The Cult – Under the Midnight Sun (Album Review)

The Cult – Under the Midnight Sun (Album Review)

The legacy of The Cult goes a long way back. Formed in 1983, in Bradford, West Yorkshire, England, the music of the renowned band remarkably evolved from the Glam-influenced Gothic Rock of 1984’s Dreamtime (“Spiritwalker”) and 1985’s Love (“She Sells Sanctuary”) to the metallic-plated and electrically charged triumvirate of 1987’s Electric (“Love Removal Machine”), 1989’s Sonic Temple (“Fire Woman”), and 1991’s Ceremony (“Wild-Hearted Son”). Everything that came after was a sort of a stylistic plateau.

But now, six years after their last record, 2016’s Hidden City, The Cult’s main men, Founders Ian Astbury (lead vocals) and Billy Duffy (guitars, backing vocals), emerge once again re-energized and inspired as ever, with their eleventh offering, Under the Midnight Sun.

Slated for release on Friday, October 7, 2022, via Black Hill Records, Under the Midnight Sun is a return to The Cult’s original sound of the Post-Punk era. Complete with eight new songs, it opens with the smooth, slightly slashing swagger of “Mirror.” The ensuing “A Cut Inside” is a bit sharper, more imposing, and confident; splintering shards of the band’s classic “Go West (Crazy Spinning Circles).” With “Vendetta X,” The Cult then takes the listener to a familiar place–dark, cold, sinister; waving, undulating, reverberating. Following next is the album’s lead single–“Give Me Mercy”–another brilliant amalgamation of Duffy’s compelling music and Astbury’s haunting lyrics.

The current then gets deeper, and the waves higher, as the synth-drenched “Outer Heaven” reveals its sonic beauty and existentialist tendencies. And then the listener’s innermost sensibilities get touched by the soulful, acoustic, and bluesy shamanic hand of “Knife Through Butterfly Heart”; the initiated will remember eerie memories of goodbye lullabies. Ciao, baby.

The penultimate track, “Impermanence” is pure Gothic Rock – black eyeliners, psychedelic sunset, reverb and flanger, black lights, and unforgettable nights. Finally, Astbury, Duffy, and the rest of The Cult–John Tempesta (drums, percussion), Grant Fitzpatrick (bass, backing vocals), and Damon Fox (keyboards, rhythm guitar, backing vocals)–conclude Under the Midnight Sun with the dramatic, mystical, and idyllic title-track.

Troubled by musical differences and lots of personnel changes in the past, Astbury and Duffy have always managed to keep The Cult afloat and relevant. Their willingness to push their own boundaries, while still being able to stay rooted in their beginnings, enabled them to keep on making new music.

In enough words, Under the Midnight Sun is not only a worthy addition to the band’s discography; it is also a homage to their origin. It will certainly earn the approval of the enduring band’s legion of fans and the curiosity of today’s Rock-loving youngsters. That is why Cryptic Rock gives Under the Midnight Sun 4 out of 5 stars.

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aLfie vera mella
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Born in 1971, in Metro Manila, Philippines, aLfie vera mella is a healthcare worker, singer/songwriter, and editor/writer. He was the frontman of the ’90s-peaking Philippine Alternative Rock / New Wave band Half Life Half Death, which released a full-length album and several singles on Viva Records. aLfie worked at Diwa Scholastic Press as an editor/writer of academic textbooks and supplementary magazines, focusing on Science & Technology and English Grammar & Literature. In 2003, aLfie migrated to Canada; he has since been living in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He works full-time at a healthcare institution, while serving as the associate contributing editor of Filipino Journal—a local community newspaper in Winnipeg—tackling Literature, Languages, Cultures, Lifestyles, and Music. aLfie has been a music journalist since the mid-’90s for various print magazines as well as websites. He started writing album reviews for Cryptic Rock in 2015. In 2016, aLfie published Part One (Literature & Languages and Their Cultural Significance) of his Essay Series, Can You Hear the Sound of a Falling Leaf?; in 2021, his first book of poetry, Pag-íhip sa Dáhon ng Kahápon [Blowing Leaves of Yesterday]. In his spare time, he enjoys reading books and listening to music. aLfie is a dedicated father to his now 13-year-old son, Evawwen; and a loving husband to Kathryn Mella, who herself moonlights also as a writer aside from holding a degree in Bachelor of Arts, Major in Sociology.

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