Cult of Luna

Eternal Kingdom

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When Sweden's Cult of Luna moved into a new rehearsal space on the site of a converted mental institution, they stumbled upon an unexpected source of inspiration for their fifth album, Eternal Kingdom. There, amongst the long-abandoned madhouse's detritus, lay a diary kept by a former inmate who had rationalized drowning his wife by concocting an entire imaginary world and cast of characters responsible for the heinous crime -- anyone but him, in other words. The title of this diary was -- you guessed it -- "Tales of the Eternal Kingdom," and its contents provided the perfect jumping-off-point for Cult of Luna to wrap their always inventive post-metal songwriting around a gothic fairy tale right out of the Brothers Grimm. Although this perception is encouraged as much by the album's beautifully rendered artwork as its far from obvious lyrics, which are typically frugal in relation to the group's vast instrumental passages, and vague enough to let each listener's own imagination interpret and populate this fantastical universe as extensively as they please. On the subject of the music itself, Eternal Kingdom sees Cult of Luna generally working with the darker shades of their broad palette: combining remarkably heavy and foreboding riffs with agoraphobic expanses of near-silence on striking numbers like "The Great Migration," spectacular opener "Owlwood," and hypnotic colossus "Ghost Trail," while abandoning all clean singing throughout in exchange for raw, tortured hardcore vocals. At the same time, the band's concerted effort to break out of their habitually epic songwriting mindset (see more conventionally sized nuggets like "Mire Deep" and the title track), along with the incorporation of atypical electronic sounds ("Österbotten") and horns (see interlude, "The Lure," and album capper, "Following Betulas"), make a good case for this album as the band's most unique yet. This assertion is definitely debatable given Cult of Luna's consistently groundbreaking career, but what certainly isn't in question is Eternal Kingdom's tantalizing allure, as a result of its singular concept and the band's often breathtaking execution thereof.

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