Cult Of Luna - The Raging River review


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Band: Cult Of Luna
Album: The Raging River
Release date: February 2021

01. Three Bridges
02. What I Leave Behind
03. Inside Of A Dream [feat. Mark Lanegan]
04. I Remember
05. Wave After Wave

I didn't expect to get this far into 2021 before writing my first review, but if there's any band worth getting out of a rut for, it's Cult Of Luna.

Coming less than 18 months after the colossus that was 2019's A Dawn To Fear, The Raging River comes courtesy of the band's new record label Red Creek. Comprised primarily of songs that were initially conceived during the A Dawn To Fear writing sessions, The Raging River is an EP pushing nearly 40 minutes in length (if you're wondering why it's considered an EP at that length, feel free to check out my review with Johannes Persson). Given the overlap in the songwriting, it's probably not a huge surprise to discover that the music here is not a grand departure from that found on A Dawn To Fear stylistically; however, readers will be glad to hear that the musical similarities extend to the quality of the songs, which are just as excellent as long-time fans of the band would expect from Cult Of Luna.

"Three Bridges" is the opening track and lead single from the EP, so you may have already heard and enjoyed this track. For those yet to discover it, you can expect an ominous, heavy first half to the track, not too far removed from the first half of "The Silent Man", which opened A Dawn To Fear. However, if you can imagine such a thing, the ending to "Three Bridges" is arguably even more epic than the one featured on "The Silent Man"; a gritty churn of guitars gives way to achingly beautiful soundscapes that layer and layer, from the delicate chimes to the delightfully melancholic guitars, culminating in a suffocating pounding of euphoric sound before the band cycles back to something closer to earlier on the song, albeit with a spellbinding new slant. It's the kind of opening track that leaves you both hungry for more and concerned that the record has already peaked before it's gotten going.

If I'm honest, the climax of "Three Bridges" is the peak of The Raging River for me; however, that's not to downplay the rest of the record. "What I Leave Behind" and "I Remember" are both brooding slow burns, steadily weaving through dense walls of thick guitars and Persson's roars, with the electronics playing an important role in shaping the atmosphere of these tracks. Certainly the most distinctive song here, "Inside Of A Dream" features Mark Lanegan of Screaming Trees fame, and really sounds nothing like anything in Cult Of Luna's back catalogue, not even "And With Her Came The Birds", a song they had envisaged his voice on at the time of writing Somewhere Along The Highway. Lanegan's soulful vocals add an entirely new dimension, particularly when combined with the ebb and flow of the keyboards on this minimalistic, ambling ditty. Novelty aside, "Inside Of A Dream" is an interesting centrepiece on a record where it is surrounded by lunging post-metal, albeit one that doesn't make a huge impact.

Probably the most memorable track on The Raging River outside of "Three Bridges" is "Wave After Wave". The percussion of Cult Of Luna has really been developing on recent albums to incorporate new rhythmic approaches, which continues throughout the EP but particularly on this closing track, as an uncharacteristically danceable and slick drum pattern drives this understated yet immense electronics-heavy journey forwards as it ever so gradually develops and morphs. Although The Raging River isn't a major sonic overhaul for Cult Of Luna, the band to manage to push their sound in quite a few relatively new directions between the likes of "Three Bridges", "Inside Of A Dream" and "Wave After Wave", and they do so successfully, with the synth-dominated stretches of the latter track feeling satisfyingly natural. When this track does eventually shift gears into heavier territory, it's done so smoothly and so effortlessly that you almost don't notice yourself getting dragged into darker, more sinister environs, as ethereal guitar lines layer and layer on top of each other until the listener is completely consumed.

The Raging River isn't quite the equal of A Dawn To Fear; that album had a musical range and array of stunning peaks across its 80 minutes that The Raging River can't quite fit into 40. However, anyone sufficiently acquainted with Cult Of Luna knows by now that their name alone is a seal of quality in and of itself, and The Raging River does nothing to alter that. A fantastic release that I think I can say with confidence will be in my end of year top 10.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 9
Songwriting: 9
Originality: 7
Production: 9


Written on 02.02.2021 by Hey chief let's talk why not


Comments: 1   Visited by: 166 users
02.02.2021 - 01:06
You sure know how to sell a Cult Of Luna album.

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