Culted: Oblique To All Paths

Inter-continental sludge alliance fails to gel on album number two

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Culted’s ‘unique selling point’ – if such it be deemed – is that despite existing since 2007 the quartet have never played live, never rehearsed together, indeed never even actually met. This album was patched together by sending files via email between Gothenburg (vocalist Daniel Jansson’s home) and Winnipeg, Canada (where the others live).

But while this might sound like a troublesome setup, inhibiting chemistry and spontaneity, this sort of cryptic, blackened sludge potentially benefits from a sense of disjointedness and alienation in the creative process. It hasn’t done Culted much good, alas, as Oblique To All Paths meanders aimlessly through an over-familiar soundscape of leaden riffs, distorted gargles and kitchen-sink ambient noise, interminably belabouring its low-budget pretensions toward atmospheric profundity.

Of course it’s always fun to rub bits of lo-fi black metal grimnity against stretchy, plodding post-metal jams and garnish with spooky horror sound effects, but bands like Burning Witch, Esoteric and Yob long ago perfected the kind of crushing, post-apocalyptic hypno-doom effect that Culted are shakily aiming for.

Chris has been writing about heavy metal since 2000, specialising in true/cult/epic/power/trad/NWOBHM and doom metal at now-defunct extreme music magazine Terrorizer. Since joining the Metal Hammer famileh in 2010 he developed a parallel career in kids' TV, winning a Writer's Guild of Great Britain Award for BBC1 series Little Howard's Big Question as well as writing episodes of Danger Mouse, Horrible Histories, Dennis & Gnasher Unleashed and The Furchester Hotel. His hobbies include drumming (slowly), exploring ancient woodland and watching ancient sitcoms.