The Cult have been around for about thirty years. They are simply one of the oldest rock bands still around making good music. Their latest release, “Choice of Weapon”, is loaded with the band’s signature sounds. But, does it truly warrant a purchase? Andy Rackauskas goes Jim Jones and tries to join the cult of The Cult to find out…
Release Date - 5/22/12
Ian Astbury - lead vocals
Billy Duffy - guitars, background vocals
Chris Wyse - bass
John Tempesta – drums
Jamie Edwards - keyboards, strings
Chris Goss - guitars, background vocals
A.J. Celi - background vocals (on “Honey From a Knife”)
Bob Rock – Producer
Chriss Goss - Producer
All songs written by Ian Astbury and Billy Duffy.
1. "Honey from a Knife" - 3:06
2. "Elemental Light" - 4:45
3. "The Wolf" - 3:33
4. "Life>Death" - 5:32
5. "For the Animals" - 4:28
6. "Amnesia" - 3:02
7. "Wilderness Now" - 4:33
8. "Lucifer" - 4:40
9. "A Pale Horse" - 3:14
10. "This Night in the City Forever" - 4:45
The Cult got their start in 1981 under the name “Southern Death Cult”. Ian Astbury lead the group with Native American imagery and a goth vibe. The band then disbanded and re-grouped with Billy Duffy on guitar. They shortened the name called themselves Death Cult, and focused a little more on rock. After a little time, they decided to keep it simple, dropped “Death”, and became “The Cult” in 1983. The band has seen an ever rotating crew of drummers, bassists and second guitarists come and go through the years. However, Ian Astbuty and Billy Duffy have always been and will be “The Cult”.
The Cult’s big three albums are “Love” (produced by Steve Brown with a decidedly more gothic lean), “Electric” (produced by Rick Rubin with a decidedly more hard rock lean) and “Sonic Temple” (produced by Bob Rock with a sound that meshed the other two albums’ sounds). “Choice of Weapon” is again produced by Bob Rock. The results are similar to “Sonic Temple”. Astbury’s vocals are a little grittier than on those classic releases, but that’s to be expected when you’re fifty! But, don’t short change his range and singing ability because of his age. Ian still sounds great and can hold any note. There’s just a little more roughness around the edges in his singing. Also note that this is the first time in a while The Cult have had the same personnel as a previous album. Both bassist, Chris Wyse and drummer, John Tempesta (ex-White Zombie) were on their last album.
The album opens up with “Honey from a Knife”. It rocks from the get-go. It’s pure Cult and is about as straight forward a rocker as you can get. The occasional keyboards almost give it an odd Stooges vibe. “The Wolf” is another hard rocker. It’s tied for best track on the album with “Lucifer”. The riff on “The Wolf” is powerful. Duffy really captures a primal feel in a few chords. As rockin’ as it gets, there is a feeling that this could have been a missing track off of their “Love” album. “Lucifer”, on the other hand, is more of a missing “Sonic Temple” song. It has a heavy riff that enthralls and spells doom at the same time. Lastly, some minor electronica elements give it an otherworldly vibe.
Some other strong tracks on the album include “For the Animals” and “Elemental Light”. “For the Animals” is another big rocker that again has nuances of the Stooges. “Elemental Light” is a slow starter, but builds in intensity as it goes. It’s got a Death Cult/early Cult essence that sounds a bit like a Native American chant.
The only real disappointment is “Amnesia”. It rocks, but goes nowhere. The bassline is fun, but the riff just doesn’t connect.
If you’re looking for some good, straight forward rock, “Choice of Weapon” delivers the goods. In fact, The Cult have been delivering just that for about thirty years. “Choice of Weapon” doesn’t quite rate as high as “Love”, “Electric”, or “Sonic Temple”, but it still is a solid album worthy of The Cult’s catalog. There are simply enough great songs and only a few not-so-great ones that make the album worth a listen.
The Cult – “The Wolf”
The Cult – “Lucifer”
The 411: “Weapon of Choice” is pretty much what one would expect from The Cult. No real new ground is broken. But, as Motorhead has proven over its existence, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! The album is a worthy addition to The Cult’s vast repertoire. There is only one real dud, but there are more than a few gems. We keep getting the idea that “rock is dead” shoved down our throats by many in the media. This album alone proves them wrong. Rock isn’t dead, you’ve just got to look a little harder for it. Nothing good comes easy…