Published Jan 06, 2014Maybe you've heard the story: three weirdo Manitoba doom/black musicians (two from Winnipeg, one from the small town of Morris) team up with Swedish croaker to form a band, release music, never meet in person and have yet to play live. It's an endearing tale, but novel approaches rarely last long in the world of metal, where substance needs to rule over a quirky story. Luckily for Culted, their upcoming album, Oblique to All Paths, proves the band have the tunes to back up the admittedly interesting back story.
Talking to Michael Klassen, who handles guitar and bass in the band, along with fellow Winnipegian Matthew Friesen, the strange, disorienting quality of Culted's music becomes clear.
"I thought the newer [album] was more abstract at times," he tells Exclaim! of Oblique to All Paths, which contains huge, sprawling blackened doom tunes (the first song is 20 minutes long). "It has a couple of 'rock numbers,' more cohesive tracks. But the other ones are more like movements of sound, so I was kind of worried about that. Then I went back and listened to the other record, and it was kind of the same format — you have the longer abstract numbers, then the more confrontational metal songs."
The album follows up 2009's Below the Thunders of the Upper Deep and 2010's Of Death and Ritual EP, and does so with grace and power, the intense doom and craggly black sounds coalescing into something that references Celtic Frost as much as it does Swans. Which makes sense, considering that a road trip to go see Swans was what got Klassen writing again. Well, that, and nap time for the lil' one.
"The impact of that night caused the muse to present itself," he says of his journey to see Swans. "The next day my son was sick, and while we was having his nap, I was like, I'm going to write this record, and I wrote 40 percent of the material in that one two-and-a-half-hour session. It wasn't written in an A-to-Z format, it was this whole mess of riff after riff, and some were tied together, some not."
From there, the Canucks in the band got together and recorded riffs and started arranging them into songs, before sending the tracks to the Swede, Daniel Jansson. Klassen says that Jansson worked on the songs for a few months, then sent them back to Canada to be finished up.
"We'll send him some initial ideas so he kind of can hear the riffs we're writing, and he starts writing lyrics and starts getting ideas on what he wants to touch on," says Klassen. "Then he sends them back, and the bass gets added. Then it's months of getting together and layering the shit out of it [laughs]. A lot of it is editing; you spend a lot of time putting stuff on top. You don't want to say no to anything until you hear it in context. A great deal of mixing is editing out the bullshit."
And with bullshit edited out, the new album is ready to go, backed by underground biggie Relapse Records, who release Oblique to All Paths on January 21.
"We kind of straddle the dissonant, abrasive, more cult-ish stuff with some more listenable metal. We're able to walk that line. We're not completely unlistenable. But maybe a bit," he laughs.