Sunday, 8 May 2016

And with her came the birds

April 14th / The Introduction

My pre-order of "Mariner" limited edition CD album has been dispatched from Amazon today and it is on it's way to me. It is an album written by Sweden's post-metal pioneers "Cult of Luna" in collaboration with the frantic and luscious vocalist Julie Christmas from now already defunct bands "Made out of babies" and "Battle of Mice".

I've started listening to Cult of Luna, when I was about 16 years old. Their music took up quite a significant portion of my everyday listening material back then. Over the years I've neglected them, only occasionally returning back to the all time favorite tracks like "Leave me here", "Circle" and "Dark City, dead man". I guess they got too boring for my taste as my musical view widened. So I stopped following this band up until they had released their album "Vertikal", which to my surprise was in one word - fantastic. As for Julie, well, her voice can be sweet and soothing or out of control and menacing, her lyrics - bizarre and her looks - stunning. It may seem like it, but let me assure you, that I don't have a crush on her... although I must admit she is really hot. Around 7 years have passed since I first heard Battle of Mice's "A Day of Nights" record, and yet I still think that the track "Sleep & Dream" has one of the most awe inspiring lyrics I've heard in a metal song to this day.

Based on, what I wrote in the previous paragraph, you might guess the reason, why I've been dying to get this record in my possession immediately after I saw the teaser for it. 

To make things more interesting for myself and to raise the anticipation, I have decided to listen to it only, when I will receive the physical copy. Now I just need not to get my expectations up too high.

April 19th / The Trial

Mariner is finally here. Time to listen to it.

Greater call - A splendid intro followed by the not so splendid and in-your-face Perrson's vocals! Why? Why, in the name of all that is sacred in metal, couldn't his vocals be at the same level Julie's vocals are on this track? The weird "core" like riff @3:55 didn't make much sense as well. Apart from having quite ugly parts, the song also contains excellent bits, so taking that in consideration, I will listen further and not just stop the record here. Although I'm beginning to feel as if all of this could be a monstrous disappointment.

Chevron contains one of the smoothest transitions between tracks since ever, yet it is a pity, that the rest of the song is a total meh-fest. Unmemorable, no tasty riffs, no hooks, no grooves, no nothing...

The Wreck of S.S. Needle - Finally a decent and memorable track. The vocals are a bit too high in the mix at times though. I'm getting kinda tired of vocals being shoved down my throat at this point. It feels like the audio engineer tried making voices the focal point of the whole album. The production is screaming: "WITNESS the vocals! Don't waste your time appreciating the outstanding instrumentation!" In my opinion vocal and instrumentation levels should be kept as they are at 4:40 everywhere throughout the record. That part of the song is mesmerizing both musically and production wise.

Approaching Transition - It seems like the previous track was a juncture. Probably that was the moment, when the band decided not to suck a bag of dicks on this record and try sounding awesome instead.

The beautiful and spacey vibes are accompanied by processed clean vocals. The effects used here make lead singer's voice sound like it is coming from the drain-pipe, which is pretty cool, if you ask me. Around 9th minute the song reaches it's climax and a nice, destructive riff kicks in, soon after it fades into nothingness, and I can't decide whether it is good or not.

Cygnus - At motherfucking last everything stands into it's rightful place! Thank you! The instruments, the vocals and the effects are all in equilibrium. Nothing pops out from the mix.

This is a bit unusual for post-metal, but the track actually contains a guitar solo. If done correctly, an occasional solo here and there, as long as it doesn't turn into pretentious fret-board wanking, adds another layer to the song, freshens things up and makes everything sound a bit more psychedelic.

A superb song! Definitely my favorite track here. I just wish the whole record was like this...

May 8th / The Verdict

The boxing is delightful and whoever created the design for the cover and that digibook deserves a pat on the back. It is both ascetic and fine polished.

As for the music itself, the first two tracks sucked big time. The rest was good. It isn't Cult's best work up to date that's for sure, but it's definitely good. Same goes for Julie. I must say, that the production and mastering ruined it for me. I'm a fan of a rawer sound and Mariner was missing the "hair" - everything sounded too polished, too modern and too clean. Vocal levels were a complete turnoff as well, because at times they were too loud and distracting from the quite impressive instrumentation parts.

A solid 6/10. If the first two tracks would be non-existent, I would rate it 8/10. 

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