The cult; Under the midnight sun. – Music Planet Metal

Review by Rob Broom for MPM

The Cult returns with a triumphant new album, a sonic explosion of sound that reflects the world and our surroundings but does not rise above past glories.

The album begins with ‘A Cut Inside’. A slow, brooding riff and vocal quickly picks up the pace as the song laments the past and looks to the future.

Age had no noticeable effect on Ian Astbury’s vocal style beyond being a little deeper and Billy Duffy’s swirling guitar fascinates throughout the album. A powerful opening that sets the tone to follow.

“Give Me Mercy” continues with a lighter musical beat and a catchy chorus. It’s hard not to embrace this song as a song of hope, even though some lyrics might suggest otherwise. Duffy’s guitar begins to soar in places filling the spaces between the chorus and the lyrics. A great melody.

With ‘Impermanence’, the lyrics begin to deepen. With more “dreamy” or “mystical” lyrics than the previous two songs, the pace is slower, but the quality is maintained with the guitar intertwining with the vocals again.

“Knife Through Butterfly Heart” begins softly, creating a sense of tension and expectation as the song opens up. Duffy sticks in a guitar break that pierces the atmosphere, then we have a sound that feels like briefly revisiting Led Zeppelins’ “Kashmir” before coming to the end, leaving you breathless and begging for more – frustrating and wonderful!

Mirror frolics with plenty of lyrical matchmaking and an infectious drum beat. Ashbury tells us ‘we own the night’ and ‘forget what we know’, but this track is hard to forget!

“Outer Heaven” starts slow and sweet before picking up a nice tempo, Billy Duffy again counteracting Astbury’s mystical vocals with entertaining guitar work, which I imagine will sound even better live as it will have more room to improvise and stretch solo and feedback. There is a great feeling in this song.

‘Under The Midnight Sun’ begins with an almost Jim Morrison/Doors feel, but only for a moment, the song quickly becomes a mystical cult classic experience. Despite its brief connection to the past and its lyrical symbolism, the song sounds immediate, modern and beautiful.

The final track “Vendetta X” has a deliciously surly vocals and lyrics that contrast with the earlier “Under the Midnight Sun.” The song builds to a steady beat and doesn’t let go as it twists and turns into a conclusion with haunting guitar work that in places echoes the opening of Zeppelin’s “Achilles Last Stand.” . Huge.

Produced by Tom Dalgety (who has worked with the Pixies, Royal Blood and Ghost), it has become apparent with a number of recent releases that the global lockdown and events have given many musicians time to think and reflect on life, leading to new burst creativity and this Cult album is no exception.

Within the parameters of what you might expect from the Cult, this album is not ‘Love’ but it is a brilliant sonic exploration. Listen to it on headphones for maximum enjoyment and the album is probably worth playing on vinyl for the full experience.

The album reminds me of the Rolling Stones ‘Satanic Majesties Request’ and Led Zeppelins ‘Physical Graffiti’ (among others) in terms of a band comfortable with themselves, but willing to experiment and push certain boundaries and expectations. Yet it is more than that. The album is mature and majestic.


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