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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