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Cult Of Luna - Cult Of Luna & Julie Christmas: Mariner CD (album) cover

CULT OF LUNA & JULIE CHRISTMAS: MARINER

Cult Of Luna

 

Experimental/Post Metal

3.90 | 40 ratings

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CassandraLeo
5 stars With Isis broken up and Neurosis' Honor Found in Decay proving less satisfactory to fans than most of that seminal band's previous releases, a strong case could be made that Cult of Luna are now the standard-bearers of post-metal. They have released a string of genre-defining masterpieces, amongst them their self-titled album, Salvation, Somewhere Along the Highway, and Vertikal, and there are really very few other artists in the genre who manage the sophistication of their music.

Their latest work, Mariner, is a collaboration with renowned post-metal vocalist Julie Christmas. If anything, I would say the addition of Christmas to their sound has pushed the quality and scope of the band's compositions to new heights. This album is a concept album about space exploration, and the music is suitably grandiose to match. Christmas is an absurdly versatile vocalist, capable of evoking every emotion imaginable impeccably through both her beautiful clean singing and her spine-tingling screams. The Cult of Luna vocalists throw in some of their own vocals for contrast, and they too vary between harsh vocals and clean singing. There has never been more vocal versatility on a Cult of Luna album, and the benefit to the music is immense.

The compositions on this album include some of the band's best, but particular standout tracks include the opener "A Greater Call", which sets the tone of the album superbly, and the closer "Cygnus", which may honestly be the single best post-metal song I have ever heard. The band layers walls upon walls of everything into the song as it builds to its climax and the effect is like nothing I've ever heard before. The vocals in particular stand out (I know I've already spent several sentences praising the vocal work on this album, but really).

I would recommend interested listeners pick up either the vinyl edition of this album or the Japanese import, as both feature as a bonus track "Beyond the Redshift". It differs from most of the rest of the content of the album by being a serene ambient piece with only occasional wordless vocals in the background preventing it from being a complete instrumental.

My only significant disappointment about this album is that they apparently aren't planning on performing any of its material live. I can't express how much I'd love to see this material live. I find myself strongly wishing the band would invite Christmas to become their permanent vocalist and perform the whole album live. That would be an experience I would be sure never to forget.

This album is monumental, and is likely to be viewed in ten years' time as one of the defining works of post-metal. The only release I have heard this year that I would rank above it is David Bowie's Blackstar, and I have a very difficult time imagining any metal release this year topping this.

CassandraLeo | 5/5 |

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