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Cult Of Luna - Eternal Kingdom (9/10) - Sweden - 2008

Genre: Progressive Doom Metal / Avantgarde Metal
Label: Earache
Playing time: 60:50
Band homepage: Cult Of Luna

Tracklist:

  1. Owlwood
  2. Eternal Kingdom
  3. Ghost Trail
  4. The Lure (Interlude)
  5. Mire Deep
  6. The Great Migration
  7. Osterbotten
  8. Curse
  9. Ugin
  10. Following Betulas
Cult Of Luna - Eternal Kingdom

I am reticent to ever suggest the lyrical or thematic genesis for an album can influence to any large degree the music that eventually pours out from the band who one may be discussing at the time. While these characteristics take on a life of their own, I tend to think that the music is generally set and created separately. However, when it comes to CULT OF LUNA’s newest release “Eternal Kingdom”, it is difficult not to think that the predicament the band found themselves in, which influenced the album’s themes, didn’t also contribute to the rich and dark soundscape the record entails.

 

Rehearsing in an abandoned mental institution, the members of COL found odd and intriguing furniture and writings. One of these strange findings was a journal written by Holger Nilsson, a man who had murdered his wife and subsequently kept a personal journal that was replete with an entire universe of fictional characters and its own weird and disturbing hierarchy of animals and beings. With that knowledge in hand, it’s easy to see why “Eternal Kingdom” not only portrays this world lyrically but also has a psychotic and darkened sense musically, though staying within the Post-Metal sensibility for a lot of its time.

 

Time signatures come and go, light meets dark and throughout the record we are encapsulated in a near suffocating world of rage and desolate melancholy. This may seem like most of the genre’s signature musical sign posts, but “Eternal Kingdom” is a darker and weirder outing than COL’s previous efforts and pushes the boundaries of the style so often measured by bands like ISIS, NEUROSIS, MOUTH OF THE ARCHITECT and others. Heavy and deep, the songs can then take not just a lighter tone at a second’s turn but one that conveys a thoughtfulness that is rarely portrayed musically; it is as if one is on a journey inside Nilsson’s bizarre world with it’s nearly wistful animal personas but never far from this seeming blithe story is the sombre thought of a madman and his murderous past. “Eternal Kingdom” depicts this psychic schism with moments of heavy, fathomless chugging chords juxtaposed against not just passages but at times entire movements and tracks that convey an incursion into the fantasy universe of a madman, with synths and liberal use of horns that really do a great job of enriching such a mood and musical choice. As a whole this album is heavy, both sonically and thematically. What makes these moments so deep and powerful are the opposing instances where the band pulls on the obviously surreal elements of their muse and depict it through vast and varied landscape of mellow yet still taught levity. Perhaps a little too out-there for some, I think this is definitely the finest effort from an already stellar career.

(Online December 14, 2008)

Stephen Rafferty



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