Review Summary: A seamless sonic flow which never seems to dwindle or deviate from its course.
The current state of the world may still be a nightmare for most bands, but some are making it work. Cult of Luna, a band with an already great legacy thanks to their game-changing contributions to post-metal over the previous two decades, have decided to not only release a new EP but also start up a fresh record label in Red Creek, a move which isn't so surprising but all the more satisfying as a result. When you consider that previous full-length A Dawn to Fear
was actually released in 2019 (but still feels like it was released in 2020, somehow), it makes a little more sense to release more new material, and thankfully, The Raging River
has arrived at just the right time.
Cult of Luna's desire to produce gargantuan musicianship continues here, and the opening bombast of "Three Bridges" will soundly confirm the band have lost absolutely none of the magic in their repertoire. Electronic and psychedelic flourishes give way to a hammering rhythm section, one supported by the woozy keyboard work throughout, and the heaviness is complemented by Persson's monstrous bellows as the words "Here Flows my Blood/This is my Home" echo with vigour. "What I Leave Behind" also embarks on a similarly bombastic approach but in much more immediate fashion, it's mid-paced slug through menacing chords giving way to more doom-laden keyboards, resulting in a sound which pushes you down further into the void. The keyboard work is so complementary of its neighbouring rhythm section here, impressing upon the listener that Cult of Luna still sound so collective
in their songwriting and musical approach. The way in which the EP's opening two songs glide and soar at just the right moments means that the musical direction has been penned impeccably, such is the seamless fluency of the musicianship.
Then things take a bit of a U-turn. Clearly The Raging River
's shortest song and definitely the most different of them all is "Inside of a Dream", a beautiful collaboration with singer/songwriter Mark Lanegan which goes to show Cult of Luna thoroughly enjoy working with different musicians and producing the same quality standards as a result. Lanegan offers such a fragile albeit fine-tuned vocal approach that you'd almost question the song's appearance considering its surrounding songs, but instead it offers a harmonious break from the storm of the previous two songs and allows an acoustic, bluesy flow to segue throughout the band's gentle composition. There are moments in other songs on The Raging River
that actually reflect on this quieter musicianship. "I Remember" begins heavily enough and when "With your Smile you bent Light" is bellowed into your psyche, you'd consider the next musical move to be even louder and beastlier. Instead, the guitar work becomes almost isolated and scatters its elegantly strung notes, the keyboard maintaining that woozy feel it did so well on the EP's first two songs but in much more restrained fashion. It almost sounds misplaced but allows the song to draw the listener in further, and builds up to an incredible outro with a mind-bending selection of riffs, leaving you wanting more of the same. Unfortunately, closer "Wave After Wave" proves to be the least memorable of the five songs on offer here and doesn't quite offer as much versatility in its wake, but it does make up for this thanks to the band returning to the initial bombastic voyage of "Three Bridges " and "What I Leave Behind".
Essentially, The Raging River
does a fine job of introducing a new label and soundly confirms that Cult of Luna are still very much alive and well. The musicianship is still electrifying, the songwriting ever seamless and the performance is still meritorious. You could almost argue that The Raging River
marks the closing of one era (I.e. the band's resurgence with A Dawn to Fear
) and the beginning of another, but more importantly it serves as further proof of a band at the very top of their game.