Culted – Oblique To All Paths (Relapse)

Sunday, 12th January 2014
Rating: 6.5/10

The experimental realm is a dangerous one indeed, especially when mixing the searing palates of black metal (the atmospheres, anyway, not the speed) with that of the crushing weight of doom. For the transatlantic entity known as Culted (the vocalist lives in Sweden, the rest in Canada), the mixing is an odd one, at all times suffocating but not always endearing or memorable. Oblique To All Paths is a peculiar indulgence in left-field sonics and experimentation, but a rousing recommendation it is not.

Right out of the gate is the album’s longest cut and foremost example of what you’ll find within with 19 minute opus “Brooding Hex,” but a multifaceted foray of movements it is not. Instead it is the foremost example of a torture dirge, slowly grinding all resistance it might encounter to a fine mist as it waxes and wanes toward its distant conclusion. On the other hand “March Of The Wolves” is a comparatively brisk four minutes of despondent misery, though much more impactful in the time that it has to utilize. “Transmittal” is conversely an exercise in the frustrating, at once melancholy for part of its run time and oddly aggressive for the other, a somewhat baffling (and non-fluid) juxtaposition.

Perhaps the worst offender here for stretching attention spans and taste is “Intoxicant Immuration” and its mix of spoken-word (eh, kinda) and truly funeral-dirge with noise pacing. Not that the style in and of itself isn’t very doable, it just does not comes across well on these ears. Closer “Jeremiad” almost suffers the same fate, saved perhaps only by its shorter run time (though admittedly, not by much). Vibes of old-world Khanate linger in patches, though ultimately without the same sort of resonance. If you’re feeling like dragging the bottom of an abyssal lake, this might be just the thing for you. Otherwise, proceed with caution.

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