Cult of luna have been a important part of the alternative metalscene since the band’s breakthrough when they released their 3’rd record Salvation. Songs like Leave me here buried it’s way through the conciousness of metalfans all over the world.
Vertikal was the album that raised the band’s status in my opinion from “great to legendary”.
Thus’ i was (without exaggeration) extatic when they dropped the news (from nowhere) that they were going to release a sequel to Vertikal with none other than the legendary vocalist Julie Christmas.
Cult of Luna – Mariner got quickly alot of hype among their fans.
Many of the fans just waited for a release that would be ripping open than “Vertikal”, which according to many is one of the best metalalbums in recent years.
I have almost an unhealthy love to Vertikal, but yet i feel that parts of Mariner are the absolute best that Cult of Luna have ever produced.
The album starts of with A Greater call, a powerful, spacious post-metal ballad which shoots the listner of too space. If Vertikal was an album telling a story of a barren, cold, inhuman city then A Greater Call is the liftoff into the outer-unknown. Julie’s vocals is more of a back-vocal nature (though clean-sung) to Johannes powerful screaming vocals.
“We are not conquerors We float with the tide”
Next comes Chevron. A song which i habe trouble giving an objective view upon. Not that i think anything badly about it, quite the opposite. Chevron is not only the best song that have ever barren the name of Cult of Luna, it is possibly one of the greatest songs ever made in my opinion. The song starts with a almost jazz-type of bassline, though heavily distorted. Julie is the main singer on this song, Julie and Johannes switch between lead and back-vocals during the entire album. Julie delivers a very strong first chorus but the climax comes about 2 minutes into the song (the entire track is 9 minutes long). And when i say climax i dont mean that the song loses it’s edge. On the contrary it reaches an peak which it masterfully withelds for the last 7 minutes.
So what is the thin that happens during the 2 minute mark? It is probably the best bridge ever conceived in a rock-song.
Julie starts to scream in her very iconic way, a type of very highpitched almost hysterical type of scream.
At the same time Johannes bring out his most inner demon’s and share the lead chorus part with Julie.
The melodical pattern which the different voices brings forth bring a perfect unison in their likeminded but different approach to using their voices.
The harsh vocals creates a sort of intimidating atmosphere as it’s also at the same time completly beautiful. It is a rare approach to song-producing that is rarely heard but often missed. It is truly something that leaves an emotional scar in all the right ways. The rest of the song continues this uneasy yet intriguing feeling without any signs of fading. This song PROOVES that music is art. in all the forms available.
Shut Down Night
The Beast has come to gloat
Smug and listless, is what this is
Lie low till it’s done
Your hackles are raised
It stories held back hate
And speaks to all the wrong that’s come and gone
Said and done”
After the emotional wreckage that is Chevron we are treated to The Wreck of S.S. Needle.
This track is the “Classic styled” Cult of luna that we are used to, the big difference is that Johannes takes a step back and lets Julie take on the whole lyrical weight upon herself. Poetic lyrics, dark minor melodies and the iconic drum-beats that Cult of Luna is known for. A well-crafted song, just not innovating in any way. But that does not mean it’s not neccessary.
“The members of his squad grow thick
A testament to “get rich quick”
No sign of mismatched features
Secondary organs from within”
Approaching Transition is a huge downsize in tempo. To compare it to another song you might say that it is the “Mariner” answer to Owlwood. A very slow, very effect-heavy song with large drone-parts which makes the song reminicant of band’s like Boris or similar drone-metal act’s. Due to my large love of post-rock i love long droning instrumental parts but i can imagine that Approaching Transition is the track that is hardest to enjoy if you are not experienced with this type of music. The fact that this song is only based around Johannes, and it is composed of both soft, clean vocals as well as violent screams. The theory that both vocalist switches entirely around the different vocalist-roles during the duration of the album is yet again proven right. And i love the fact that around 30% of the lyrics is sung in Swedish, which is after all the band’s motherlanguage.
Natt varje natt
Bort från allt
Ekar tomt överallt
Cygnus is the albums concluding tune. A song where the entire conceptual sound-design of the album gets summarized both melodically and in lyrics. A great ending to one of my all time favorite albums.
Leave her to sing her withered songs
In tunnels painted like the dawn
Mariner is regarding to the band something completely new. While i understand that statement (and somewhat agree with it) i find a red thread ending here, the conceptual style was started with Somewhere along the highway. From the rural forests to the city and now above the clouds going into another galaxy. This is a new phase for the band but yet it all seems so familiar. The difference is the feeling of listening to something that is very close to being seen as “perfect”.
I would like to thank Cult of Luna and Julie Christmas for bringing this masterpiece to us.
Stream the album now, and if you want to support the artist then buy the album. If you buy the vinyl-edition you also get the song Beyond the Redshift. A powerful instrumental heavy on the synthesizer’s. A comparison to vangelis is not to far off.