Album Review

Cult Of Luna – A Dawn To Fear: Album Review

Label: Metal Blade

Format: CD / LP / DD

Released: 20th September 2019

Spanning eight tracks and a whopping 79 minutes, A Dawn To Fear is everything you have come to expect from Cult Of Luna.

Wasting no time in pummelling the senses, The Silent Man opens up the album in anything but silent fashion. There is no harmonic posturing here; just an intention to go for the jugular. Pounding drums and wickedly dense chugging guitars set the tone. A breakdown in the middle of the song allows for breath but the white knuckle opening doesn’t really let up.

Nightwalkers proves to be a another winding road of emotions. The harsh vocals throughout are punishing but the tempo changes and flashes of light in the more upbeat tempo of the drumming is at times a welcome change. Hammond organ backs the relentless drumming and guitars that play out the remainder of the track.

A bass led intro to Lay Your Head To Rest gives way to a riff reminiscent of Joy Division’s New Dawn Fades. In fact, it fits more with Moby’s reinterpretation of the song; probably not a coparison you’d expect to read in a review of Cult Of Luna!

We knew exactly the album we wanted to make, and that was the antithesis of everything we’ve done before. For pretty much every album there’s been a very concrete theme. We’ve known from the start the kind of story we wanted to tell, and I didn’t want that to be the case. I’ve seen a lot of subtle changes and patterns in my own behavior and my own thinking the last couple of years, and I wanted this to be a completely spontaneous process. I just wanted to see what came out of me, and ‘A Dawn To Fear’ is the result of that.

Johannes Persson on recording A Dawn To Fear

The title track of the album has the most ominous tone to it. A lamenting guitar solo is the centrepiece of the track which is then shattered by a bludgeoning hit from the collective power of the band. Not for the first time, the music is completely pulverizing.

Lights On The Hill is the longest track on A Dawn To Fear, weighing in at just over fifteen minutes. A casual listen, this is not. Slow marching drums and chiming guitars build the tension to a palpable level before the inevitable Cult Of Luna crescendo.

Many of the tracks here follow a pattern where the band uses their cataclysmic might to maximum effect, but make no mistake, this is not a record that relies on the same impact in volume each time around.

Cult Of Luna

Every tender moment and every crushing is unique and well thought through by the band. Lights On The Hill’s climactic build up and slower payoff is truly epic. It is a joy to bask in the music of this band, despairing or not! Nearly half the duration gives way before any vocals are sung. Whilst every element of the music is vital, the vocals are very fleeting in this masterful post rock song. It is a breathtaking fifteen minutes to give yourself over too.

It took a very long time to write the record, but it also felt very fast, because for me, writing a song can take anything from one day to maybe a year. There’s one song on there, ‘Nightwalkers’, which took forever to write. The main riff was written and I tried a lot of different ways of tying it together, and it took a lot of different versions to finally complete it.

Johannes Persson on songwriting for A Dawn To Fear

By their own admission, the band don’t tour too much as they want to keep their love of touring special and sacrosanct. To hear some of these songs played live will be a spectacle. The passion and sonic nature of the whole of A Dawn To Fear will leave a mark on you.

We Feel The End offers a more relaxed breather before the band beat you even further with the closing duo of songs; Inland Rain and The Fall.

Inland Rain is a hulking composition that helps keep the trajectory and pace of the album on course allowing for no filler over the vast playing time.

This bombastic triumph of an album concludes with arguably the highlight of the LP, The Fall. Deep bass, chining guitars, harsh vocals, swirling guitars and impeccable drumming all coalesce to form a huge ending fitting, for a huge album.

Cult Of Luna are a real treasure of a band. Each record is an event, and with A Dawn To Fear, they’ve recorded their heaviest effort for a while. In a time when it’s easy to skip tracks and access music so readily, Cult Of Luna demand you listen to the long player. I for one, have loved investing in it.

Cult Of Luna: Website / Facebook / Twitter


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