Cult of Luna have long been sonic architects with the majority of vocals favored as more of the percussive whole of their sound, save for some acoustic versions and certain passages you’re mostly remembering them for well executed, if Neurosis indebted staggered screams atop ingenious arrangements. And while her howls are already the stuff of legend, the most distinctive aspect of Julie Christmas‘ voice is her nursery rhyme-esque sense of melody delivered with the sophistication of a whip smart and no bullshit taking lady with street smarts. You’re never sure if you’re listening to a biographical or fantastical window into life’s estrangements.
The combination of Cult Of Christmas is winning, fit to score a space opera or serve well in a fight sequence between Punisher and Daredevil in an urban locale with equal potency.
Put these parties together and you have quite the remarkable pairing which will make fans of any of the artist’s current or past related projects gush. 5 lengthy songs that build on the success of Vertikal with further exploration of cosmic metaphor, psyche and innerspace.
“A Greater Call” starts things boldly. It begins as a breeze-think the spacious reverence in some of the more ambient Gospel Of The Witches stuff- but by 6:20 the march (which builds to something akin in bruising force to Kylesa’s recent “Crusher”) has become laced with inter stellar prog psychedelia atop sludge space debris. The void is yawning but still you are proceeding unhindered.
“Chevron” is one of the best tracks, a Made Out Of Babies/KEN Mode/Jesus Lizard worthy bassline clattering up to knock on the buzzing noise-rock pop of the pre-chorus section as shrewd as any of the stuff on GVSB’s Freak*On*Ica (which went over people’s heads at the time). This album won’t have the same problem, as the general sophistication level of the people seeking out this type of stuff has hopefully been strengthened through internet access to the history of the sub genres involved (Mike from Yob and I were talking about that subject the last time I interviewed him).
“The Wreck Of S.S.Needle” will likely please Battle Of Mice fans the most, daringly catchy yet sure to make you seasick with emotional unease, ferocious performances from all involved; life time landmark performance type shit that must have been intense for all involved to create. It’s big.
“Approaching Transition” cools you down initially after the exhausting thrill of the prior track, thirteen minutes that start out far more chilled out than anything we have heard yet. Things almost feel Alan Parsons or really sci-fi for a minute in a way Zombi or Goblin fans will appreciate. This is one of the more proggy tracks here, something at first you could almost imagine being part of Emerson Lake and Palmer’s range at first if they got more into Tool, or at least Rush’s Test For Echo if it was more on he post-metal side. The song is good but really drifts expansively, so brace yourself.
“Cygnus” is a dissonant and intense wonder, thumping with a rhythm that could almost be slowed down ragtime married to noise rock if it weren’t so damn metal yet in a truly avant-garde and beastly fashion.The best pay off riff of the record arrives at 1:38 (naturally) after a semi-possessed verse from Christmas. Melodic yet bossy riffing of the stompiest order and drums that sheerly hammer home with the most vigor since Kowloon Walled City’s last record. Shit, the extra layer of sound around the three minute mark is gorgeous as well. You’ll know what I’m talking about when you hear it. I don’t want to spoil it. But you might experience causal domain sheer by the end. Which is kind of like being a fan of real underground music anyway, as we live in our own little dimensions and tribes on the outskirts of mainstream culture.
Christmas really shows growth on this song, something rarely seen with her because she is already so good! But she proves, like on The Bad Wife, that she still puts herself into every song with a lot of passion. And the band plays on like seasoned champs.
Don’t want to say much more. You should probably hear it yourselves.