Cult Of Luna + A.A. Williams and Brutus
Z7, Pratteln, Switzerland
Cult Of Luna’s power lies in their ability to build layers of sound and with it, layers of emotion. Their live show has long been held in high regard for its stunning light effects, the huge walls of sound that embrace you from the outset and the divine catharsis that can be found when the final notes finally fade out. Tonight the anticipation for their performance is high and the supporting acts feed into that feeling; both A.A.Williams and Brutus bring their own take on post-metal to the hangar like space of the Z7, and in doing so build the electric atmosphere for Cult of Luna’s time on stage.
First, British artist A.A.Williams brings a simpler sound to the stage, yet with that starker aura comes waves of emotion that causes many to exhale with release when each song ends, as though Williams is singing their thoughts and giving a voice to feelings that have long been burning within. Her music is powerful in its quieter moments and gives space for the guitars to showcase cascading progressions. Post-metal is known for its shimmering guitar lines and A.A.Williams brings many of those beautiful notes to her performance while the songs themselves curl around the audience leaving many here tonight with a new outlook and a new artist to admire.
Next, Belgium’s Brutus take the stage and bring an altogether different kind of sound to the proceedings. Vocalist/drummer Stefanie is a powerhouse of a frontperson and the punk rock infused drums that they play are contrasted sharply by the radiance of the guitars, their post-metal leaning way out of the usual sound yet still sounding cohesive, tight and mesmerising. Their songs often end abruptly which leaves the audience wanting, needing more and their final song is a culmination of all that desire. Stefanie’s voice soars over the atmospheric guitars of “Sugar Dragon,” cracking with pure anguish as the song builds towards its finale while Brutus take their sound into deeply melancholic territory as the song and its crescendo hits with controlled force before falling away into the ether. It’s a powerful and breathtaking end to a set that gives many here a tangible feeling of hopelessness and sorrow.
As the audience try to come to terms with the desolation that Brutus left in their wake, the stage is slowly set up for tonight’s main event. Sweden’s Cult Of Luna are currently touring their latest record, A Dawn to Fear, which spoke of vulnerability and the renewal that it can bring and tonight the hope is that Cult of Luna will bring much in the way of cleansing. Their backdrop is hung in several pieces, echoing the sails of a ship, moving in the breeze and allowing the band to guide us on a journey of rebirth and acceptance,
Tonight the set is culled mainly from A Dawn to Fear, Vertikal I & II and Somewhere Along the Highway and the way in which the songs are put together are magical. The rise and fall of the music is tempered with the slower moments of “And With Her Came The Birds”, a calmer and softer piece that allows space to breathe after the opening tracks “The Silent Man” through to “I: The Weapon” have ramped up the tension to an unbearable degree. This drop back into subtle territory is required in order to process the weight of what came before and the gorgeous vocal lines from Fredrik Kihlberg, deep and rich, add to the affecting atmosphere.
This tranquility continues into “Lights on the Hill,” which begins on simpler textures before slowly building its fifteen minute runtime towards main vocalist Johannes Persson’s gritty and powerful voice. Persson’s presence is one of dynamism, often driving the songs towards the huge and final moments with a voice commands attention, yet he does not overshadow or overwhelm the band or the music. Instead, he establishes the narrative, guides the audience through the peaks and troughs of the songs, shows us when it’s time to take a breath and steers us towards the ultimate end.
“Lights on the Hill” lays down the foundations for the last three songs of the evening in its creation of dense textures and layers of sound, allowing “”In Awe Of,” “Passing Through” and “The Fall” to truly annihilate with their energy. These final songs run for almost thirty minutes, such is the scale of Cult of Luna’s musical palette but not once do you feel that it is too much, rather once it is over there are calls for more. Cult Of Luna give so much of themselves during their performances and tonight they play for ninety minutes - it is exhausting, no doubt, and unfortunately the band have nothing left to give. They are spent, they have obtained release and they have worked through the fragile nature of what life gives us.
“The Fall” echoes this sentiment with huge swells of guitar, riding the notion that time will heal us if only we allow it to. It is a perfect ending to a set that pulls the deepest emotions from all those in attendance and gives a sense of hope for a future that looks more and more uncertain with each passing day.
The setlist can be explored here.