Almost 30 years after they formed, The Cult are still at it. Vocalist Ian Astbury and guitarist Billy Duffy are the only original members, but that’s been the case for a very long time. In fact, this is the first time The Cult has released two albums back to back with the same line-up. Does that signal a band settling in to a comfortable middle-age? Well, yes and no.
After the release of 2007’s Born To This Astbury stated that The Cult would no longer release any more albums…that it was a dead format. They proceeded to squeeze out two EPs in 2010 before giving in to their primal urges and recording the 10 songs that comprise Choice Of Weapon. Producer Bob Rock is along for the ride…he produced 1989’s Sonic Temple, the one with Fire Woman and Sun King…and co-producing is Chris Goss (QOTSA).
The band sounds newly-invigorated on opening track, Honey From The Knife. Duffy kicks things off with a big, thick, chugging guitar riff and then adds a razor-sharp solo. Meanwhile Astbury is growling out something about a “dirty, seedy street” and chanting, “He got the drugs, we got the drugs”.
While Astbury sounds fine here…if a bit deeper…this record is really all about the guitar. When Billy Duffy rips into songs like The Wolf or Amnesia, that’s when the fun begins.
Otherwise things get kinda wobbly. Life > Death begins with a grandiose piano and Astbury reaches for his best Jim Morrison-croon, but eventually the track veers of course and it starts to sound like a Meat Loaf tune. Not what they had in mind, I’d bet.
First single, For The Animals is a good, driving rocker, with an intense vocal performance, but it too, loses its way before its four and a half minutes are up.
Wilderness is quieter, and finds the boys getting back to their Goth roots. “I can’t wake from this dream, death walks right beside me”, Astbury wails. Lucifer treads similar ground, but with more feedback. Duffy takes things up a notch with another searing guitar solo.
The ghost of Jim Morrison raises its grizzled head on A Pale Horse…”with the wave of my hand, I’ll crush your sweet skull”. Nice.
Finally, the Zeppelin-esque The Night In The City Forever brings things to a close. It’s a slow burner where Astbury finds, “All my friends are drunk”.
So, a good effort from these veteran rockers…in fact more than good in spots, especially when guitarist Billy Duffy takes the bull by the horns and rips into his six-string. Sounds like there’s still fire in these guys’ bellies.
Click here to listen to Lucifer from Choice Of Weapon: