18 of 20 thought this review was well written
Cult of Luna has been and always will be one of those bands that stuck with the foundation in sound they created nearly 14 years ago. Hailing from Umea, Sweden, Cult of Luna made their reputation in the metal world as one of the best and well-known acts that play the same style of sludge/post-rock hybrid as Isis and Pelican. What sets apart the band from their contemporaries were their distinct atmosphere and the inherent darkness, which is the foundation of their sound. The band’s style evolved during later years as they experimented by expanding their soundscape and instrumentation and adding more members to make their live performances truly epic.
The self-titled debut, Cult of Luna, was released in 2001 by Rage of Achilles before being re-released by Earache Records after the success of The Beyond. It demonstrated the sound that the band would alter later on: heavy atmospheric sludge metal to a doom-ish extent mixed with post-rock and hardcore.
Halfway through the opener, “The Revelation Embodied”, it's clear that Cult of Luna have little changes and layers in almost every measure to avoid sounding repetitive and tiresome. The guitar riffs remain massive and crushing throughout as they create levels of intensity and tranquillity; the debut consists of some of the band’s most colossal riffs yet (i.e. “The Sacrifice”, “Sleep”, and “The Revelation Embodied”). The bass is audible most of the time and the impressive drumming and the extra percussion are well placed in the music, not in any way ostentatious or quiet. Klas Rydberg is as feral and vicious as he is on the other albums with his hardcore growls and barks, never sounding emotionless or weak. The atmosphere has always been a key factor of their music; in every song, it is either dark and oppressive or somber and serious, but each one is reflective and thoughtful. The soundscape is expanded upon with the help of the electronics, bringing more layers to the oppressive nature of the album. The lyrics are mostly dark and negative, adding to the compelling atmosphere, dealing with themes such as the four horsemen of the apocalypse (“The Revelation Embodied”: A time when the curse is alive. The horsemen have arrived. Under the hoofs has the human race tread down into muddy pools of dirt
) and of Faust of German legend (“Beyond Fate”). The experimentation should be noted as they add cello parts in “Sleep”, samples within passages like Neurosis did, and the acoustic guitar at the end of “The Sacrifice”. Cult of Luna seemed to have masterfully composed a solid debut with exploding crescendos, overwhelmingly dark atmospheres, and impressive songwriting and musicianship.
Naturally, the rule for every album exists: no album is flawless. The self-titled is wounded by its length, stretching in nearly an exact hour. The length is long because of unneeded sections (the middle of “Sleep”) or extended measures in the songs (for example, the ending in “The Sacrifice”). Few may think it would have been better to add the ending of “101” to the beginning of “The Sacrifice”. Compared to their other albums, this is possibly their weakest effort. The debut’s sound would later be explored in the following album, The Beyond, where all aspects of this are improved.
That is to say that this isn’t to be avoided and cast aside as an unnecessary listen in the band’s discography. No, this is recommended to be given a listen. The self-titled is definitely the darkest effort Cult of Luna has made yet. Cult of Luna never forgot their roots as they never changed their sound; they only altered and improved upon it. Even after their musical evolution, they were amazing in their beginning.