Culted – Oblique to All Parts

With the internet homogenizing the world’s various music scenes, it’s easier than ever for outsiders, such as experimental doom rock enthusiasts and black metal purists, to find each other across the globe and form bands. In the case of Cultist, Swedish vocalist Daniel Jansson started working with three former members of Canadian band Of Human Bondage after connecting with them in 2007 via MySpace messages.

Like the band’s 2009 debut album, Below the Thunders of the Upper Deep, its newest offering, Oblique to All Paths, was strung together via sound files shared over the internet. This allowed bandmates to stay in their respective countries throughout the process. In fact, Jansson has never even met the other three members of Cultist face to face.

The trans-Atlantic partnership’s latest ode to their shared influences opens and closes with a couple of eerie slow-burners: “Brooding Hex” and “Jeremiad.” Amid the noise hive on both “demonic possession during a Scandinavian blizzard” soundscapes are creepy, gang-style backup vocals resembling how I assume Legion, the demon that possessed the Maniac of Gadara in the Bible (Mark 5:1-10), sounded, instead of the soulful choirs or hyper-masculine mobs of European soccer fans channeled for other types of rock music.

In between is more variety than you might expect, from the swampy, sample-filled “Distortion of the Nature of Mankind,” to the heavy riffs that carry the sound of “Illuminati.” Another high spot is “March of the Wolves,” a rage-filled, sludgy stoner metal jam that, while noticeably different from the other tracks, still fits the album’s flow.  The high point, though, has to be “Transmittal,” an 11-plus minute mini-opera, with different parts and tempo changes that show off the range of this group’s skills and influences.

The closest thing to a low point is the 10-plus minute “Intoxicant Immuration,” which, despite its black mass feel and debt of gratitude to Celtic Frost, is neither as captivating nor frightening as the opening and closing track.

Overall, these seven smoldering tracks from below should make metal fans view the web and its influence on modern music and recording techniques as a gift from above.

Oblique to All Paths