Home Albums Album Review: The Cult; Under the Midnight Sun.

Album Review: The Cult; Under the Midnight Sun.

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Review by Rob Broom for MPM

The Cult return with a triumphant new album, a sonic explosion of sound that is reflective of the world and our surroundings but doesn’t stand on past glories.

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

Age hasn’t had any noticeable effect on Ian Astburys vocal style beyond it being a little deeper and Billy Duffys swirling guitar just mesmerises throughout the entire album. A powerful opener that sets a tone for that is to follow.

‘Give Me Mercy’ continues with a lighter musical beat and a catchy chorus. It is difficult to just not embrace this song as one of hope even though some of the lyrics may suggest otherwise. Duffys guitar starts to soar in places filling in the spaces between chorus and lyrics. A great tune.

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

‘Knife Through Butterfly Heart’ starts gently, building up a sense of tension and expectation as the song opens up. Duffy sticks in a guitar break that pierces through the atmosphere and then we a sound that feels like briefly revisiting Led Zeppelins ‘Kashmir’ before we get to the finish leaving you breathless and wanting some more – frustratingly wonderful!

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

‘Outer Heaven’ starts slowly and gently before picking up a good tempo, Billy Duffy again counter balancing Astburys mystical vocals with some entertaining guitar work, which I would imagine will sound even better live as there will be more room for him to improvise and stretch the soloing and feedback. There’s a terrific feel to this song.

‘Under The Midnight Sun’ commences with an almost Jim Morrison/Doors feel, but that is only for a moment, the song rapidly becomes a classic mystical Cult experience. Despite its brief connection to the past and its lyrical symbolism the song feels immediate, modern and beautiful.

Final track ‘Vendetta X’ has some delightfully snarling vocal delivery and lyrics that contrasts with the previous ‘Under the Midnight Sun’. The song breaks into a steady beat and doesn’t let go as it twists and turns to a conclusion with some haunting guitar work that in places echoes the opening to Zeppelin’s ‘Achilles Last Stand’. Tremendous.

Produced by Tom Dalgety (who has worked with the Pixies, Royal Blood and Ghost) it has been obvious with a number of recent releases that the world lockdown and events have given many musicians time to reflect and think on life, leading to a new creative burst and this album from the Cult 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 probably deserves to be played 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 some boundaries and expectations. Yet it is more than just that. The album is mature and majestic.


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