Cult Of Luna - A Dawn To Fear review




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Reviewer:
9.3

141 users:
8.38
Band: Cult Of Luna
Album: A Dawn To Fear
Release date: September 2019


01. The Silent Man
02. Lay Your Head To Rest
03. A Dawn To Fear
04. Nightwalkers
05. Lights On The Hill
06. We Feel The End
07. Inland Rain
08. The Fall


With the demise of Isis at the end of the noughties, Cult Of Luna have arguably been the dominant force in post-metal this decade, having already dropped two monumental efforts. Vertikal and Mariner have set a high standard to live up to; thankfully, A Dawn To Fear has no issues matching up to its predecessors.

Operating within a genre that has at times been maligned for saturation and excessive similarity, Cult Of Luna have successfully imbued each of their releases with its own distinct personality, with Somewhere Along The Highway warmer and more delicate than the menace of Salvation and its sludgier predecessors, and Eternal Kingdom feeling somewhat more immediate and song-driven. The same is true for Vertikal, with its cold, mechanical atmosphere inspired by the classic silent film Metropolis, and Mariner, most notable for the guest vocal contributions of Julie Christmas of Battle Of Mice fame; however, Christmas aside, I felt like these two were arguably the most similar of Cult Of Luna's albums to date, primarily due to the synth/electronics-dominated atmospheres of each record. When "The Silent Man" dropped back in May, with its driving riffs, post-rock tremolo guitars and dramatic organ-dominated second half, it was immediately apparent that A Dawn To Fear would not just be more of the same. Across its colossal 80-minute runtime, Cult Of Luna once again demonstrate new sides to their sound, whilst at the same time drawing on aspects already displayed throughout their past 20 years as a collective.

"Lay Your Head To Rest", the second single and track on the record, reminds me of the Vertikal/Vertikal II era, most notably tracks such as "Light Chaser", with its relentless percussive march. Conversely, "Inland Rain" feels like a callback to Salvation and particularly Somewhere Along The Highway. At the same time, there is plenty on display to distinguish the album from its predecessors. Arguably most striking is the aforementioned use of organ here, adding a completely new flavour to the likes of "The Silent Man" and the brooding title track. Additionally, the percussionists have really upped their game; rhythms such as those powering "The Silent Man"'s intro/outro and the midsection of "Nightwalkers" are new territory for the band, and add distinct feels to these tracks. Finally, the epic centrepiece of the album, "Lights On The Hill", is imbued with a sorrowful pathos that Cult Of Luna have rarely, if ever, approached on past records, with the possible exception of "Following Betulas".

There is an awful lot to dissect on A Dawn To Fear; I could spend a whole extra paragraph identifying similarities and novelties compared with past albums. Instead, I'll more directly state what makes it so excellent. For such a long album, it remains truly engrossing and compelling throughout, with a remarkable consistency in quality across the tracklist, which has been consummately curated so that the softer parts, hookier riffs and crushing heaviness each come and go at the perfect moment to avoid any staleness creeping in. Honestly, I'm struggling to find any particular weaknesses; perhaps the quiet "We Feel The End" or the bookending sections of "Lights On The Hill" could be trimmed? On the flip side, the highlights of a stellar tracklist are the aforementioned opener "The Silent Man" and 15-minute "Lights On The Hill", which lives up to previous epics such as "Vicarious Redemption", as well as the awesome closer "The Fall", similar in length, atmosphere and quality to "Dark City Dead Man".

To be honest, up to about a month ago, 2019 had been a pretty dry year for me; a lot of very good releases, but nothing I would consider truly great. However, after recent strong releases from Tool and Disillusion, the quality has finally arrived. A Dawn To Fear is going to take an awful lot of beating as far as my Album of the Year goes, and may well be Cult Of Luna's most rounded effort since Somewhere Along The Highway.


Rating breakdown
Performance: 9
Songwriting: 9
Originality: 8
Production: 10


 



Written on 21.09.2019 by I'm just a guy with an opinion.


Comments

Comments: 6   Visited by: 141 users
21.09.2019 - 16:46
Peasant
Excellent review for a special album.
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22.09.2019 - 03:51
Troy Killjoy
perfunctionist
I can't wait to listen to this, I'm going to treat it like a reward for having to tread through so many mediocre albums in the past month. Fantastic review.
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I have no memory of this place.
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22.09.2019 - 09:08
Discordant666
Haven't listened to the whole album yet, can't wait to sink my teeth into it though.
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http://enigmaticalofficial.bandcamp.com/
^Cosmic Black Metal Electronica^
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22.09.2019 - 10:41
nikarg
Old Nick
Quote:
Operating within a genre that has at times been maligned for saturation and excessive similarity

I relate so much to this. As many have said before me, post-metal is so much better live than in studio. However, every year I find two or three post- something albums that I absolutely love. Last year it was Morne and Erdve. So far this year it's Numenorean and now Cult Of Luna.

I've listened to a A Dawn To Fear three times so far and every time a new song sticks out. Obviously "The Silent Man", the second time it was "Lights On The Hill" and the third time it was "The Fall" (what an absolute masterpiece). I am in my fourth listen as I am writing this comment and "Nightwalkers" sounds fantastic. I guess after 2-3 more listens I will be loving all tracks. I think the album is long but it does not feel long. It just absorbs you completely.

Also, among the great reviews you've written, this is probably your best one.
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22.09.2019 - 11:11
musclassia
Written by nikarg on 22.09.2019 at 10:41


I relate so much to this. As many have said before me, post-metal is so much better live than in studio. However, every year I find two or three post- something albums that I absolutely love. Last year it was Morne and Erdve. So far this year it's Numenorean and now Cult Of Luna.

I've listened to a A Dawn To Fear three times so far and every time a new song sticks out. Obviously "The Silent Man", the second time it was "Lights On The Hill" and the third time it was "The Fall" (what an absolute masterpiece). I am in my fourth listen as I am writing this comment and "Nightwalkers" sounds fantastic. I guess after 2-3 more listens I will be loving all tracks. I think the album is long but it does not feel long. It just absorbs you completely.



Totally agree with the comments above - I already knew "The Silent Man" from it being a single, but "Lights On The Hill" and "The Fall" were the obvious standouts to me on the first listen (and second listen); however, with subsequent listens, the likes of the title track, "Nightwalkers" and "Inland Rain" have also increasingly impressed me. I expected the album to be strong, but the fact it actually fully lived up to my expectations was a surprise and a relief. Having read a few others reviews in preparation for this, it seems to be something of a widespread consensus, which is cool.

Written by nikarg on 22.09.2019 at 10:41


Also, among the great reviews you've written, this is probably your best one.


Thanks man, this means a lot; it was probably the hardest, as I wasn't sure what angle I wanted to approach it from. Had about 3 or 4 false starts that I erased, glad the final version came across well.
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27.09.2019 - 12:49
pdepmcp
I fully agree with the review.
One of the band's best to date. And it still grows spin after spin...
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