Cult Of Luna isn’t a new name for the European metal community and it’s for sure one of the most renowned. These guys come from the Sweden city of Umeå, a place that saw the rise and growth of peculiar extreme bands in the new millennium (just to quote one among the others, Meshuggah). It seems that in this cold land a fusion between many styles is born, sometimes united under the tag of progressive metal. In the case of Cult Of Luna, the union traits are sludge riffing, atmospheric black and lyrics influenced by doom, all resumed under the term post-metal. But we’re not here to discuss the validity of tags but to describe the latest work of a band which only purpose is to stay true to what they are without too much overthinking: A Dawn To Fear is the title of the album and it’s a monumental one indeed, eight songs for a total length of 79 minutes. In a recent Q&A Johannes Persson, guitarist and vocalist, explained the title of the record: it came out during a walk along a river and when he turned his head to the east he saw the light of dawn and thought about the emotional situation that he was living in that moment, with awful personal happenings that everyone must face up now or then and the imagery made the title pop up: A Dawn To Fear. Without further ado, let’s dig into the matter.
- The Silent Man
- Lay Your Head To Rest
- A Dawn To Fear
- Lights On The Hill
- We Feel The End
- Inland Rain
- The Fall
The Silent Man is the first single extracted from A Dawn To Fear. The video clip shows a mature man that enters in a creepy estate where some people wait for him, but they are not real, they’re ghosts of the past, gone people that occur in the memory of the silent man: the dead, the grieving and the mother. The grieving man gives the protagonist a parchment that was kept in the hands of the dead, showing the cover of the album, and the mother wears a necklace with a charm portraying the same image. At the end, the man doesn’t keep the silence because when he realizes the loss of his beloved ones, he screams at the ocean, an allegory of the darkness of the memories and of an even darker future. There’s no choice but to cross the ocean to reach the pulsating light of dawn on the horizon. The song opens with beautiful organ swells of the intro riff, and takes the organ back in the outro, haunting as an obscure cathedral but with the dim light in the background.
Lay Your head To Rest is the second single and prosecutes the story of the first one. Apparently, drown in the ocean, the silent man wakes up on a shore, in front of two children. Speechlessly, they bring him in the forest to let him find a thing: the same necklace of the previous video-clip. As the protagonist wears it, a spark of a flame enlightens the charm and the poor man is burned out by the fire. A drone sliding note guides the walk from the beginning to the end, flawlessly coming to the arrival of another organ sound, closing the piece on a tragic progression.
And now the title track: A Dawn To Fear. Nice atmospheric intro, soft guitars partly close to the listener, partly far in the distance in the mix, tambourine-like drums to build up the tune, lyrics providing a fusion between the vision of the dawn in a cold morning and the melancholic thoughts provoked by the sight: the skyline marks a border to what never will return. Again, an omnipresent organ offers a tribute to the sun that rises.
The Nightwalkers aren’t the zombie-like ones in Game Of Thrones. They are the entity that rules the winter thoughts and to which the band offers its admission. Bombastic drums and bass give the feeling to be marching on towards the end. Dusky guitars set the tone until a break in the middle, just before diving again into the snow.
Instead of marching fast, the Lights On The Hill come slowly, mated by guitars playing an ineluctable ballad, before accelerating on the point of no return of the descent. The vocals come in after six minutes and a half of the intro, angry and unstoppable, screaming at the lights that don’t bring peace but enlighten the truth of the loss, an outcast doomed to wander alone.
Gloomy strings and delayed bass opens We Feel The End, a title that’s uncompromising regards to the topic. Overdub vocals pray to break, sleep, wake, breath, in the track that pretends to be the atmospheric one of the record when in reality all the songs focus on the atmosphere, but where the music is mainly focused on blending fury with melancholy, this one is only imbued with tranquility and acceptance, elements testified by a sort of carillon at the end.
Inland Rain is the song that marks the coming of the end of the album. It’s a little more moving than the previous ones, with more spaces between the chords and a 12/8 cadence and these features avoid the overplay of repetition in a record that makes the loop of the sections its foundation. But the last touch of fury is going to come. The Fall marks the coming of the homonymous season, a sort of stone-on-stone noise gives the initial pulse, the organ and guitars that feel familiar at this point trace the first steps with a little bit of blues. The final tune is more than thirteen minutes of length and is made out of rage parts and peaceful intervals between them, so the length doesn’t affect the enjoyment. The last memories of the dead people fade away with the sun that now has risen: time to go over.
This is a record that’s hard to listen to: heavy and very long, it will make you think about your haunting past. The topics of the loss and the departure are well rendered by smart usage of different organs, played in order to give a particular color to every song while the basics remain the same at every piece. Rage and melancholy, but also a light at the end of the dark sea.
Written for you by Music Pills
Previous heavy rock / sludgy thing: Beastwars and their “IV” album
Previous monumental metal album: Devin Townsend and his Empath
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