"some music was meant to stay underground..."

Culted - "Beyond the Thunders of the Upper Deep" (CD)

Culted - "Beyond the Thunders of the Upper Deep" CD cover image

"Beyond the Thunders of the Upper Deep" track listing:

1. Tyrant Cold (9:56)
2. Social Control (4:50)
3. Place of Skulls (8:58)
4. Heel On Your Neck (3:15)
5. Gunburn (12:41)
6. The Latter Fire (6:43)

Reviewed by on November 8, 2009

"Culted definitely has potential, but their debut album, while well played, just does not have enough substance to be interesting."

With thick, depressed riffs, agonizing vocals, and weird, eerie synth effects, Culted is obviously going for the esoteric doom sound on their debut, “Beyond the Thunders of the Upper Deep.” While the album is indeed very dark and gloomy, it doesn’t really stand out much in the doom scene and is seriously lacking in substance to be notable.

The band mixes non-distorted guitar work with very distorted riffs, adding exponentially to the mysterious atmosphere. They also utilize some strange, dark synth work (especially at the very end of “The Latter Fire”). The drumming is pretty basic and cymbal heavy, but is almost unnoticeable in certain sections of the album. The vocals are very high and distorted and sound almost painful (and are, at times, painful to listen to). The band creates a decent atmosphere at the start of the album, but this mood dwindles considerably.

While not strictly funeral doom, the band leans more towards blackened doom that sounds very Esoteric-like. This is fine, but the biggest difference between “Beyond the Thunders of the Upper Deep” and an Esoteric album is substance. This album has all the basic elements for esoteric doom, but there are sections of music (some long ones at that) that are not nearly thick enough and, unfortunately, rather boring.

A good example of this is with “Gunburn.” The song starts out with a basic riff and some anguish-filled rasping. This gets boring after about three minutes. Luckily, the band picks it up a little bit at this point, but the combination of the instruments are still not thick enough to provide for an interesting song. This is a huge issue, as this song is over twelve minutes long.

Culted definitely has potential, but their debut album, while well played, just does not have enough substance to be interesting. In a genre where the songs plod more than anything, this is absolutely crucial. Hopefully, their next release will be much thicker.

Highs: Well played, contains all the key ingredients for esoteric doom.

Lows: Very lacking in substance, not thick enough.

Bottom line: Blackened doom that gets old fast.

Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls
2.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)