on 31 March 2009
The demise of the infamous hardcore band Eclipse who, if I'm honest, I've never heard, saw the rise of one of Sweden's most prominent bands to date. Cult Of Luna are comprised of several talented musicians including two guitarists on this effort, Erik Olofsson and Johannes Persson. Both of which play a major role in the success of this effort. Each of the present musicians are here for the sole purpose of entertaining their audience with heavy guitar riffs, huge bass lines and sludge inspired vocals, coming from two separate vocalists, Klas Rydberg and, once again, the multi-talented Johannes Persson. More recently signed to the major label of Earache Records, Cult Of Luna's journey began with this self-titled effort released through Rage of Achilles Records in 2001, some three years after the formation of the band. Having heard all the Cult Of Luna records, it is easy to see the Isis/Neurosis influence on the bands material, especially in the early days like on this effort, `Cult Of Luna'. Eventually, as the band has progressed into their own sound more and more, Cult Of Luna have begun to incorporate post-rock elements into their music, much like Pelican, for example. To many, the band have aged well. Whilst their early records, like this self-titled one, are still good, the latter records make for much better listening as the individuals behind the music have matured into their own. Whilst `Cult Of Luna' isn't the greatest example of the fine work this Swedish outfit puts in to their music, it's not bad either. In order to see a bands progression, you must begin at the beginning, obviously, and in that sense, this record is a must listen to any fans of sludge, or experimental music.
Much like other acts of this nature, Cult Of Luna are no stranger to long songs. Many surpass the average song length of about 3 to 4 minutes. One of which is in excess of 14 minutes, that being the mammoth `Sleep'. Although, in my eyes, there aren't as many stand out moments on the self-titled record as there are on let's say `Somewhere Along The Highway', this is a good example of how to perform at a high level within the progressive/sludge genres. The appealing mixture of elements that this record, and the one's after it, contains is what makes it such a hit. Whether you're into post-hardcore, or heavy guitar induced music, then this record is sure to please. It's heavy use of distortion, as well as crushing vocals, make the ultimate blend of sounds that sludge fans look for when scouting out new music. Cult Of Luna are by no means one dimensional. As the years progress, the Swedish outfit begin to incorporate different aspects of sound into their music. Keyboards and synthesizers begin to have more influence on the soundscapes that Cult Of Luna mould with their ingenious brand of crossover music.
Much like Neurosis, tracks like the mammoth `Sleep' showcase to brilliant effect the talent that is on display. The way in which Cult Of Luna draw the emotive side of their music out using a variety of techniques, like the droning guitars, or the melancholy that the sole violin inspires. The aggressive sound that is portrayed throughout most of the song, and the record in general, is brilliantly suppressed with ease and without warning by the sadness the ambience that takes hold of the soundscapes half way through tracks like 'Sleep' and the spectacular use of the violin throughout, again on `Sleep'. I'd imagine this song would be most highly regarded by fans because of it's diverse nature. Not only is it creatively crushing in terms of the instrumental aspects as shown in the crescendo on tracks like `Sleep` and the majestic leads on `The Sacrifice`, but other aspects of Cult Of Luna make them a surprising hit. Such as the droning of the distorted guitars, or the engulfing waves of the crash and ride cymbals/hi hat but the soundscapes are reliant on a fantastic amount of ambience.
Percussion wise, the job done is much the same as the job the vocals do. The idea appears to be, like Isis or Neurosis do, creating a chaotic, yet impenetrable wall of aggressive noise by means of pounding drums or harsh screamed vocals. Lyrically, Cult Of Luna are said to mainly deal with inner struggles, despair and existentialism. As far as the lyrics goes, I'm not that keen on them because they don't have much of a meaning to me, on a personal level, but that doesn't mean to say they're redundant. One gets a strong impression of the passion behind the lyrics due to the incredible vocals, which never let up. Songs like `The Sacrifice' seem to portray the lyrical themes very well though, so one cannot look upon them as that much of a disappointment to the record.
"Your soul was covered in dirt. The sacrifice was never made. You were unleashed in those days. Now valid to grasp the inner self. Is your heart gonna cave in. Throw your soul into the sea.
All lessons must be taught heart and minds are unified by now. Sweep up all those mistakes. Feed the wide open wound..."
As far as this self-titled effort goes, whilst it is good, it isn't the best they've produced down the years. The vocals can become a tad annoying after a while if you're not in the mood for a fair amount of testosterone filled aggression and the bass isn't as prominent as I'd have expected it to be, this includes the bass drum but to a much lesser extent. Solid nevertheless.