Swedish post metal septet Cult of Luna make a welcome return with the release of their sixth studio album entitled Vertikal. The Umeå post-metallers have nine tracks on the album, with writing sessions having begun as far back as 2011. Vertikal is a concept album written with ‘linear structures’, one look at the cover art reinforces this. It is heavily influenced by Austrian-American filmmaker Fritz Lang’s ground-breaking German expressionist science-fiction film ‘Metropolis’. A film set in 2026, where rich industrialists rule from huge tower complexes, which gives you an idea of the scale of this album’s theme. Opening instrumental track ‘The One’ entails a startling mixture of sounds reminiscent of computers, air raid sirens and 80’s sci-fi soundtracks. Some may say a risky opening to the album. The band has painstakingly planned everything for this record to give it a more urban sound. For example, the recording studio which was used to record the drums is built out of solid concrete and has no wooden structures, enabling the drums to have (as described by Magnus Lindberg) a darker sound, although they have still managed to capture that unmistakable sound from their previous five albums. ‘I: The Weapon’, which was streamed for free online in December is nine minutes which heralds the arrival of the full band and is well worth the wait. This is classic Cult of Luna, dark, heavy and achingly beautiful, yet with a different outlook. Immediately followed easily by the album’s longest track ‘Vicarious Redemption’, which simmers for the first half of the track like a lion stalking its unsuspecting prey. It is chilling and would easily be welcomed onto a horror movie soundtrack. The second half incorporates some excellent and trademark riffs from all four guitarists Persson, Rydberg, Olofsson and Olofsson, respectively. ‘In Awe Of’ sums up Cult of Luna perfectly, awash with melodies and an intense furore that sounds natural and unforced. This band is capable of fusing anger and compassion with effortless cool, something that cannot be taught. Once in full throttle they play together so well, sounding so immensely powerful, and epic. No matter what mood the listener is in, this group of musicians can quite easily muster unaccountable emotions; now how many bands can you name as being able to do that? Vertikal does need to be played several times before everything clicks into place. However, with music being constantly overlooked so flippantly in today’s world, doesn’t that make it even more appealing? Vertikal is a journey, an album that demands patience and time. Several listens are advised before drawing your own conclusions. However, for a long time fan that thought that 2006’s ‘Somewhere along the Highway’ was untouchable, being proved wrong never felt, nor sounded so good!
Cult of Luna are:
Johannes Persson (Guitars and Vocals), Klas Rydberg (Vocals), Magnus Lindberg (Drums and Studio-Engineering), Erik Olofsson (Guitars), Andreas Johansson (Bass), Anders Teglund (Keyboards and Electronics), Fredrik Olofsson (Guitars and Vocals), and Thomas Hedlund (Drums and Percussion).