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Cult of Luna - A Dawn to Fear

Cult of Luna
A Dawn to Fear
by Martin Knap at 16 October 2019, 8:55 PM

To put it bluntly, CULT OF LUNA are “the shit” when it comes to Post-Metal, perhaps they could be called Europe’s answer to NEUROSIS. Their influence is considerable and they’re also a band that has reached new horizons artistically. Their music is a mix of heavy and atmospheric: of course, just like in NEUROSIS’ music there is an aggressive, Hardcore or Sludge influenced side, and a softer side influenced by Post-Rock. The often long, expansive compositions can sometimes have some experimental moments (I remember one song on “Vertical” having an electronica beat). Since their founding in 1998 the Swedes have released six LPs and “A Dawn to Fear” comes six years after “Vertical” (which comes in two parts, one LP and one EP, both were released in 2013) and three years after a collaborative project “Mariner”. You know that a CULT OF LUNA release will be marked by a certain weightiness, gravitas, and “A Dawn to Fear” is no different. This album is the longest that the band has produced so far (if we don’t count “Vertical I” and “Vertical II” as one album), the total play time is one hour and twenty minutes. The album has eight tracks, a half of them are medium-length(ish), so some numbers are obviously really long – the longest one “Lights on the Hill”, a fifteen minutes long monster of a song, is right in the middle of the album.

Most of the songs on the album are slow burners shifting between brooding or tender sections and outbursts of aggression and crushing heaviness. What makes CULT OF LUNA’s music great is how well their songs are put together: the minimalist melodies bring slow, gradual development in each section or phrase, so their music doesn’t feel formulaic in any way. There is also great attention to the texture of the sound, in a way that reminds me of Ambient or Electronica artists (HORSEBACK or ULVER come to mind for example). What’s great about this album is how varied in mood the songs are, obviously the predominant tone is pretty bleak, but there are some relaxed passages, for example the beginning has a kind of relaxed Psych-Folk beginning and gradually gets heavier. “Lights on the Hill” opens with the tones of a twangy guitar and a slow beat, which has an eerie, but somehow relaxed vibe. The song is bleak, but there are some brighter guitar melodies, that shine like a ray of light through dark clouds. One of the heaviest and most dark sounding songs here is “Nightwalker,” the mood is set by a minimalist, very sinister riff, around which the other instruments build up tension for an outburst of pounding riffs and Hardcore screams. The song surprises with a section that has a groovy, almost dancy drum beat. “We Fell the End” is a shorter, almost ambient number with a very mournful tone, but a lulling, dreamy melody brings a sort of bittersweet, Shoegazy mood. “Inland Rain” on the other hand has parts that sound boisterous in comparison to the previous song.

There’s a lot to take in on “A Dawn of Fear” not just because of the length, but because it’s full of great ideas. The album, mixed and mastered by CULT OF LUNA’s own Magnus Lindberg, sounds amazing, as is the rule with their releases. I’m still on the fence if I like this album better than “Vertical,” but it’s definitely a worthy addition to an illustrious discography.

Songwriting: 9
Memorability: 8
Originality: 8
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. The Silent Man
2. Lay Your Head to Rest
3. A Dawn to Fear
4. Nightwalkers
5. Lights on the Hill
6. We Feel the End
7. Inland Rain
8. The Fall

Magnus Líndberg - Guitars, Percussion
Johannes Persson - Guitars, Vocals
Andreas Johansson - Bass
Thomas Hedlund - Drums
Kristian Karlsson - Keyboards, Vocals
Fredrik Kihlberg - Guitars, Vocals

Record Label: Metal Blade Records


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