The two-year gap between the release of Sonic Temple and 1991's Ceremony saw the Cult become victims of their own success. With Temple, the band had finally achieved the mass commercial acceptance that they had pined after for so long. Touring U.S. arenas (as headliners) and as Metallica's special guests, the Cult had officially "arrived." With Billy Duffy having assumed the musical direction of Sonic Temple, it was clear from the get-go that Ceremony would be Astbury's baby. Now reduced to a duo, Duffy and Astbury had their work cut out for them. The ensuing sessions that would make up the bulk of Ceremony would turn out to be a sonic triumph (the record sounds as if were recorded yesterday), and at the same time, a creative, blithering mess. Things start off promisingly with the record's title track, which is quickly followed by a classic Cult single, "Wild Hearted Son." Unfortunately, what follows the stomp and chant of "Earth Mofo" are eight of the most contrived, lyrically mundane songs that the Cult ever released. Although noble in his intentions, Asbury's ongoing fascination with the plight of the Native American Indian accounts for the majority of the lyrical content of Ceremony. Another promising ballad-turn-rocker, "If" quickly evaporates into nowhere land as the song's main guitar riff sounds like a slower, recycled version of every bad generic AC/DC L.A. hair band. Sadly, as the ensuing tour rolled across the U.S., it was obvious that the Cult had lost their edge (they were upstaged nightly by a young, hungry artist named Lenny Kravitz). In the three years that would follow, Astbury would get clean, shave his head, and rekindle his desire to make records.
AllMusic Review by John Franck