Vertikal review by Cult of Luna

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  • Released: Jan 29, 2013
  • Sound: 9
  • Lyrics: 8
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 8.7 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.7 (35 votes)
Cult of Luna: Vertikal

Sound — 9
"There can be no understanding between the hand and the brain unless the heart acts as mediator", so said Maria in Fritz Lang's classic silent film, "Metropolis". So when esteemed sludge arthouse Cult Of Luna wrote a manifesto for their new album, deciding on its direction before a note was played, they must have known it would take some work. Like Lang's dystopian masterpiece, the band wanted "Vertikal" to be intense, mechanical and at times unforgiving, taking inspiration from the film's industrial tone and integrating it into the seven-piece's style of fluctuating heaviness, linear structure and high drama. The band have benefitted massively since they brought in a third guitar; what it's done is enabled them to move seamlessly through soft, introspective playing and brash, heavy riffing by organising who plays what and when, without changes in gain. The versatility of having such a large group has never been demonstrated better; the guitars are only the beginning. Synth player Anders Teglund is given a starring role for the first time, handling the crucial melodies and defining the futuristic tinges of vignettes "The One" and "The Sweep". Bassist Andreas Johansson adds important depth to the heavier sections. Magnus Lndberg and Thomas Hedlund, meanwhile, make up the engine room on percussion, metronomic and disciplined but full of artistic flourishes and absolutely outstanding once let loose on the euphoric finale "In Awe Of". Harsh, robotic rhythms drive "Synchronicity" but "Vicarious Redemption", the longest song in the band's history, undertakes a slow and gradual transformation from menacing industrial nightmare to classic Cult Of Luna payoff, with sweeping distortion, authoritative vocals and dissonant downtuned riffing. The size of the group and variety of textures they bring to the table allow these changes to occur regularly throughout the album without compromising either the vision of the band or their sound as we understand it from past albums. The whole thing is executed quite masterfully.

Lyrics — 8
Being ambitious does however mean that you have to leave yourself open to criticism for your weaknesses and flawed English is the main one here. The Swedes have always picked interesting, relevant themes which say something about themselves and the world around them but perhaps more than ever they're let down by the language on "Vertikal". The lyrics read awkwardly on the page but match the dystopia in meaning and are hardly noticeable when you listen. The point need not be stressed. Johannes Persson has taken up sole responsibility for lead vocals following the departure of founding member Klas Rydberg. The two used to share duties but the change is not monumental, with no disrespect to Rydberg. Persson screams with equal power and similar tone, adding human anguish to the mechanized assault but dropping into silence for long stretches at a time, letting the atmosphere change before he comes back with more.

Overall Impression — 9
It's been a while since we last heard from Cult Of Luna; after "Eternal Kingdom" in 2008 they felt a rest was needed and they've been cooped up for several years recharging their batteries and planning work on the next album. They've come back after five years as a well-oiled machine, setting themselves a target and writing an intelligent, evocative piece of art that emphatically meets it in execution. It's something that more bands should do. In heavy music, artists with a unique, sophisticated voice are rare indeed but "Vertikal" proves that Cult Of Luna not only have such a voice but are capable of adapting it to their needs, taking risks and challenging themselves to progress with every album. This isn't the finest work of their career but make no mistake about it, they are one of the best bands we've got on our planet right now.

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21 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Such an awesome and underrated band. Can't wait to pick this up; I didn't even know about it!
    That first song you linked was actually quite a good song. I'm probably going to buy this CD. Are their other albums equally as good? Edit: Also, I'm glad you got a good reviewer to do this album, someone who seems to know a tiny bit (or more) about Metal and clearly did some basic research about the band.
    Definitely check out 'Somewhere Along the Highway.' It's generally considered to be Cult of Luna's magnum opus, and if you like 'Vertikal,' you'll probably be amazed by 'Somewhere Along the Highway.'
    I love this band & the new album is again genius. So much texture & depth to their songs, I can listen over & over. I wish I had the skills and patience to write like that.
    Just saw them live yesterday, after years of waiting. One of the best shows I've ever been to, period! The amount of power they have on stage is incredible!
    Sounds like complete crap. SOrry but screaming isn't singing and takes no talent. Can you review actual talented bands/singers UG?
    anvil is god
    Troll harder.
    Oh, so screaming is talent/singing? Sure, only a troll would think that.
    It actually is harder to do than you think. Yes, most people who've never tried it think, "Oh, I just scream away". No, no, you don't. You have to do it 1) with good tone (yes, there is good and bad tone in screaming); 2) in tune (most people instinctively can sing in tune, but screaming in tune isn't instinctive); and 3) so it fits the song. You clearly don't understand these basic things that "screamer" vocalists have to deal with. Also, discounting an entire band, genre, etc. because they scream is ridiculous. There's a lot of talent in their instrumentation and composition, even if you discount their vocals. anvil is god said, "troll harder".
    Whatever you say buddy, I am sure with all your talent you could sing and someday even scream
    "There can be no understanding between the hand and the brain unless the heart acts as mediator" What a bollocks quote.
    Just because you don't get it or like it or whatever, it doesn't make it "bollocks". /shrug
    It really isn't that hard to get. Just a nonsense deepity. And I didn't claim that it was objectively bollocks. If I call it bollocks then yes actually, it is bollocks. In my opinion.