Review Summary: The Cult storm back into action as a band almost refreshed in the new millennium with their seventh full-length record.
After the band's successful 80s/early 90s era, The Cult had a gradual musical decline thanks to ongoing problems with alcohol and off-stage tensions, eventually resulting in a mutual decision to go on a four-year hiatus. Since the release of the somewhat mediocre self-titled album, the band regrouped in 1999 to pick up where they left off, leading to the release of the worthy comeback release Beyond Good and Evil
, conceptually named after the Friedrich Nietzsche book.
Thankfully Beyond Good and Evil
sounds like a band reborn, and as it was released in 2001, the band sound refreshed and renewed to a point of almost sounding completely different. Whilst this isn't exactly the case, the same musical magic used to make albums such as Sonic Temple
is here in spades, Ian Astbury and co. bringing a lot of youthful velocity to the recording. From the get-go Beyond Good and Evil
is musically a very effective albeit not entirely consistent record. The first half does indeed eschew the second half in terms of consistency and remarkable instrumentation, though the band here are showing their age as well. Opener “War (The process)”, together with “Rise” and “Breathe” all make for an interesting combination of hard-hitting guitar leads and powerful drum work, Astbury's sometimes waning vocal style unfortunately dragging the quality down a little. The powerful and memorable choruses are still here in spades however, songs such as beautifully written “Nico” and “Speed of light” proving melodic and grungy at the same time.
However, The Cult's seventh studio album eventually becomes tiresome and towards the end, you can feel this weakness pouring itself into the recording. The worst song by far on the album is “Ashes and ghosts”, a song which relies far too much on a polished production and a very weak instrumental performance, sounding as if the band are simply getting too old for this. They do manage to pull it off by the end on the closing double whammy of “True believers” and “My bridges burn”, but this unfortunately is too little and too late to regain any consistency that may have made the album's first half all the more effective and eccentric. That said, no song on Beyond Good and Evil
is particularly rubbish, but there are some which are notable for being more generic than others.
Beyond Good and Evil
simply does its job as a more or less remarkable comeback album for The Cult, who prior to 1999 found it difficult to hit the same heights as in their heyday over two decades ago. Devoted fans of the band will undoubtedly love this album for what it is, whereas newcomers may simply expect songs as nostalgic as “She sells sanctuary” and be left disappointed. The Cult have since gone from strength to strength with one album after the other, but the band's seventh album remains the one that really kicked them back into action.