later on the same (twenty minute) track, where incongruous choral oohing starts to float around an even more incongruous diversion into major chords.

Oblique to all Paths works less well, in my opinion, when the guitar riffing is pushed into the background. This is a long album (about an hour), and there are a lot of stretches of brooding ambient, but I don’t buy these elements here as readily as I do when they are played by someone like Esoteric. They can sound slightly meandering, to my ears- for example on Transmittal, before the riffing resumes the lead role and the abovementioned Gateways… vibe kicks in. In other words, I really like Culted as a doom-death band, but not necessarily as high-brow space voyagers. As such, I didn’t feel the running time was quite justified. Still, they have a distinctive sound which, in their better moments, will offer a lot to those who like their death metal to border on doom.

Killing Songs :
Brooding Hex
Charles quoted 70 / 100
Other albums by Culted that we have reviewed:
Culted - Of Death and Ritual reviewed by Charles and quoted no quote
Culted - Beyond the Thunders of the Upper Deep reviewed by Charles and quoted 85 / 100
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