Swedish post-metal favourites Cult Of Luna are back with their eighth album, ‘A Dawn To Fear’.
Their confidence should be sky-high after 2016’s collaboration album with Julie Christmas, ‘Mariner’, was largely critically acclaimed. Some may argue the bar might be higher than it’s ever been as a result, but ‘A Dawn To Fear’ may sit amongst their best work.
Opener, ‘The Silent Man’, has a driving beat that you may expect from a post-punk band, but it quickly builds into a thick wall of sound. Johannes Persson has one of the most commanding shouts in metal, and this is utilised to lift the song greatly, but, throughout the album, we’re reminded why their stature is so high in the post-metal world. A multitude of soundscapes greet us, and the heavier side of things never disappoint. On this song in particular, there’s a real cinematic feel, both in the lighter and the heavier sections.
The album is an intoxicating experience that sucks you in all the way through, with a multitude of soundscapes bought to the fore. ‘Lay Your Head To Rest’ is further proof, with simple but effective riffs that are carried with tonnes of conviction.
However, the title-track might be the highlight, on which an icy, bleak atmosphere is created, again with a simple riff halfway through the song. With minimalist techniques employed, it’s easy for albums like this to fade into the background, but there’s absolutely no chance of this happening here. And the heavier sections are somehow even more impactful, too. There are few bands better at the slow build-up of tension then release. With ‘Nightwalkers’, the low-end is still devastatingly strong, even with the thick, multi-layered wall of sound happening on top of it.
With ‘Lights On The Hill’, it’s certainly strong in its tense opening stages, but its impact is undeniable when the dynamics are shifted, and this time it’s immediate rather than gradual, bringing about a whirlwind of emotion. It’s one of the longest songs on the album, but not a second of it feels like it lulls or drags on.
The more mellowed-out ‘We Feel The End’ helps to offer some respite, with Persson‘s clean vocals carrying the song. ‘Inland Rain’ continues to offer a grand climax, which is a common technique, but it’s proof of the record’s power that this method knocks you for six every time, and later on we get a truly epic closer in the form of ‘The Fall’. Kristian Karlsson‘s keyboard sounds are a key factor to this album, but perhaps more importantly there’s a real sense of urgency which dominates the album in all departments.
‘A Dawn To Fear’ is certainly on the long side of things and requires maximum concentration to reap its rewards, but it’s truly special when an album like this can flow by so quickly. Based on this post-metal masterclass, Cult Of Luna‘s hot streak can only be expected to continue in the future.