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Cult of Luna - Somewhere Along The Highway -2006 - Earache Records

Track Listing
1. Marching to the Heartbeats
2. Finland
3. Back to Chapel Town
4. And With Her Came The Birds
5. Thirtyfour
6. Dim
7. Dark City, Dead Man
When ‘post-rock’, ‘Neurosis-core’, ‘sludge’, etc., metal is concerned, the burning question is not whether the music is good—it almost invariably is—but rather, whether it is unique. This field has a stubborn tendency to adhere to the same structure for every song, resulting in a deluge of new bands who cannot really be called ‘bad’, but who bring absolutely nothing new to the field.

So, the challenge facing Cult of Luna with their new album ‘Somewhere Along the Highway’ is not to make simply ‘good’ music, but to make music that distinguishes them from a horde of competent contenders.

And they have, in fine, fine form. ‘Somewhere Along the Highway’ marks the band’s most diverse and emotionally charged offering to date. As with much music in this style, this album takes repeated listening to digest, but the eventual reward more than makes up for the initial effort.

Soundscape metal is always seeking a poignant balance between the cleansing catharsis of giant waves of low-end guitars and the tempering melancholy of an ethereal, droning melody. It is the ubiquitous formula seen in nearly every song written in this style. What Cult of Luna have realized here is that the magical balance is not always struck by writing each song as a crescendo, starting quietly and ending with a prolonged crash. Instead, it comes through honesty and genuine character, both things ‘Somewhere Along the Highway’ have in spades.

Since their debut, Cult of Luna have had some line-up changes, but the musical vision of founding members Klas Rydberg (vocals) and Johannes Person (guitar) has remained consistently tangible in a genre fraught with crippling esotericism. ‘Somewhere Along The Highway’ executes the genre-standard crescendo as well as anyone, but it also reaches out to the audience on other, unsuspected levels. Folk instrumentation, subtle though it may be, gives a refreshing, earnest feel to the album, and keeps the more abstract moments from being overwrought or long-winded. Also surprising is the drumming of new member Thomas Hedlund. So often, in atmospheric post-rock, drumming is either monotonous or overly progressive simply for its own sake, but Hedlund’s style is faintly jazzy, including some gentle syncopation—distinct without being overbearing.

Also, now that one of their member’s is a full time ‘sound engineer’, Cult of Luna have introduced a relatively bold electronic element into their material. Though keys make an obvious appearance but once, and that only at the song’s end, their inclusion marks an interesting paradigm shift, as few bands, if any, playing soundscape metal use such tools.

The vocals of Rydberg have been remarkably consistent over the years, and he still sounds nothing so much as a burly mountain man bellowing his anguish and joy to a cold, empty landscape. Which is, most likely, just how it happened.

To conclude succinctly, what makes ‘Somewhere Along The Highway’ a truly significant album is its ability to explore complex issues with remarkable economy. Cult of Luna is the musical Steinbeck: simple on the surface, vastly complex beneath, starkly painting the human condition with words we can all understand.



--Etiam 09.03.06
Maximum Metal Rating Legend - Click for Full Details
5 Excellent - Buy it and say a prayer to the metal gods that you were tuned on to this masterpiece. A classic.
4-4.5 Great - Almost perfect records but there's probably a clunker or a lacking somewhere to keep it from perfection. You won't feel bad about dropping some bones on these.
3.5 Good - Most of the record is good, but there may be some filler. This is the OK range where you'd search for the record on sale or used.
3 Average - Some good songs, some bad ones at about a half/half ratio. Could show skills but be dull overall. Redeeming qualities for indy bands are effort and passion. Majors that don't try or suck outright end up here.
2-2.5 Fair - Worth a listen, but best obtained by collectors. There is much better metal out there.
1-1.5 Bad - Major problems with music, lyrics, production, etc.
0 Terrible or an otherwise waste of your life and time.

Note: Reviews are graded from 0-5, anything higher or not showing is from our old style. Scores, however, do not reveal the important features. The written review that accompanies the ratings is the best source of information regarding the music on our site. Reviewing is opinionated, not a qualitative science, so scores are personal to the reviewer and could reflect anything from being technically brilliant to gloriously cheesy fun.

Demos and independent releases get some slack since the bands are often spent broke supporting themselves and trying to improve. Major releases usually have big financial backing, so they may be judged by a heavier hand. All scores can be eventually adjusted up or down by comparison of subsequent releases by the same band. We attempt to keep biases out of reviews and be advocates of the consumer without the undo influence of any band, label, management, promoter, etc.

The best way to determine how much you may like certain music is to listen to it yourself.



ALL FULL REVIEWS FOR: CULT OF LUNA
CD
TITLE BAND
DOR
REVIEWER DATE
Somewhere Along The HighwayCult of Luna
2006
Etiam9/8/2006


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