Cult of Luna
I sometimes consider Cult of Luna’s continuance as a marker of how quickly time seems to have flown. I remember them coming to my attention of 2003’s ‘The Beyond’, and it seems they’ve quietly but successfully meandered their way through the years. Never settling down to conform to one particular theme, be it dissention, male loneliness, or spiritual, the Umea, Sweden septet have now taken another step forward with their sixth album ‘Vertikal’, set loosely to Fritz Lang’s 1927 silent movie classic ‘Metropolis’, itself set in a future urban dystopia and recently restored. The band stated that they were going for themes of ‘machinery, repetition and clear, linear structures’ with this release, and achieve it with stunning precision.
Indeed, if there was ever an opening for an alternative soundtrack to the film, then ‘Vertikal’ would have to be a strong contender, as right from the word go it creates that creepy overarching feeling of living in such a world. The centrepiece of the whole album is the 18-minute plus ‘Vicarious Redemption’, a song with captures the mood of dystopia absolutely perfectly. You can literally picture yourself surrounded by empty streets filled with high-rise buildings, the dark grey clouds rolling in the barely visible skies, every corner punctuated by fear and oppression. The droning sounds in the wind, the firm footsteps that echo off the ground as you walk. Cult of Luna create this scene with perfection, taking a full seven and a half minutes before they ‘Synchronicity’ marches to a militaristic, metronomic beat, every bit as compelling as the factions that govern such societies. ‘Mute Departure’ powers through as rhythmically and smoothly as you like, dropping the hammer for now departed Klas Rydberg’s fearsome roar amidst the power surge in the guitars. From start to finish, there’s not a dull moment, every moment of quiet providing the tension for the band to bounce back into the burner.
Cult of Luna – Synchronicity
The closing ‘Passing Through’, with its refrain of ‘time is passing me by’, is not just perhaps a lamentation to close ‘Vertikal’s story, but also a fitting song for Rydberg to depart. Too often concept albums fall flat on their backside through a failure to convey their concept properly. This often falls on the lyrics, but Cult of Luna makes it about the music as much as anything verbal. The lyrics are just as befitting as on any CoL record, but, like on ‘Vicarious Redemption’, the whole record puts you in the zone. Its bleak, its repetitious, its cold and yet wonderfully atmospheric, heavy in more ways than one, but never gratuitously. ‘Vertikal’ has been five years in the making, but it’s like Cult of Luna have never been away; such is their effortless ease in creating majesty in their music. Right now, this is the best thing to emerge from 2013 – don’t hesitate to embroil yourself in this fearsome parallel.