(UNEXPECTEDLY) RATHER GOOD!!
Swedish sextet Cult Of Luna, to me, have always been a bit of an enigma. Like that urgently whispering voice in the back of my thoughts - heard but not heard. Indeed, my first foray into the world of extreme doom metal was, yes you guessed it... Cult Of Luna. This was a decade ago and my musical taste has somewhat evolved since then. Back then I wasn't really into CoL, but with Brooklyn based singer Julie Christmas in the mix, 'Mariner' may have just changed that.
'Mariner' begins with 'A Greater Call' which starts out sounding like Portishead - a band I loathe and would gladly be hard of hearing if all music were to sound like them. Not really a great start, wouldn't you say? A wave of relief passes over me as the guitars kick in over the synths as their melody changes into a spine tingling chord progression, shortly after accompanied by an evil growling vocal and a very powerful counterpoint from Julie Christmas. I am at this point fascinated, being kept on my toes musically. 'Chevron' follows this with a very 'Tool' like atmosphere, once again with the female counterpoint vocal adding incredible depth. 'The Wreck Of S.S. Needle' follows this with the first Julie Christmas solo performance. This was my firm favourite on 'Mariner' due to its haunting vocal, powerful Type O Negative slide guitar, and synth melodies. If Maynard Keenan were female, then this would be a new 'Tool' or 'A Perfect Circle' track. 'Approaching Transition' does pretty much what it says on the proverbial tin, beginning in slow and almost mellow tones, altering gradually into something plutonium heavy. Being the first epic track on 'Mariner' lasting around 13 minutes, the time has been used wisely to lovingly craft a track of massive scope. Finally, we come to 'Cygnus I' which has a much heavier and even more epic scope, lasting around 15 minutes. One again, the haunting female counterpoint to the male growl is in full force.
Overall, I was very impressed by Mariner. I've never really been a fan of doom or sludge but high production values add a welcome sheen to proceedings, like the introduction of herbs and spices to a bland dish to make it taste good. Cult Of Luna have managed to create an immersive and very enjoyable experience that will stand the test of time.
BLOG POST FROM CULT OF LUNA
WITH FRIENDS LIKE THIS, WHO NEEDS A KNIFE IN THE BACK??
Friends, this will be a long one so bare with me. It is actually so long that I need to name it.
How about “With friends like this, who needs a knife in the back??"
Today marks the day of birth of our baby ”Mariner”. After being present at two real deliveries I will stop any further analogies but this was a hard and painful album to write.
Throughout our active years we’ve always tried to keep momentum so that we would not write the same album twice. Whether we succeed or not is up to you as a listener but the most important thing for us is that we feel like we do something new and are moving into unexplored territories. The story of how we teamed up with Julie is in a thousand interviews out there so I won’t bore you with that but were shit scared about what would come out.
And even after we had the master and were more than happy about the outcome we had no idea of how it would be received. And honestly we still don’t.
I remember last fall when I was standing outside of a bar in Umeå with Erik and I told him that “I think we might have recorded our “Lulu”, he responded “You might have…”.
This brings me to my point. The cliché that art comes from blood, sweat and
tears is not an unfair one. The hour of music we have created always starts in
the head. The process of getting an idea, scrapping it, and scrapping the next
twenty ideas before you get something that in your view has potential. Sitting
at home writing and writing until you have some sort of skeleton to build
This is by far the most time consuming part of the writing and the next step of presenting the idea to the rest of the band is by far the most anxiety filled part. Will the other guys approve, is it good enough or will the idea be met with an awkward silence?
I don’t think I need to continue throughout the whole process, you get my
point. Things takes time and we really put our soul (what ever that means?)
into our music. It is us.
But this album isn’t only us. If you have any knowledge of writing vocals lines and know the range that Julie has, I know I don’t have to convince you that her struggle was real. With the stress of us breathing down her neck, she gave her all and pushed our music to another level. His brother Pär Olofsson took the press pics. He worked his ass off to come up with some amazing ideas (despite a limited budget) that integrated the concept of warped time and space into the photos. We didn’t make his life easy.
The label (Indie recordings) and our manager have spent countless hours into coming up with a plan that would help us getting this album out at the right time and during the right circumstances. All the efforts of two years of hard work has been directed to one date : Today’s.
Why am I boring you with this long bitching about the process behind the album? Because I want to bring attention to a problem all bands have had since the dawn of internet.
During every release we’ve had to deal with people leaking the album online,
long before the actual release.
Who are these people? Actually now we know...
I just want to say that I understand every single one of you that downloaded
it. If a band I like have music out I want to hear it. I wish you could have
waited until the official release date but I understand.
The digital age has surely been a blessing in many ways but it definitely has created an attitude that has devalued the process behind an album. I see examples of this all the time. We’ve had people that have shared the leaked album on our wall and people that have uploaded it on youtube like it is the most casual thing. A shameless behaviour that baffles my mind.
We put in the effort, would it be too much to ask that we are the ones that
decide when and where we release our music?
With that said, we’ve had some amazing people out there that has made us aware of the links and I want to thank you all for that.
That’s it. My bitching is done. I know there is nothing I can say to chance anything. I just needed to get it out of my system.
Money has never been an incentive to why we do this.
However, if we don’t sell records then no one will want to work with us. If we don’t earn the label money, we will not get a recording budget. That’s the fact of the matter.
We have always seen the artwork as an integral part of the album and that
aspect is completely lost with the small thumbnail you get on all digital
So if you want to support us or any other band you like, buy their/our record. See the €20 (which in the Swedish beer currency is about 3,5 beers) as a support for the people behind the art so they can continue do what they do.
For the digital : click here
And you can listen 'Mariner' on Spotify : click here
What I want to say is that the writing, recording
and release is painful. Even if we’re used to the process, it is full of
anxiety and we want to make sure that everything comes out right according to
our plan. You want no screw up from anyone. Not from the record label, not from
our manager and definitely not from us.
We have had long discussion with Erik about the
artwork. After being an integral part of the band for fifteen plus years, he
knows us well but also knows that we are a hard bunch of people to work with.
It took him a long time to get the artwork right but when he did, he nailed it.
I am not touching the economic aspect of this
debate. The aspect that makes my blood boil is the shameless disrespect of our
work. How much I tried I can’t for the life of me understand how somebody that
have the album before everybody else isn’t satisfied enough with it. What do
they gain by uploading it and piss on everything we’ve put in?
I know nothing about the technical aspect of the
digital copies that are sent out but apparently they are watermarked in some
way. The leak that has been out for a couple of weeks was traceable and
originated from… …one copy that had been sent out to one of our distributors. A
part of our team and one of our closest partners. Someone at that office fucked
us over. I just laughed when I found out. It’s actually so unbelievable I don’t
know how to write anything about it.
I know I just wrote that the economical part isn’t
important to us, which actually is semi-true. Cult of Luna isn’t our job and
the money we make on record sales is next to nothing, lets just say that I’m
not taking any boat loan anytime soon.
If you like what we do, you can support us by
buying stuff at www.cultofluna.com
And also, if you’ve manage to plough through this shit storm and are able to read this, then you’ve earned yourself a free hug at any of our shows.
After reading this we hope you feel obliged to assist the band!!