Music

Cult of Luna: Vertikal

Vertikal is a testament to the abilities of this Swedish collective; a band who have now earned their place as one of the most essential in progressive metal.


Cult of Luna

Vertikal

US Release: 2013-01-29
UK Release: 2013-01-28
Label: Indie Recordings
Amazon
iTunes

Cult of Luna have always taken great care and consideration when it comes to presenting their art. The band's previous record, Eternal Kingdom, released back in the summer of 2008, was promoted as based on the hallucinatory ramblings contained within a diary of a mental patient which was supposedly found by the band when they were practising in a building previously used as a mental hospital. No questions were posed as to the legitimacy of the concept for Eternal Kingdom, but Cult of Luna have subsequently admitted that the whole back-story was fabricated by the band themselves. Regardless of this, Eternal Kingdom was an enthralling record that tied some of the most dynamic music this post-metal giant had ever written to a fantastical concept and wrapped it in suitably exquisite artwork.

Enough time has now passed since the release of Eternal Kingdom to allow Cult of Luna the distance to conceive another detailed effort and execute it with the same commitment as its predecessors. Vertikal is the result of the band's endeavours; a concept record loosely based around Fritz Lang's 1927 dystopian science-fiction film, Metropolis. Cult of Luna have been laborious in their attempt to ensure that the music of Vertikal is reminiscent of the austere atmosphere of the expressionist film that forms its muse, and the Swedish septet have more than succeeded in doing so. Vertikal is chillingly futuristic and its quasi-industrial stance is almost Teutonic sounding; much like the aural equivalent of its stark artwork. Beginning with "The One", Cult of Luna take Shine On You Crazy Diamond-era Pink Floyd as a reference point (a seminal record whose influence reappears throughout, especially during the mighty "Mute Departure") for this introduction-piece that sets the mood for the turbulent post-metal of "I:The Weapon". "I:The Weapon" pulls at the tenets of Cult of Luna's well-defined sound, but the bleak keyboards and atmospheric guitar-scapes entwine with the hypnotic riffs and rhythms to attach welcome profundity.

If one thing can be proclaimed about this band is that once Cult of Luna decide on a clear narrative they create music that does not mislay one note or become in any way tedious – something that many artists who have followed in their path have not taken on board. The intimidating centrepiece of Vertikal, "Vicarious Redemption," bolsters this point. An engrossing 19-minute movement, "Vicarious Redemption" may be the pinnacle of Cult of Luna's artistic output; a piece which covers plenty of ground through well-paced ascending and descending passages which directly maintain a strict sense of cohesion that renders running times redundant.

This focus on making the music flow organically in time with the narrative is essential to any concept record, and each and every part of Vertikal is crucial to the overarching story; whether it be the electronic undercurrents of "The Sweep", the detached yet engaging "Synchronicity", the slow-burn of the punishing "In Awe Of", or the Khoma-esque ending that is "Passing Through" – a song which injects some human emotion into what is an otherwise desolate and often unforgiving listen. The fact that after six full-length LPs Cult of Luna can still deliver an opus as challenging, engrossing and intricately layered as Vertikal is a testament to the abilities of this Swedish collective; a band who have now earned their place as one of the most essential in progressive metal.

9

So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less
6

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less
Theatre

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less
10

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less
7

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image