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4.22 | 15 ratings | 4 reviews
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Album · 2013


1. The One (02:06)
2. I: The Weapon (09:19)
3. Vicarious Redemption (18:44)
4. The Sweep (02:40)
5. Synchronicity (07:13)
6. Mute Departure (09:06)
7. Disharmonia (00:45)
8. In Awe Of (09:56)
9. Passing Through (05:45)

Total Time 65:34

CD bonus track edition:

10. The Flow Reversed (06:46)

Total Time 72:20


- Johannes Persson / guitars, harsh vocals
- Fredrik Kihlberg / guitars, clean vocals
- Anders Teglund / keyboards, samples
- Thomas Hedlund / drums, Percussion
- Andreas Johansson / bass
- Erik Olofsson / guitars
- Magnus Lindberg / percussion

About this release

CD released 25th January 2013 on Indie Recordings (INDIE094CD). CD also released as a limited edition CD with a bonus track.

CD released 2013 on Density Records (WH13) with bonus track.

CD released 2013 in Russia on Fono Ltd. (FO955CD).

12" vinyl limited edition LP released 25th January 2013 on Back on Black (BOBV354LP).

Recorded, mixed and mastered by Magnus Lindberg at Tonteknik Recording and The Vilhelm Room.

Additional recording by Måns Lundberg and Kristian Karlsson.

Designed by Erik Olofsson at SGC&LLLL.

Thanks to UMUR for the addition and Doomster, adg211288, Bosh66 for the updates


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The three Cult of Luna albums I'd heard preceding this - the run from Salvation to Eternal Highway - had all presented enjoyable post-metal soundscapes, but I'd always felt that there was the potential for them to raise the bar a little, and on Vertikal they had just done that. Juxtaposing their trademark sludge metal-derived rants with bleak instrumental passages which really capture the bleak, monochrome sound the band are going for. It particularly comes together on the epic Vicarious Redemption, which comes into slow, juddering life like an engine firing up and doesn't let go once it gets rolling. In short, it's Cult of Luna's best yet.
Vertikal (2013) is the sixth full-length album released by Swedish sludge metal act Cult of Luna. The concept album is the first release from the group since 2010 and the first to not feature co-sounding member Klas Rydberg (vocals). The concept of Vertikal will be concluded in a following EP, Vertikal II.

Cult of Luna plays a style of metal that I must admit I don’t tend to listen to much, but have an increasing interest in – sludge metal. Specifically they play the post-rock infused variant known as atmospheric sludge metal (aka post-metal) with some notable electronic influences (along with some other minor outside elements on Vertikal such as ambient and dubstep) included. My experience with sludge metal of any kind so far has been quite minor with Mastodon being the band I know the most by, and they’re quite far removed from what Cult of Luna is doing on Vertikal. As much as I love the former band though they never managed to inspire me to explore sludge metal properly. Cult of Luna and Vertikal on the other hand could well turn out to be a different matter, as this is really quite astounding work.

The music on the album is incredibility powerful regardless of the direct the band chooses to take it in. At times Vertikal is focused on building a pure and beautiful atmosphere, albeit with more than a trace of melancholy. At others it’s crushingly heavy while the bulk of the vocals are harsh and raw. The mammoth track Vicarious Redemption at nearly nineteen minutes in length is the best showcase of everything that the album stands for, starting off in a purely ambient style before building up into post-rock and then into the sludgy heaviness. And all of this before you’ve even heard a whisper of the vocals. Best of all it never seems to drag. Even when the music just seems to be pushing into droning territory there's never a feeling that you've lost the immersion that the album gives, allowing the generally long track lengths to flow along without a hitch.

Cult of Lune have a sound that requires a great deal of patience to really appreciate, making Vertikal's appeal strictly niche. But there's no denying that Cult of Luna are masters of their craft even if what they do isn't exactly your cup of tea. They can pull off the long songs without breaking a sweat, have an experimental side and prove that metal can be about more than just thrashing away being as aggressive as possible. An exceptional grade rating is deserved.


(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven:
Postmodernist Metropolis

I hate to assume a cold tone, but I always considered Cult of Luna to be more derivative than creative. Even though their branch of sludge/post-metal was somewhat original, mostly due to its polarized post-rock/sludge approach, it lacked true identity. It sounded to me like just another harsher, less emotional and less eclectic version of Neurosis. With Vertikal, the band finally took a leap into compositional boldness, though. Loosely based upon the legendary Metropolis by Fritz Lang, Vertikal is a unique postmodern sludge endeavor.

While Cult of Luna have always been into more diverse, post-rock infused sludge, they put some truly unusual elements into their sound this time round. Embellished with dark new age and contemporary electronica, Vertikal is an album pervaded with austere retro-futuristic ambiance of a modernist sci-fi literature. It might not be a groundbreaking effort, but it's one of the more consistent and original sludge albums I've heard in the past few years. Simplistic nature of sludge, post-rock emotionalism and industrial coldness complement each other smoothly on Vertikal. The original concept was used to create a distinct atmosphere rather than a story and I think it works much better that way. Music is mostly about creating a non-verbal impact, isn't it? Hence, as befits a piece of art, the quality of Vertikal cannot be justly measured. For a sludge album, it certainly stands out as something that managed to stay visceral and organic despite its industrial nature.

I consider Vertikal to be the most accomplished and original album from Cult of Luna so far. Due to the direct approach to its various elements, it stays fresh and accessible throughout, despite the hermetic and inaccessible nature of sludge metal itself. It's an excellent addition to any modern metal music collection and a must-have for any sludge and post-metal fan.
Phonebook Eater

Pixillated Sludge Metal That Still Rocks.

At their sixth album, Cult Of Luna once again keep their roots solidly untouched, experimenting more with sound and exploring new sonic territories they’d yet to venture in. “Vertikal” hasn’t pleased all fans because of these reasons, or because it’s been thought that these new ideas haven’t been developed in a better way. Opinions vary, but in my eyes this is one of the better albums by the Swedish band, and it’s good to see that experimentation in Metal bands today is still very embraced.

On this new album, Cult Of Luna take a step forward especially with the sonic decorations, these bursts of electronic layering that in the past were present, excellent, but not essential, are now pretty prominent, and sound quite different as well: the rough production creates these razor-sharp synth pulses that come and go throughout the album, some of them are not at all accompaniments and play a major, if not completely essential role for a track. This peculiarly rough production compliments also the crushing guitars, here more crushing than any other Cult Of Luna LP so far, and that is saying a lot.

But Cult Of Luna have not distanced themselves from their original style enough to not sound like Cult Of Luna: the riffs are overall crafted in the same fashion as their previous compositions, and anyone who has heard their previous work can confirm.

As for the album itself: it’s an album that at first feels a little generic and familiar, but with further listens, it reveals a sophistication that was heard only on the band’s better albums. Every song has its unique role, and they all do the job done well, some times, excellently. “I, The Weapon” and “Synchronicity” are the catchiest and at the same time better structured songs, in spite of the eighteen minute monster “Vicarious Redemption”, which is nicely arranged and structured but doesn’t quite justify its length. “Mute Departure” has nice, heavy moments, “The Sweep” is an interesting divisive interlude of the album and “Passing Through” closes everything quite well, a calm, tense piece that ends it all with a suspended note.

“Vertical” is the living proof that Cult Of Luna have not stepped down their game just yet, and are willing meander into new paths and directions, sounding a whole lot more interesting than many Sludge Metal bands today, who merely model a sound that is perhaps too familiar nowadays.

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