Evolving over the period of four decades, legendary goth rockers The Cult have adapted to what at times can only be described as a bumpy road.
Having survived what most fans saw as the end of the road, the band re-emerged as a unit, managing to keep a flow of recorded music going until the late 1990s, when the need for another break lurked in the background, and similar action was soon be taken. Re-appearing in 2006, the band have remain active.
Some style components just don’t change, and rightly the British rock group keenly hold on to their heavy rhythmic base coupled with mystical, dark atmospherics. While energy levels in recent years have faded, they continue to make up for it in nuance, using their skill to add crisp, sonic colour and finesse to their songs, and ‘Under the Midnight Sun’ falls into that category.
The vibe of the eleventh studio album takes some inspiration from a visit to a Finnish summer festival and Ian Astbury experiences the compelling arctic phenomenon, where the sun doesn’t go down, it is an incredible moment, which later will transport the singer on to a new mystical path, and ultimately enrich this album project.
Atmospheric opener ‘Mirror’ is a fitting intro. Tackling the idea of understanding, but showing a determination to forget what you know, take a new approach, a more in-depth look at things. It’s a gradual build up, arranged to prepare you for the seven remaining tracks, where soft guitar lines and dramatic vocals deliver a solid start before the epic, more brooding ‘A Cut Inside’ begins.
‘Give Me Mercy’ is anthemic, more pop-like in its accessibility, it offers clarity of expression with wording such as “You’re so hard to tame”, “I don’t know which way to turn”, the words become more conclusive in tone towards the end of the song, and hope is inserted, represented by the words “Love will find you”.
Elsewhere, the upbeat, fast-paced ‘Outer Heaven’ demonstrates Billy Duffy’s versatility as a guitarist, the catchy chorus energises, while ‘Knife Through Butterfly Heart’ is folky in feel with soft guitar lines and reflective lyrics looking back on “that summer”, some gothic mystique is felt on ‘Impermanence’, before the title track completes events in definitive, majestic style.
The album shows The Cult taking their musicality, sonic tricks and experience to a new place, still retaining their identity, and this can only be a good thing.
Words: Susan Hansen