With the exception of two previously unreleased new songs, "In the Clouds" and "Beauty's on the Street," plus a couple of tweaks here and there, High Octane Cult is virtually identical to the previously import-only collection, Pure Cult, (released in 1993 and re-released stateside in 2000 with a slightly altered track listing). The only difference being that H.O.C. is released directly by Warner Bros. affiliate Sire and Pure Cult is available on the band's European label, Beggars Banquet. Even though the Cult make a valid argument for being one of the most artistically, self-defeatist bands in music history, whereby, they continuously confused and alienated their audience by changing direction, one certainly can't argue with the wealth of primo material here on display. Like all good greatest-hits or best-of collections, taken as a thread, these songs still sound great. Tracks like the magical "Revolution," "She Sells Sanctuary," "Fire Woman," and especially "Rain" are, quite simply, magnificent. Even when the band veers into techno waters on the Rick Rubin-produced "The Witch" (later revisited on Ian Astbury's solo record Spirit/Light/Speed), the band comes through on the sheer strength of Astbury's great voice. Other FM monsters like "Edie (Ciao Baby)" and "Love Removal Machine" couldn't be more different from one another, and yet each works as a singular entity. Anthems like "Sweet Soul Sister" and early single "Resurrection Joe," again, make extraordinary arguments for the band's maturing process. Lastly, it's a shame that Warner Bros. didn't spend more time repackaging this release. Some additional photos and perhaps better liner notes would have been a nice selling point.
AllMusic Review by John Franck