The 80s are known as the decade of excess. It was a decade that didn’t take itself too seriously. There were plenty of questionable fashion choices as well as musical choices, but I think the decade gets a bad rap. There were so many awesome (no I’m not going to say totally) things that came from the 80s. On the music front, the Cult provided us with a sound quite different from the synth music at the front of the decade and the hair metal at the end of it. They were gritty rockers who delivered music of substance and power.
It’s hard to believe that it’s been over 25 years since their debut album Dreamtime was released. Well, the guys are back with a new album entitled Choice of Weapon which is produced by Chris Gross (Queens of the Stone Age) and Bob Rock. Fans of the band are familiar with Bob Rock as he has worked with the band numerous times including producing one of the band’s most popular albums Sonic Temple. It won’t take long to hear Rock’s touch on this album.
The album opens with “Honey from a Knife” which shows guitarist Billy Duffy in rare form. This guy just seems to get better with age and hasn’t lost a bit of his edge. There is a weird chorus chant of “we’ve got the drugs, we’ve got the drug, the drugs in here” which I can’t decide if I like it or not. You have to hear it to totally understand where I am coming from. It may be knit-picking, but I’m on the fence on that small inclusion.
I can’t help but wonder if “The Wolf” may have began as a demo during the recording of the Love album. It has a vibe that’s a bit similar to “She Sells Sanctuary” and could have easily come out of that same recording session. Needless to say, it’s an awesome track; a straight ahead rocker that has classic Cult written all over it.
Ian Astbury truly shines on “Lucifer”. If there’s one song on this album that truly reminded me why I fell in love with his voice almost 30 years ago, it would be this one. His voice is full of power and passion and just soars. Ian’s vocals sound stronger than ever. Ian even slows it down to show a different side of himself on the song “Life > Death”. It’s a power ballad for modern times whose arrangement is as multi-layered as Ian’s vocals are.
Overall, this is a very impressive album. The musicianship is top notch and a major two thumbs up to John Tempesta on drums and Chris Wyse on bass. These guys form a solid and tight rhythm section that fits perfectly with Ian and Duffy. The album contains traces of the classic Cult sound, but it doesn’t rely solely on that sound. The band sounds tight and on top of their game. There were quite a few amazing things that the 80s gave us and the Cult belongs right there on that list.