Cult Of Luna – ‘The Raging River’

By Liam Knowles

If you’re at all familiar with the post-metal genre, Cult Of Luna will need no introduction – since their inception in 1998, the experimental Swedish collective have pushed the boundaries of expansive, overwhelming heavy music. From seminal releases like 2004’s ‘Salvation’ and its successor ‘Somewhere Along The Highway’, to their stunning collaborative effort with Julie Christmas, ‘Mariner’, Cult Of Luna have worked tirelessly to cement themselves as one of the most important, influential, and innovative bands in their scene.

The band themselves have described ‘The Raging River’ as “a bridge. A midpoint that needs to be crossed so that we can finish what we started with 2019’s ‘A Dawn To Fear’.” This makes total sense, as this EP does seem to pick up exactly where the most recent album left off. Opening track ‘Three Bridges’ begins with sinister guitar lines that creep out from behind a soft, yet industrial sounding percussive pattern before things get much sludgier with the appearance of Johannes Perrson’s powerful roar and a wave of thick, tar-like guitars. It’s all fairly standard stuff for Cult Of Luna until around the five-minute mark, when the synths take a substantial step forward and make an already powerful sound hit even harder – and when this is combined with relentless, almost tribal drumming a few minutes later, it sounds truly monolithic.

One of the major talking points around this release is the appearance of legendary Screaming Trees and Queens Of The Stone Age vocalist Mark Lanegan, who lends his unmistakable voice to ‘Inside Of A Dream’. The song itself is the only stripped-back, subtle number on the record, carrying itself gently throughout, with Lanegan’s distinctive croon sitting perfectly atop the soft guitars and subtle synth swells. It’s a wonderful song, if not a little brief, and there’s no doubt that this will have been a dream collaboration for the members of Cult Of Luna. It would, however, have been even more interesting to see them try and incorporate someone like Mark Lanegan into one of their heavier songs, rather than having him feature on a track that doesn’t take him or them out of their respective comfort zones. It’s not bad by any stretch of the imagination, but it does feel a bit like a missed opportunity for something really special.

This is a great little EP from start to finish, and fans of Cult Of Luna’s most recent album will surely be happy to hear more of that style from the band – but it has to be said that it doesn’t really bring anything new or unexpected to the table, or expand on the band’s impressive arsenal in any significant way. If you’re going into this EP thinking “I just need more music from Cult Of Luna” then you will have a whale of a time, but we may have to wait for the next full-length release to see where the band is truly going to go next.

LIAM KNOWLES

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