Vertikal, however, thrums and vibrates with a new life and presents a remarkable progression of textures, from light and ethereal ambient moments to vast and crushing crescendos.
Isis and Neurosis are the easiest bands to compare Cult of Luna to, with their gradually evolving sound structures that spin their own gravity, accreting sonic mass as their go, building through repetition in great elliptical orbits, breaking down and reforming.
On Vertikal, however, the most immediate parallels that leap to mind are Pelican, for their ability to combine intelligent artfulness with genuine surprise, and Old Man Gloom, for their willingness to delve into to deeper reaches of squalling alienation for the right emotional impact. Vertikal feels but careful and dangerous, precise and in constant danger of breaking open and swallowing itself whole.
Vertikal is based on Fritz Lang's 1927 cinematic masterpiece Metropolis, less in terms of narrative but more in the tone and the texture. Vertikal is a new dream of a dystopian future, one that can be seen much more clearly as the present races to catch up with a once fictional future.
“Mute Departure” Is a close and trapped piece, one that seems to express the claustrophobia of a single cog in the machine, eternally trapped by its shape and role; “In Awe Of” is almost Victorian in its melancholy and melodic longing, but always the emotional is tempered by the technical, the desperate dreams of somnambulant robots.
Vertikal is a challenging and extraordinary album, complex and aching. Like a great city that is also a machine, it has moments of great beauty, technical wonder and a deep, gaping pit of cost and loss. Cult of Luna have created a wondrous musical engine.
(released January 29, 2013 on Density Records)