Monday, August 22, 2011

Cult of Luna - Cult of Luna (2001)

Cult of Luna’s first full length has a bit more in common with 90’s hardcore (and dare I say metalcore) than post-metal giants like Neurosis or Isis. While this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, both of the aforementioned bands’ early albums were strongly influenced by hardcore, Cult of Luna’s debut has a lot more straightforward hardcore segments than Isis’s Celestial but doesn’t quite capture the glory days of hardcore in the way Neurosis’s Pain of Mind does. The fact that Cult of Luna hovers between these two genres without showing too much favoritism one way or the other will likely be a sticking point for those looking for the type of post-metal the band delivers on Salvation or Somewhere Along the Highway. The album starts off with a strong post-metal feel. A simple guitar line gains heaviness and builds, slows, and then finally culminates about two minutes in as the vocals kick in. Johannes Persson’s vocals lack some of the edge metal aficionados have come to appreciate from death and black metal, but they are nevertheless effective on this album, and I’ve always appreciated the sincerity with which he seems to be singing. That said, the vocals seem restrained even compared to Neurosis, which is fortunately not the case for Cult of Luna’s later offerings.
It seems foolish to discuss this album as a collection of individual songs, because it is often difficult to pinpoint where one track ends and another begins. While this makes many songs in the album seem repetitive, they have a solid sound here, and I don’t mind it much. This album provides excellent background music. It may be ideal to listen to this album as you go about your day, because there isn’t a lot to focus on, but it’s an enjoyable hour of music, even if it seems to drag on when put under a microscope.
The massive fourteen minute long “Sleep” is a fan favorite from this album, and it’s the one track that gestures in the direction Cult of Luna will head on later releases. Equal parts doom metal and ambient post-hardcore, it feels like Neurosis worship, but I can’t fault them too much for this as it’s a damn good interpretation of Neurosis’s sound. Cult of Luna does take a few chances on this release by integrating strings in to a few of these tracks, including “Sleep.” It feels a little like the band is putting all of their ideas out there and seeing what sticks, but I’ve always held to the belief that this was an effective way to approach a first album.
“To Be Remembered,” the track following “Sleep” features a background chorus that gives the song an almost gothic metal feel. Again, Cult of Luna is still learning to walk on this first album, and I appreciate the experimentation, even if this style is never replicated on future releases. It also features the call and refrain style of screaming that will be familiar to anyone who has listened to, like, any good hardcore album ever.
Those looking for a dose of post-metal by way of 90’s hardcore would do well to grab this first album, as it’s a side of Cult of Luna that has been lost since they released Salvation, and, much like Isis did, the band seems intent on evolving more towards the post-metal side of the coin with fewer hardcore influences in each release.
Verdict: Indifference [6.5/10]

No comments: