According to the prog rule book, albums should present an absorbing musical journey that transports the listener to alien environs. In truth, most don’t. Cult Of Luna have seldom been afraid to think outside the post-metal box during the decade they’ve been around, and Vertikal – a sprawling concept piece inspired by the bleak-futuristic vision of Fritz Lang’s sci-fi masterpiece Metropolis – again confirms that these Swedes are in a class of one when it comes to blending artful conceits with pitiless sonic bludgeon.
It’s the subtle touches here, whether bursts of hallucinatory synths or a persistent undertow of hissing ambience, that make all the difference. Many bands have hijacked the oppressive slow-motion blueprint laid down by Neurosis two decades ago, but Cult Of Luna’s music has both an idiosyncratic philosophical core and an irresistible air of furious desperation that transcends such comparisons.
More importantly, the emotional weight of songs as vast and fluid as the 18-minute Vicarious Redemption is such that Vertikal conjures an inescapable black hole of dynamic physicality in which its creators’ churning riffs and eerie soundscapes mesmerise and pulverise in equal measure. An instant classic.