CULT OF LUNA - THE RAGING RIVER EP
Updated: Apr 10, 2021
THE POST-METAL SWEDES ENJOY SOME BAD WEATHER
Swedish post-metallers, Cult of Luna have established an enviable niche with more than enough individuality to distinguish them from their long list of peers. A consistent output of hefty, critically acclaimed albums have been backed up by renowned intense live performances. This is EP is the debut release on the band's independent label Red Creek.
Sparse, cavernous and desolate, the unsettling introductory strings of opener, Three Bridges paints a dimly-lit end of the world vista not too unlike a less clunky, more organic Godflesh. The slow brooding build-up and the air of expectancy is soon reverberating with the primal bear-like roar of Johannes Persson and concussive, pseudo-tribal cantering percussion that develops into soaring, transcendent veils of post-metal drama. Walls of crashing noise swell and rise stormily with Persson sounding like Thor screaming through a squall. Cult of Luna's beefed up metal-gaze has always, however, demonstrated mastery of texturing rather than pure bludgeon and there are lighthouse beams of melody that flash powerfully through the raging dissonance.
Things get murkier and denser with the uncompromising belligerent forced march of What I Leave Behind. Distorted wrathful vocals crackle over slabs of slow, heavy, beginning-of-the-world coldness and enormity. The high-intensity gusts subside for tense quieter passages that only tell you there is more to come, redolent of the vengeful natural forces of post-Through Silver In Blood Neurosis.
Then you are blind-sided. A conspicuous - and unexpected - divergence from the rest of the record is the queasy, bastardised folk-blues of Inside of a Dream. Uncomplicated, introspective, wonky pseudo-country backs the roughly-sanded croak of former Screaming Trees frontman Mark Lanegan. This is stylistically unrelated to the rest of the EP and indeed anything from Cult of Luna; in fact it sounds just like Mark Lanegan. His confessional lyrics of rueful regret are like a staggering soliloquy from a lost, bourbon-breathed drunk down some lonely dusty road. It is a surreal, curious reprieve among the strident brawny post-metal noise. It doesn't correspond but somehow that matters little and the bellicose assault soon resumes with I Remember, a rumbling, post apocalyptic wave of Neurosis-esque volume. Rising draperies of metallic clanging meld with savage roaring either side of noodly, blurry meditative organic drift.
Concluding is the nine minute Wave After Wave, a long and winding hypnotic piece of sleek nodding post-metal. Purposeful and controlled with a backbone of throbbing, pulsing base and widescreen lingering chords it is more meditative than heavy, immersive rather than punishing but with a surfeit of emotional gravity. Finally destroying itself in shimmering effects and fuzzy thumps, it is an overblown exhausted finale.
The Raging River is appropriately titled as this EP crashes and meanders through an unforgiving panoramic wilderness. Cult of Luna do not break new artistic ground and this is an archetypal record, though a good quality one. It is very much a continuation from their previous album A Dawn to Fear (2019) and the band have admitted as much, describing it as a bridge, though at 40 minutes it is a long one. Cult of Luna have landed another punch with this EP but all eyes will be on where this river leads next.