Friday, 5 February 2021

REVIEW: Cult of Luna, "The Raging River" [EP]

By: Josh McIntyre


Album Type: EP

Date Released: 05/02/2021

Label: Red Crk Recordings


“The Raging River” CD//DD//LP track listing:


1). Three Bridges

2). What I Leave Behind

3). Inside of a Dream (feat. Mark Lanegan)

4). I Remember

5). Wave After Wave


The Review:


While listening to Cult of Luna’s “Salvation”, one of my favorite albums of all time, I had the sudden realization that the classic post-metal gem is nearly 17 years old now. I’ve closely followed this band evolve throughout the years into true veterans and masters at creating emotionally invigorating heavy metal. Sure my all time favorite LP might be old now but these Swedes are still quite active and continuously release critically acclaimed material. I feel that “The Raging River”, released more than two decades since the unit’s founding, is the apex of this feat.


I have to poke a bit of fun at calling “The Raging River” an EP even though it is 38 minutes in length but I suppose when you’re used to making 70+ minute monsters anything that can fit on a single 12” record would feel short. Each Cult of Luna release is truly its own journey; “The Raging River” is no exception. Songs tend to dirge and sway as they build up (or down), hypnotizing the listener in a way that feels like drifting on a river. While the current can shift between calming and tense it still flows nonetheless. It all feels connected.


There is nothing really ‘surprising’ here but that is far from a fault. We’ve come to expect Cult of Luna’s usage of ambience shifting into chunky guitars, the occasional and rather beautiful melody lines coming from either a guitar or keys, and the throaty growls that further remind us of the humanity behind the art. CoL has a method and they use it to near perfection. This is especially aided by what is some of the best production of any release of theirs. Purely from a sound quality perspective this EP sounds like an engineer’s dream. Every instrument, every piece of the music is crystal clear even when the band is at its most explosive. It is so much more invoking when the placement and purpose of every layer is apparent. It makes it so much more comforting to sit in the mist and explore its components, whether it’s the catchy groove of “Wave After Wave” that feels quite Can-ish or the uplifting soundscapes that come at the last section of “Three Bridges”. My one complaint is the middle track, “Inside of a Dream”, which features Mark Lanegan (of Screaming Trees fame). I can’t help but feel like a song that doesn’t evolve much musically, remaining a soft meander throughout, misses a chance to create a fully fleshed out post-metal piece with his distinctive baritone. In full honesty I was hoping for something more akin to his features on Earth’s Primitive and Deadly” album with Mark’s full voice over roaring guitars. Instead it feels more like he was stuck on a functional interlude. However, one must not let that small loss distract from the other four brilliant tracks that absolutely stand up to the rest of the band’s discography.


“The Raging River” is the latest testament to the greatness of Cult of Luna. We’re over two decades into their career but whatever fire they have that is inspiring them is far from burning out. If anything we are lucky to be here to take part.


“The Raging River” is available HERE

Band info: bandcamp || facebook