CULT OF LUNA — Vertikal (review)

CULT OF LUNA — Vertikal album cover Album · 2013 · Atmospheric Sludge Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
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.
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