It’s always fun to consider the anomalous nature of Culted, whose wild nasty music comes together through the method of recording individual parts in separate locations around the world. It may be a rarity for this four piece to meet in person, but their intuitiveness could well insinuate some kind of otherworldly psychic link-up. Culted is a perturbed, volatile and ominous beast. They have their own way of doing things. It works.
All of this is apparent when listening to their previous releases, particularly in the case of 2013’s fully mesmerizing Oblique to All Paths. Six years later, we can consider Vespertina Synaxis – A Prayer for Union & Emptiness the smaller, but feistier, long-awaited follow up. Its run time means it falls into mini-album territory, but perhaps this is a hint that Culted are only just getting restarted. Perhaps their signing to Season of Mist heralds a kind of musical re-awakening. The record, though swift, is a substantial and altogether scary-as-hell return to form.
That scariness opens up in the intro track, “A Prayer for Union”. What can I even say about this? It’s like a sort of sped-up Sunn O))) number, possessing only the subtlest of melody, while the rest of its bulk is comprised of foreboding speech and cascading growls. Straight away, the novelty of their fragmented recording methods simmer away. Suddenly the name, Culted, seems very apt, and it’s hard not to get drawn in at this point.
From this we move onto the main centerpiece “Dirt Black Chalice”, and anyone desperately waiting for this album to come out may have already sampled the four-minute ‘short’ version of this track. It’s all fun and games, but you really need to hear the ten-minute big one for full effect. Blackened doom is the right term, but it’s the stops and starts, the opening and closure, and all those mightily eerie layers in between which really mark the song’s true form. Yet still it turns out to be the most conventional moment of the record, as clarified in the hypnotic and marginally tribal sounds of the record’s closing act. “A Prayer for Emptiness”.
At work here is a deceptively technical craft, and like many of our favorite modern monolithic doomy drone bands, Culted have mastered the secret of utilizing noise as an art form. Steady metal tempos occupy only a small portion of Vespertina Synaxis – A Prayer for Union & Emptiness. As a whole, this miniature burst of ravenous energy is more of an intense showcase of dark sounds, masterfully blended through a heightened knowledge of music and musical production. Anybody with even the slightest understanding of these things cannot overlook the genius of Culted‘s work, even if musically, it holds no appeal to those individuals.
After the epic progressions of Oblique to All Paths, some may find this new release a little skinny, but let’s be patient, because what we do get is a super raw bout of solidity. It’s a new start on a new label, and if Culted do intend to go on this way, then the future is bright. Or should I say ‘bleak’? Through and through, they have successfully reminded us of the value of their presence, and shown that they simply don’t have it in them to stagnate, no matter how much time elapses.