Culted Below the Thunders of the Upper Deep

Displaying remarkable fluidity for an album purportedly assembled piece by piece via email by both Canadian and Swedish members, Below the Thunders of the Upper Deep boasts a tarry, suffocating atmosphere and the wafer-thin production values one would expect from an average bedroom black metal project. That doesn't stop it from leaving a bleak impression on the listener, who is swept into the album's sooty, foreboding chokehold immediately and not returned to consensus reality until the record's final moments. The group don't shy away from doom, of the blackened and crushing variety, but they leave enough breathing room within the tracks to let the oppressiveness of it all sink in. The vocals are unapologetic black metal shrieks, punctuating the mix regularly for a generic, but necessary, reprieve from the album's sometimes lethargic pacing. While not quite there yet, in terms of leaving a lasting impression, songwriting-wise, Culted have an understanding of ambience and a deliberateness to their delivery that leave one with heightened hopes for a more developed follow-up. (Relapse)