Sunday, January 23, 2011

Lost Classic- Cult Of Luna 'The Beyond'

The term 'heavy' is bandied around lots in the metal world , and applied sometimes to music that is distinctively un -heavy , both in terms of tone and sound .Indeed , one can sometimes become lost when trying to apply the term to a lot of modern music , for instance, is Aphex Twin , an electronic act with a focus on queasy , unnerving ambeince and mood less 'heavy' than say Killswitch Engage , whose songs may contain a heavy production and metallic guitars but are otherwise basically pop songs?However , every so often a band appears who can be described as 'heavy' in every sense , and Sweden's Cult Of Luna are definitely one of those bands.

When the band's sophomore release 'The Beyond' appeared in 2003 , the term post-metal was already old hat, and it's key exponents , namely Isis and Neurosis , were already exploring new territory , particularly with the former's brilliant 'Oceanic' . 'The Beyond'  however was a different beast , and although similar in style to the aforementioned bands , it cut it's own niche in the post-metal genre .Heavy as a ton of bull elepahants tumbling down a flight of stairs , but also imbued with a sense of genuine emotion and weight , 'The Beyond' was  , and is , a truly crushing experience.

From the second the eerie , oppressive intro of 'Inside Fort Meade' kicks in , we are aware that this isn't going to be a picnic , and we are proved right when the swirling ,vicious riffage of 'Receiver' kicks in ,all topped off with the tormented , anguished yowl of singer Klas Rydberg, a man who throughout the album, sounds as if he's going to hell in handbasket . A pleasingly clear and sharp production by Pelle Henricsson lets the band's brutal riffola breathe and flow , and when the band do turn the volume down, as on the delicate almost Pink-Floyd esque guitar flourishes that open 'Circle ' ,or the stunning ,violin -led breakdown in 'The Watchtower'  , it's no less devastating.

The band have since grown in popularity , and amassed a respectable cult( if you'll pardon the pun) following with subsequent albums 'Salvation' , 'Somewhere Along The Highway' and 'Eternal Kingdom'  , but none have really equalled the thrilling gut punch of 'The Beyond' . And indeed after listening even once to it, to paraphrase the narrator in Chuck Palahniuk's 'Fight Club' , everything else seems like the volume has been turned down a bit.So ,  as the hoary old  rock cliche goes, play loud.

Stephen O ' Connor

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