Release Date: Feb 12, 2016
Record label: Cooking Vinyl
Now in their 33rd year, the Cult went through several metamorphoses in their first five years, as they hurtled from Love’s psychedelic goth to Electric’s Rick Rubin-produced hard rock. The reinventions aren’t as dramatic now, but they’re still not standing still. Their 10th album darts from brooding postpunk to old-fashioned heavy metal and back again.
As the market for nostalgia shows no sign of abating any time soon, The Cult could be forgiven for throwing their lot in with the rest of their peers. After all, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em, right? Well no, not exactly. See, despite being active on and off for the best part of 33 years, their creative flame still burns brightly if tenth studio album Hidden City is anything to go by.
The Cult have been many things over the last three decades; consistent isn't one of them. Hidden City, the band's tenth studio album -- and fifth with producer Bob Rock -- is the final installment in their loose-knit "spiritual" trilogy that began with 2007's Born into This and continued on 2012's inspired Choice of Weapon. This set touches on almost every period in their history.
The Cult were great between 1983 and ’91, before grunge effectively handed them their P45s, since then they’ve continually attempted to recapture that early magic. They haven’t succeeded, partly because singer Ian Astbury no longer has the full-throated roar of yore. Fortunately, his guitar sparring partner Billy Duffy isn’t slowing down any, with the ace, full-fat riffs that made their 80s output so great fully present and correct.
Spirituality in the face of chaos informs the 10th studio set from Brit-rock institution. Towards the end of The Cult’s set at the Coachella festival in 2014, Ian Astbury began singing, ‘We built this motherfucking city,’ repeatedly over the iconic intro riff to She Sells Sanctuary. This spontaneous refrain was The Cult frontman’s oblique way of reminding the assembled hipsters that not only had he helped reignite the cross-genre US music festival – his 1990 A Gathering Of The Tribes festival inspiring Perry Farrell’s Lollapalooza concept – but that, thanks to the success of 1985’s Love album, his band were one of the key players in the birth of the ‘Alternative Nation’.
The Cult was perfect for the Eighties: loud, garish, over the top. Now, the band struggles to find equilibrium between maturity and fan expectations. Hidden City, the UK-to-L.A. ensemble's 10th LP, comes close. Minus a need to shout, the quintet channels its energy into textures that simmer instead ….