Cult of Luna – Vertikal II by Ben Spencer

Rating: 3.5/5
Distributor/ Label: Indie Recordings

Band Line up:
Johannes Persson – Guitars and Vocals
Magnus Lindberg – Drums and Studio-Engineering
Erik Olofsson – Guitars
Andreas Johansson – Bass
Anders Teglund – Keyboards and Electronics
Fredrik Kihlberg – Guitars and Vocals
Thomas Hedlund – Drums and Percussion

Album Track listing:
01 Oro
02 Light Chaser
03 Shun The Mask
04 Vicarious Redemption (Remix by Justin K Broadri

Following from one of the band’s most positively received and mature sounding releases in 2013, Vertikal II is the second dose of their previous album, carrying forward many of the themes of machinery and linear structures that were found earlier this year in Vertikal.

Playing out in a similar fashion to what was found before, ‘Oro’ intrudes with desolate instrumental passages and a visceral approach to clean vocals. This was an interesting starting point for a band whose sound is for the most part loaded with blistering screams and shrieks. The gradual build up sheds its skin to more heavier territory around halfway through, revealing that this band certainly haven’t diluted their sound into a commercial outfit.

‘Light Chaser’ is where things really start to take flight. With an interesting use of clean guitars and electronic samples, it certainly fit’s the bill of the concepts being explored in this EP. The drum work feels more distinctive in its mechanical tonality with deep throated shrieks running alongside adding to the overall density of the track.

The longest running and eeriest sounding beast on this record comes from the 11 minute long ’Shun The Mask’. A track that conjures an array of bleak images through its passages. The drumming and guitars depict a sense of foreboding in the distorted sections, whilst throwing in more synth focused interludes for good measure.

Finally, Justin K Broadrick, performs a remix of ‘Vicarious Redemption’ (a track found from the original Vertikal release). Surprisingly, this rendition takes a completely different route than anything I’ve heard from Cult of Luna previously, with a strong acoustic backbone, laced together with dark lit sounding delicacies. This not only felt like a good place to tail the EP off with, but it was also interesting to see something expected during the final moments. The vocals burst out with distortion around halfway through as the dark lit ambience disperses in a subtle yet alluring manner.

Final word, What’s great to see about this band is their constant ability to new stuff out of the bag without churning out what was covered in their previous endeavours. They are sounding better and more cohesive than ever and manage to keep things interesting throughout.

The only downside is that the vocals do become somewhat tiresome after a while, with a lack range it remains wholly upon the instrumentation to carry things forward. This being said there were a couple of occasions where the songs ventured down some unexpected avenues and it will be interesting to see what direction the band will take from here.