“Cult of Christmas” Is More Like It
The metal world is no stranger to the heavy riffage that comes from our pale partners in brutality over in Sweden. Once again, another solidly amazing album has been released from the helms of some of the country’s most talented. Cult of Luna teamed up with Julie Christmas (formerly of Made Out of Babies and Battle of Mice) on their latest album, Mariner. Much like Cult of Luna’s other releases, Mariner tells an expansive, swirling aural story expressed through a post-metal interpretation.
Sure, Mariner may not be “innovative” in the sense of Cult of Luna’s discography. Their last six albums have all landed somewhere on the spectrum of straight sludgey doom to merely hinting at elements of such, while imploring a weighty and refreshing ambience. That isn’t a bad thing, as Cult of Luna have maintained their career in the often overlooked genre of post-metal. Yet it is the addition of Julie Christmas’s gossamer range that augment their normal production. Her voice pairs perfectly with that of lead vocalist Johannes Persson, together dancing through their ghostly tonal creation that both plays into what Cult of Luna does best, while breathing fresh life into the familiarity.
Mariner begins with the simple guitar melody of “A Greater Call,” with murmuring chords that flow effortlessly with Persson and Christmas’s tones. It’s with this lead track that we’re reacquainted with classic Cult of Luna, but introduced to what makes Mariner in even the slightest way anew. Persson owns vocal leads on “A Greater Call,” but it’s following track, “Chevron,” where Christmas truly expresses her power. She hits notes that sometimes crack and quiver, likely intentionally, adding a trace of haunting reality to a primed production.
Only five songs (and almost an hour) long, Mariner delivers a full level of brutishness in a tight package. The album closes on its most heaviest note with “Cygnus,” letting its hasty instrumentation take control. Christmas’s eerie tones and screams act as accents to the lofty drumming of Thomas Hedlund and massive guitar sweeps, at one point expelling all the same time in one of the biggest releases of cacophony on the album.
Upon hearing Mariner, there is no question as to why Cult of Luna have maintained their career over the last 18 years. It still holds true to what the band does best, yet plays into their modernized perspective in doing so. Their musical marriage with Julie Christmas on the project was an obvious smart move, and if their future output sounds anything like Mariner, Cult of Luna will continue to remain one of the best.