(Indie Recordings)

01. The One
02. I: The Weapon
03. Vicarious Redemption
04. The Sweep
05. Synchronicity
06. Mute Departure
07. Disharmonia
08. In Awe Of
09. Passing Through

RATING: 9/10

CULT OF LUNA have a confession to make.

Turns out the "true story" behind the Swedish group's most recent LP, 2008's "Eternal Kingdom" - something to do with a mad man's diary, filled with ramblings about a fantasy world, unexpectedly surfacing in their rehearsal space - was in fact entirely fabricated, as seems all too obvious, in retrospect.

However, they now want us to believe that the inspiration for that album's belated successor, 2013's "Vertikal", originated in Fritz Lang's dystopian 1927 science-fiction film "Metropolis" - yeah right, pull the other one, why don't you?

All kidding aside, though, and of perhaps far greater importance, in the five years since CULT OF LUNA's last LP, the world has kept right on turning, turning, turning - possibly too quickly for the Swedes to keep up and remain creatively relevant.

Story continues after advertisement

After all, the admittedly amorphous musical genre under which they'd previously been categorized (for good or ill) has since fallen far enough out of commercial and critical favor that no one is even sure what to call it anymore: post-metal, metalgaze, progressive sludge-core, Honey Boo Boo?

So it's to CULT OF LUNA's immense credit (and their fans' relief!) that, rather than despair over this hiatus and attempt to move with the times or, worse, simply guess which way the wind may blow next, they've chosen instead to be just as they were: inventive, long-winded and unpredictable, to be sure, but recognizably so to listeners who liked them in the first place.

If anything, the band has in fact "regressed" into braver experimentation on this, their sixth album, since "Eternal Kingdom" had in many ways tempted the limits of their sound's commercial accessibility, while new "Vertikal" offerings such as "I: the Weapon" and "Mute Departure" see the band sparing no thought to editing their protracted textural explorations, most of which familiarly boast hypnotic, bass-driven riff foundations a la TOOL over which mellifluous melodies can glide and evolve untethered, or at least until they are violently smacked down to earth by thunderous metallic punctuations.

In the case of the awe-inspiring, all-time career epic, "Vicarious Redemption", that slow-building compositional template emerges covertly out of dense underbrush fit to soundtrack to the latest Tarzan flick, before cresting magnificently amid power chords and scintillating melodic guitar and keyboard runs bearing a cathartic payoff akin to AGALLOCH's uber-epic, "Black Lake Nidstang".

If anything, these movements rumble and pulse with so MUCH palpable human emotion (more ominous than hopeful, but emotional nonetheless) that they might even call the band's "inspired by 'Metropolis'" claims into question, were it not for the helpful scene-setting of robo-synthetic interludes like "The One", "The Sweep" and "Disharmonia", plus deeper techno-mechanical sound integrations in "Synchronicity", "In Awe Of" and farewell lament, "Passing Through".

None of which diminishes the scale of CULT OF LUNA's artistic accomplishment across "Vertikal" - not least for reaffirming the band's talents with such a compelling and impressive suite of songs - arguably as strong as anything in their discography - but also renewing their lease on life for years to come, wherever and whenever they should wish to pursue it.

The wait was well worth it.


To comment on a BLABBERMOUTH.NET story or review, you must be logged in to an active personal account on Facebook. Once you're logged in, you will be able to comment. User comments or postings do not reflect the viewpoint of BLABBERMOUTH.NET and BLABBERMOUTH.NET does not endorse, or guarantee the accuracy of, any user comment. To report spam or any abusive, obscene, defamatory, racist, homophobic or threatening comments, or anything that may violate any applicable laws, use the "Report to Facebook" and "Mark as spam" links that appear next to the comments themselves. To do so, click the downward arrow on the top-right corner of the Facebook comment (the arrow is invisible until you roll over it) and select the appropriate action. You can also send an e-mail to blabbermouthinbox(@) with pertinent details. BLABBERMOUTH.NET reserves the right to "hide" comments that may be considered offensive, illegal or inappropriate and to "ban" users that violate the site's Terms Of Service. Hidden comments will still appear to the user and to the user's Facebook friends. If a new comment is published from a "banned" user or contains a blacklisted word, this comment will automatically have limited visibility (the "banned" user's comments will only be visible to the user and the user's Facebook friends).