Written by Carcassbomb
Cult Of Luna – The Raging River
Post Metal from Sweden
Released February 5th, 2021
Via Red Creek
Where most other post-metal legends have fallen or stopped short, Cult Of Luna remains to bring out new albums every couple of years. They managed to remain relevant well into the 2010s with their Julie Christmas collab on Mainer in 2016, then right before the new decade in 2019 they came out with A Dawn To Fear, truly showing no loss of progression and vigor. Now we get to kick off 2021 with a brand new release from the band, The Raging River, where they will yet again dance circles around most post-metal bands with a lengthy career.
Right from the start, we’re treated to the dark emotional catalyst we’ve come to expect from Cult Of Luna with passionate harsh vocals clashing against a moody and thoughtful series of instrumentals. They’ve added a nice bit of secondary melody throughout that helps separate this from their previous works, it just has a slightly different signature to the sound but it’s difficult to put my finger on. Something I can always appreciate and that not all bands strive for when they keep releasing the same album over and over. Those not as interested in the cleaner sounds of the band will be happy to know that only accounts for one interval sort of track on The Raging River that lasts a few minutes, “Inside Of A Dream” featuring Mark Lanegan of Queens Of the Stone Age, then it’s right back into the unclean sludgy outcries. I appreciate this as a halfway point, very much the eye of the storm before the river completely overflows with destruction.
I love how patient they can be on a musical level, like on the track “I Remember” where the drums carry a very long and consistent beat using high hats and a couple of lower beats, letting the guitars skate across it with various clean expressions that build into a more distorted climax. They are clearly very competent composers at this point with an excellent synergy between the members that feels like it will never die out. At the heart of The Raging River is still that primal sound that serves as the band’s baseline with hypnotic drumming and melodies that tell their own stories – It’s an older style with a fair bit of common ground with 70s prog rock.
The concepts in the lyrics are often linking the individual human to things much bigger than the human but have a profound emotional impact. There’s a lot of metaphorical talks, invoking the powers of dreary landscapes, architecture, and the possibility of a god responsible for it all, residing somewhere above. As the bridges collapse and the streets become overgrown with burdensome plants, so do we inside. All we can ask is “Who is responsible? Who is this powerful?”. These giant powerful things leave us questioning our purpose within the all-consuming constructs. These glittering physical icons leave us in awe but also crush our soul into something minuscule. There are inspirations and loathing to be found in equal measure.
Some find the vocals to be a bit boring and I guess I can understand that perspective to an extent but the post-metal genre doesn’t quite call for a variety of vocals as much as it does consistency and thickness, which both ring true here. It’s about being able to pace yourself for the long haul with the long track lengths, a show of endurance more so than a flight of fancy. It might not be as groundbreaking of an album as brand new bands are coming up with but it’s certainly the right thing to expect from Cult Of Luna. It’s not like ISIS changed their vocals much, but they were consistently themselves and are the closest comparison I can draw to Cult Of Luna.
I’ve been a fan since Somewhere Along The Highway when I was a teen and The Raging River is such a welcomed addition to their discography, I can still feel a lot of the driving force behind that band that was present back then. Which makes sense because so many of their conceptual ideas simply stay the course of relevancy as we build more and more on top of our society. The weird alienation and isolation of modern living only strengthens as our mind grows with the internet and yet our bodies resign to their coffins pre-maturely. I can always feel a kind of kinship in the heartbreak and frustration of their music.
I always love an album that lets me wax poetic about bullshit that may or may not have anything to do with the album. It’s important to find albums that actually link up with you spiritually and provide a splatter of introspective emotions, they’re often the most memorable and easiest to write about. You probably didn’t need me to tell you the new Cult Of Luna was good though. Supposedly an EP but it easily smashes out most LPs in terms of quality and length.