Words and photographs – Graeme Wright
I was late to the party as far as Cult Of Luna are concerned. Formed in 1998 in Umeå, Sweden they are probably best described as post-metal with more than a touch of Doom and Sludge about them. They are the heaviest band I’ve seen live this year and it’s pleasing to see that this venue has a decent turnout considering that there are a number of big shows on in Manchester tonight. The band enter the stage to ‘Beyond II’ and the whole set is bathed in primary coloured lights, while a mist permanently encompasses the band for the entire duration of their 90-minute set. At times I feel like I’m on the set of John Carpenters The Fog and it adds a hugely atmospheric bent to the evening proceedings.
We are straight into my favourite Cult Of Luna song, ‘Cold Burn’ and this song as much as any is indicative of this band’s style. A fog horn-style opening leads into nearly ten minutes of doom-laden yet still melodic music, with harsh vocals and a key riff that is as good as anything Black Sabbath has ever produced. You can’t see the band’s faces due to the mist but somehow they manage to be both emotive and expressive at all times during the show. ‘Nightwalkers’ is another huge slab of powerful music and even with the impenetrable vocal stylings everybody in here knows all the words to the song and is grooving and banging their heads to the middle section which thunders along like a freight train.
There is no banter between songs as is the norm for this kind of band. Shows like this tend to be more of a shared heavy music experience between artist and audience and tonight is no exception. ‘The Silver Arc’ is up next and has a slightly lighter touch than the rest of the set. Slower-paced, grinding music that for me is the perfect wind down late in the evening after a tough day. Superbly performed, perfectly executed this is a prime example of the genre. ‘I: The Weapon’ shakes things up and is insanely powerful and heavy, with an almost unnerving synth-based backdrop perfectly in tune with the pounding drum performance. ‘Lights On The Hill’ is a crowd favourite. It’s a fifteen-minute beast of a song that could almost be the soundtrack to a Silent Hill video game and never outstays its welcome despite its epic length. This is prime stoner music and is delivered to a highly appreciative crowd this evening.
‘Finland’ is another personal favourite. A Sabbath-style bass line opening that leads into a surprisingly melodic main break that gets angrier and more plaintive as the song progresses. Brilliantly performed on the night this is aural perfection for me. ‘Beyond I’ is another haunting interlude track with the only example of regular vocals during the entire set, while ‘In Awe Of’ is yet another demonstration of the almost inaccessible yet still melodic and heavy music that this band excels in. The band closed out with their biggest song ‘Blood Upon Stone’. This has always been an immensely powerful track that just builds and builds across its ten-minute length to a huge climax. Such a great song and such a great band, I loved every minute of this show tonight. This type of music isn’t for everyone but if you lean towards the heavier side of things I can’t recommend Cult Of Luna highly enough. They are still touring Europe so get out and see them if you can. I’ll certainly be there next time they return to these shores.
Magnus Líndberg – Percussion, Guitar
Johannes Persson – Guitars, Vocals
Andreas Johansson – Bass
Thomas Hedlund – Drums
Fredrik Kihlberg – Guitar, Vocals
Kristian Karlsson – Keyboards, Electronics, Vocals
- Beyond II
- Cold Burn
- The Silver Arc
- I: The Weapon
- Lights On The Hill
- Beyond I
- In Awe Of
- Blood Upon Stone