Cult Of Luna Somewhere Along the Highway

It’s not the first time I’ve said this, but music like Cult of Luna (or Isis, or Neurosis) is just so difficult to digest it’s hard to want to absorb it more than once a month or so. But I love the stuff — this idea of metal as art becoming clearer with each release by that trio of biggies. With this latest, Sweden’s seven-piece Cult of Luna prove they are without a doubt up there with the main players of this difficult micro-genre. With the requisite long songs, penchant for drama, slugged-out tempos and the expected experimentation, these guys manage to add in a whole lot of personality, and a vibe that is more of the city, more modern urban alienation versus Neurosis’ lost in the wilderness paranoia. With a great sounding banjo making a welcome appearance, this album does sound a lot like the band’s last. But add in some creepy, near-Tom Waits moments in the excellently-titled "And with Her Came the Birds” and more of the vibe that only this band create in "Dim” — arguably the centrepiece of the album — and it becomes clear that it really wouldn’t matter if these guys just released the exact same album over and over again. (They’re good enough that it’d be worth buying every time.) By the time the 15-minute closer, "Dark City Dead Man,” hits, the feeling is not unlike a great work of fiction ending — a bit of sadness it’s over, but a life enriched, and a lurking excitement about repeating the experience. (Earache)