June 6, 2008 | | 4

Cult of Luna, Eternal Kingdom

Having already established themselves as one the more prevalent acts in the sludge fueled post hardcore world, Cult of Luna have decided to change things up a bit with Eternal Kingdom. Oh, don’t worry. There’s more sludgy goodness than you care for, but this latest album from the group has much more to it. Based on a journal of one Holger Nilsson — a convicted murder and mental patient — that was found in the rehearsal space that the band currently occupied, Eternal Kingdom is a concept album of sorts.

Building off of the ramblings within those journal entries, Cult of Luna have masterfully woven a caustic, sludgy bit of metal that borders on the insane at just about every turn. Raw vocals tell the story of two worlds — one good and one evil — as caustic guitars and punishing rhythms build the soundtrack to the story with rusty textures and sludgy atmosphere.

“Owlwood” opens up the concept album softly at first as gruff vocals come in. The song builds slowly over the first few minutes as thick bass and crushing, discordant riffs come in around 2:30 — the vocals seem a bit more aggressive as well. There are several tempo changes and creative song structures through out this opening song. The track ends with a long period of soft guitar and ambient noise.

Eternal Kingdom
The title track starts off with some memorable guitar work and catchy rhythm. It’s got a sound reminiscent of something I’ve heard in the past (perhaps Willhaven or Deftones), but can’t quite put my finger on it. The vocals come in just before the end of the first minute as the slow tempo continues. I like the shift in sound as a more melodic/melancholy guitar tone comes in. That tone is quickly swallowed by beefy riffs and heavy drum work at the 2:25 mark.

Ghost Trail
“Ghost Trail” starts off with some light guitar and drumming that lasts till about the 1:45 mark before the guitars get a bit heavier and the crusty vocals come in. A very soulful lead hits hard at the 3:30 mark. It’s filled with plenty of emotion. This is a pretty powerful track. The track acts as though it’s about to fade out softly, but Cult of Luna have another idea in mind and explode at the 9:27 mark with crushing riffs and heavy drums. Layered vocals give the track some nice depth, as well.

The Lure (Interlude)
This soft sounding track incorporates some trumpet into the fold. It has a soothing, yet somewhat disturbing presence.

Mire Deep
Some interesting noise accompanies a steady drum beat for the first 20 second or so before thick bass and guitar come in. Several tempo changes and increases in sludge keep this one from getting stagnate as the group pummels there way through just over five minutes of crunchy riffs and ambient interludes.

The Great Migration
A few drum stick hits to get the timing right and the band opens up with thick, slow moving riffs pulled from the deepest depths of some southern bog. A big scream and steady chugging series of riffs come in at the 1:40 mark. There’s some creative guitar and drum combo work to look out for at 2:20. This one ends with harsh tones and discordant guitars.

“Osterbotten” is another instrumental, but with a much more electronic sound. There’s plenty of industrial noise permeating the air on this one.

Thick, textured rhythms and light guitar work start off “Curse.” There’s also an electric din covering this one as the song progresses. As the vocals come in at the two minute mark, so do some of the more powerful and rich tones on the album. Beefy riffs trudge their way through your skull as heavy drums and some textured noise rage along with them. There’s a nice chaotic moment around the three minute mark that lasts a good bit and just adds more fuel to the fire on this one.

Light, disharmonic guitar work introduces some ambient notes that echo through your speakers. This one is a short (2:44 in length) and eerie piece of guitar noise.

Following Betulas
The final track starts off with thicker than hell bass and memorable guitars as the vocals come in. There are some incredible layers and textures going on throughout this song that gives it an amazing depth. What a hell of a way to end an impressive album

~ ~ ~

Prior to this release, I had only heard a handful of minutes from the band’s previous efforts. I’m glad I finally got around to properly enjoying this latest album as it’s one of the finer examples of sludge metal mastery. Thick rhythms, melodic and soulful interludes along with bruising riffs make Eternal Kingdom an experience that simply cannot be missed.

Favorite Tracks:
All of them

Additional Notes: