After four albums of progressive refinement of their compositional abilities, sound, themes, and overall work, Cult of Luna is releasing their fifth and latest full-length, Eternal Kingdom on an increasingly rabid following of people who enjoy their records. Again this new record links its songs thematically in a cycle that deals with the world of a murdering lunatic of whom the band stumbled upon his writings in their practice space, which previously served as a lunatic asylum; interestingly the world is rather rich and makes for intriguing subject matter. Regardless of the subject matter or the thematic richness of the album, Eternal Kingdom does have quite the reputation to uphold when viewed in comparison with Cult of Luna's previous material, particularly the last two, Salvation and Somewhere Along the Highway. To say that Eternal Kingdom has its share of anticipation might be a rather large understatement.
Eternal Kingdom's opening salvo, "Owlwood" is much heavier than that of its immediate predecessor as Cult of Luna seem angrier at first but the music still is decidedly theirs. Those harsh vocals continue on through the ominous sounding title track to the album which has an excellent bass guitar part in the beginning that drives the song along its path; the rhythm of the song is actually pretty impressive and has a cut up feel that is initially disjarring, but becomes an interest drawing point in many forms and variations throughout the song as it pops in the guitars off and on during the whole track. The dynamic breadth which Cult of Luna attack "Ghost Trail" with, besides having one of their better melodic guitar leads contains some of the more explosive percussion the band puts to use, is impressive as the loud and quiet, harsh and soft, slow and fast juxtapositions accomplish an outstanding effect which greatly affects the mood. The relatively quiet opening strums and percussion of "Curse" build into a crashing slow burn that takes the band some time to allow the arrangement to breath a bit before moving on to a fairly chaotic section that seems a bit out of sorts for Cult of Luna; when the band returns to the main riff, the bass sound is particularly noteworthy (or it grabs my attention at least) and then the song fades. The closing track, "Following Betulas" is one of my favorite on Eternal Kingdom due to its use of interesting electronic noises that fill in and around the main instrumentation that the band use while the snare rolls are attention grabbing as well; the arrangement of the song is excellent and the subtle melodies take this piece to a level above some of the other tracks on this album.
Eternal Kingdom contains a large amount of material to listen to and digest, and while the album does not quite have the cohesive qualities which the last two albums contained, it sounds a bit more of a progression as Cult of Luna seems to tackle a more caustic sound while still incorporating the dynamics which they utilize so well on previous efforts. At the same time, Eternal Kingdom also is missing some of the grandiosity which Somewhere Along the Highway oozed in its arrangements, but this latest album seems much more focused and precisely executed than its predecessor does. Still, Eternal Kingdom is a strong album that is sure to win them over some new fans.
8.0 / 10
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