Cult of Luna had been building towards something great since their first two albums, which weren’t amazing but were better than a lot of the post-metal bands that get trotted out as exemplars of the genre. All of their good ideas finally came together in Salvation, and, in a way, the brilliance of that album set up their failure in Somewhere Along the Highway.
Salvation was an excellent amalgam of the hardcore leanings of the
first two albums and the brooding intensity of Neurosis, Somewhere Along
the Highway just feels like a perfunctory follow up to a great album.
It has a lot of the elements that made their earlier work so
successful, but it falls flat and feels unpolished. It’s missing the je
ne sais quoi that separates great albums from the rest, but, despite
all of my harsh words here, it’s not offensively bad; it’s just
Along the Highway frequently commits the unforgivable sin, something that is
almost endemic to the genre (and really shouldn’t be); it is boring.
Cult of Luna again creates long, far-reaching ambient soundscapes
interspersed with moments of heaviness, but the two aspects of the music
don’t blend or exist on any type of continuum as they did on previous
albums; the heavier passages don’t interact well with the slower
sections, and the whole album feels incoherent and wasteful as a result.
Somewhere Along the Highway doesn’t really get going until well into
“Finland,” the second track, and when it does finally build up momentum,
it’s too little too late.
are some good bits here, even if it does not work as a coherent album
as well as it should. “And With Her Came the Birds,” for instance, is a slower track with a southern bent that wouldn’t feel out of place on a
Cobalt or Murder by Death album. It features twangy guitar and low
pitched, almost whispered clean vocals. It’s not what I want to listen
to when I reach for a Cult of Luna album, but it’s moody and well done,
as is a good portion of the following song, “Thirtyfour.”
opens with a single, effective riff and builds off of it, as most good
Cult of Luna songs do. This track comes the closest on the album to
capturing the magic of previous albums. The heavy guitars and almost
hypnotic drumming coalesce with the more free form passages to provide
the perfect example of what this album should have sounded like and
perhaps could have sounded like if it had just been given a bit more
time for improvement. Likewise, there are moments of brilliance in
“Dark City Dead Man,” the closer.
is certainly not a bad album, but given the strength of previous
releases, it should have been a hell of a lot better. For the
uninitiated, this would be an excellent first Cult of Luna album. It
shows off a glimpse of what makes the band worth listening to, and it
can be followed up with The Beyond or Salvation without making Somewhere
Along the Highway look insignificant in comparison.
Verdict: Indifference [6.5/10]