Five years since their last full length, 2009’s Below the Thunders of the Upper Deep, blackened doom metal band Culted have released their long awaited sophomore record, Oblique to All Paths. The album is not only a welcome return to the doom metal landscape, but also a strong example of what a doom record should be: daring.
Upon a few listens, the record becomes extremely focused, and the musical growth of the band becomes apparent. The almost 20 minute opener, “Brooding Hex”, establishes the mood of the whole record well, as it jumps between the torment of black metal and the ambiance of doom metal. “Illuminati” is another track that showcases so much of what Oblique To All Paths does well. Strong riffs lead the way, complimented by a solid backing of haunting melodies. “Illuminati” is easily the most memorable track here and perhaps best epitomizes the album’s mission. This, among other tracks, showcases a perfect melding of blackened doom metal, enhanced by gloomy and melancholy undertones.
The penultimate track, “Transmittal”, also finds Culted teetering on the edge of mastery with an extremely impressive vocal performance from Daniel Jansson. Culted, also featuring Michael Klaxon, Mathew Friesen, and Kevin Stevenson, are a band that are rarely even in the same room together, if ever, yet manage to come across on the record in a way that doesn’t feel isolated. The result is near perfection.
Though the record contains some moments of banality, Oblique to All Paths is a strong indication of why this band will continue to conjure in listeners’ minds a dark, melancholy place. Oblique to All Paths is not a record that clicks instantly. The slow and steady melodies and strong musicianship allow repeat listens to absorb the record’s intention, submitting the listener to a movement of doom metal that has been worth the wait.