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Cult of Luna - Cult Of Luna CD (album) cover

CULT OF LUNA

Cult of Luna

 

Experimental/Post Metal

3.08 | 28 ratings

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CassandraLeo
5 stars The conventional wisdom about Cult of Luna's self-titled début album is that it's a less sophisticated and dynamic affair than the band's later material. This is actually almost entirely wrong; the band goes through nearly as many dynamic shifts as on any of their later material, and the band's slowly evolving post-metal soundscapes were already fully formed on this release. It is a bit of an oddity in their discography, due to a larger hardcore punk and doom metal influence, and it is substantially heavier than their later material, but by no means should anyone think of this release as musically unsophisticated. In fact, while Salvation and Somewhere Along the Highway are deservingly regarded as two of the best albums post-metal has to offer, their début nonetheless contains some of the band's best work.

A case in point can be found with the second track, "Hollow". It opens with a crushing sludge metal riff and some of the most frantic drumming to be found anywhere in the genre. It is not, however, by any means a musically unsophisticated composition; it evolves slowly over its ten-minute running time and the slow evolution pays off for a patient listener. The album's centrepiece, "Sleep", is even better; it almost rivals the composition of the same name from Godspeed You! Black Emperor's Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven in quality. After a heartbreaking intro featuring some superb doom riffing, what sounds like a sombre viola, and the highly effective shrieks of vocalist Klas Ryberg, the piece gradually lowers in intensity until suddenly it returns to the intensity of the song's crushing opening. The effectiveness of this reprisal cannot possibly be overstated; after seven superb full-length albums, this song remains one of the finest in Cult of Luna's discography.

A song-by-song review would be superfluous; while the album has substantial dynamic shifts, it maintains a similar mood throughout, which can make it inaccessible to listeners who are not willing to give this album the attention it deserves. However, it will reward listeners who do so; there is some superb music here, with the only significant flaw being the "loudness war" mastering (which is a problem on Cult of Luna's other releases, too, so it's nothing new, although it does seem slightly worse here). I would rank this in Cult of Luna's top four albums, alongside the aforementioned Salvation and Somewhere Along the Highway, as well as Mariner, their collaboration with Julie Christmas. This is almost flawless post-metal and, to me, represents a landmark of the genre alongside the high points of Neurosis and Isis.

CassandraLeo | 5/5 |

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