By Raymond Westland
There’s a category of bands who have witnessed mainstream success, but they never lost their integrity or musical vision. Tool and Radiohead are such bands and the same goes for Tool, Jane’s Addiction, Deftones, Faith No More and Killing Joke. The Cult is another band I highly praise for their originality and crossover genre appeal. After several years of absence Ian Astbury and Co return to the scene with a new album, entitled Choice Of Weapon. Let’s see what it has to offer.
I’m quite surprised that the Cult decided to embark on a new venture like Choice Of Weapon, because Ian Astbury declared the album format dead and void in several interviews. The band did release some EPs or capsules, but I’m glad they decided to rethink that approach. Without further ado I want to state that Choice Of Weapon is an excellent rock album that can easily hold its own against classic The Cult albums, like Love (1985), Electric (1987) and Sonic Temple (1989). It’s quite a statement, but Choice Of Weapon is simply that good.
This is not an album full of arena rockers, like “Sweet Soul Sister”, “She Sells Sanctuary” or “Love Removal Machine”. Choice Of Weapon is more about intelligently and diligently crafted songs with lots of depth, without getting bogged down in a mud pull of pretentious bigotry. “Honey From A Knife” is an uptempo rocker that could have easily been included on Velvet Revolver’s Contraband. “Elemental Light” and “Life > Death” have David Bowie written allover them.
“For The Animals”, “Amnesia” and “A Pale Horse” are just classic The Cult songs, very much in the vein of Love and Electric, but without sounding dated or obsolete. Besides the killer song material it’s very much a guitar driven album where Billy Duffy really shines. Ian Astbury’s vocal chords are somewhat tarnished through years of abuse, but they do give Choice Of Weapon a lovely ragged and melancholic age. He’s one of the last true poets within the rock genre and it’s his cryptic lyrics that still give The Cult its edge.
The production values of this album are expertly handled by some of the biggest names in the business, namely former Metallica producer Bob Rock and Masters Of Reality mastermind Chris Goss (Queens Of The Stone Age, Mark Lanagan). They gave Choice Of Weapon its timeless sound.
Choice Of Weapon won’t have the same impact as on the general public like Electric and Sonic Temple had back in the day. The times have changed too much for that. Having said that, this album has some inherit traits that many albums of today sorely miss, namely honesty, artistic vision and a timeless quality. Astbury and Duffy still have a lot to say. Choice Of Weapon is arguably one of their finest musical manifests to date.