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Culted – Vespertina Synaxis: A Prayer for Union & Emptiness

Vespertina Synaxis: A Prayer for Union & Emptiness
by Santiago Puyol at 02 October 2019, 12:23 AM

CULTED is a Swedish-Canadian Industrial Black Metal collective formed in 2008 as a collaboration that goes beyond frontiers and across the ocean. They have released two albums and one EP, with "Vespertina Synaxis: A Prayer for Union & Emptiness" being their second EP/mini-disc. Their sound brings elements of Doom Metal, Folk, Noise, Post-Metal and Experimental music touches to the more traditional Industrial and Black Metal style.

"A Prayer for Union" is a weird mood-setter that stirs the line between Noise-tingled composition and sound collage. Acoustic guitar strumming, spoken word fragments, reverb-drenched vocals and distorted dissonance make the backbone of the track. It is quite reminiscent of the more meandering tracks of GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR and it would not be entirely out of place on the darker SIGUR RÓS albums. Aaron Turner’s Avant-Garde outfit MAMIFFER feels like a kindred project.

"A Prayer for Union" flows perfectly into the doomy "Dirt Black Chalice," a ten-and-a-half-minute epic. Repetitive guitar patterns pop in and out, while subdue harsh vocals float above and in between the soundscapes. Kevin Stevenson’s drum kit keeps it grounded. Without being complex, it manages to provide a sense of motion to the track and keeps up with the shifts in tempo and time signature. It builds into pure noise, disappearing in it, before turning into acoustic strumming with muffled, ghostly vocals.

"A Prayer for Emptiness" opens up with deep organ and bass-heavy keyboards. Creaking percussion and echoey guitars enter, building up tension as demonic vocals vaguely rise among the instrumentals. It carries an enormous amount of momentum, moving slowly but steadily towards its disturbing and creepy non-explosion. The greatest trick in this song is that it never really bursts, it dissolves into a wall of pure noise. A lonely organ and a hypnotic bassline are all there is left once the noise settles down. It certainly feels empty.

Noise is key in what makes Culted interesting and unique. The band uses noise as a part of its sound palette, and it works to their advantage. "Vespertina Synaxis" is a great example of how to create a mood and an atmosphere. It is a dense, heavy and moody affair, filled with hair-rising creaks, shrieks, pops and screams. Each little noise is as important here as each plucked string, pulsed key, pounded drum or clean/growled vocal line.

There is a sense of communion and mystique in the music, an esoteric feel that the band is clearly going for. They succeed, providing an excellent soundtrack to disturbing yet hauntingly beautiful imagery. Each player seems to operate under the sense that his own contribution is equally important to the whole as any other. Culted certainly feel more like a collective – or a cult, if you may – rather than a band in the traditional sense.

Being just a 27-minute-long EP certainly helps, as its approach to songwriting is completely non-traditional and it can be quite dense if you are not exactly on the mood. Still, this impressive project pushes forward what it is to make music and brings into question the line between sound and noise.

Songwriting: 10
Originality: 8
Memorability: 6
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. A Prayer for Union
2. Dirt Black Chalice
3. A Prayer for Emptiness
Matthew Friesen – Guitars, Bass, Keyboards, Noise & Percussion
Michael Klassen – Guitars, Bass, Keyboards, Noise & Percussion
Kevin Stevenson – Drums
Daniel Jansson – Vocals & Noise
Record Label: Season of Mist


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