Acclaimed and prolific Umeå, Sweden-based post-metal outfit Cult of Luna — currently, Johannes Persson (guitar, vocals), Andreas Johansson (bass), Thomas Hedlund (drums, percussion), Fredrik Kihlberg (guitar, vocals), Krisitian Karlsson (keys, vocals) and Magus Lindberg (production) — formed back in 1998 and can trace their origins to the breakup of a local hardcore punk band by the name of Eclipse. The Swedish band’s first two albums — 2001’s self titled debut and 2003’s The Beyond — slowly gained attention in underground circles and among the press.
Beginning with their breakthrough, third album 2004’s Salvation, the members of Cult of Luna, released a string of critically applauded albums that included 2006’s Somewhere Along The Highway, 2008’s Eternal Kingdom and 2013’s Vertikal. The band capped off a busy year, which included extensive European touring and the release of the Vertikal II EP, a companion effort that featured three songs recorded during the Vertikal sessions and dropped from the album and a remix of album single “Vicarious Redemption” by Justin Broadrick.
Shortly after the release of the Vertikal II EP, the band went on hiatus. Although they didn’t publicly announce it until 2016, during the recording sessions and tours to support Vertikal, the band went through two major lineup changes: The band’s original keyboardist Anders Teglund left the band during the Vertikal sessions and was replaced by the pg.lost’s Krisitian Karlsson. Founding member Erik Olofsson (guitar) left the band after their Beyond the Redshift Festival appearance in 2014. Olofsson was released by Kongh‘s David Johansson.
2016 saw the release of the Swedish post-metal outfit Mariner, an effort that found the band collaborating with Made Out of Babies‘ and Battle of Mice‘s Julie Christmas. While Vertikal thematically was city and industrial-based, Mariner, explored themes related to outer space and space travel.
Before the release of Mariner, the members of the Swedish post-metal outfit had begun writing material for what would be their eighth album. The end result was 2019’s critically applauded A Dawn to Fear an album that landed on Loudwires’ 50 Best metal albums of that year.
Over the course of their two decade run, Cult of Luna’s sound has moved from being heavily doom metal-influenced to a sound centered around lush orchestration — and more towards post-metal, progressive metal and even sludge metal. Sonically, they’re best known for crafting long. slow-burning songs featuring crushingly heavy and distorted guitar-driven sections, interspersed with with orchestral interludes and extended post-rock-like forays.
They’ve long eschewed conventional song structures, opting for a sound that tends to evolve throghout a song, sometimes towards a climatic crescendo, instead of say, a verse-chorus-verse pattern. And as a result, their work has been compared to Isis, Callisto, Pelican and even Neurosis.
Slated for a February 11, 2022 release through Metal Blade Records, Cult of Luna’s ninth album The Long Road North continues a run of material centered around shifting dynamics and sonic density — but perhaps even more so with The Long Road, an effort that featured guest spots from composer Colin Stetson, Pheonix‘s Christian Mazzalai and Laurent Brancowitz and Wildbirds And Peacedrums’ Mariam Wallentin. “It’s a big and cinematic sounding album,.” Cult of Luna’s Johannes Persson says in press notes. “I think one of the reasons why we have been able to be so productive the last couple of years is that we have been consistently writing from the heart. We have let our instincts guide us, and I think it’s getting clearer where we are heading.”
“The long road north is a long road home. A direction dictated by a call that penetrates rock and echoes through the forest,” Persson continues. “It flows over every lake, accelerated by the wind. When it reaches you, you know it’s time. Time to move forward. You don’t know where it will lead but you put the trust in it. With eyes raised towards the midnight sun it pulls you closer. The road is long and the end is uncertain.”
Clocking in at a little under seven minutes The Long Road‘s latest single “Into the Night” is a slow-burning and dreamy song that begins with a lengthy strummed, reverb-drenched guitar and vocal-based introduction before the addition of glistening keys that lead into an extended shoegazer-like section with swirling guitars and thunderous drumming before ending with howling feedback. The seemingly disparate yet hauntingly gorgeous parts are held together by Frederik Kihlberg’s plaintive yet sonorous baritone, which kind of sounds a bit like JOVM mainstay Mark Lanegan to me. But at it’s core is the yearning and desperate search for something — or someone — that’s been lost, perhaps forever.
“‘Into the Night’ is about the search for something or someone that’s been lost. It’s about being in the state between conscious and unconscious, awake and dreaming,” the band’s Frederik Kihlberg explains. “Seeing, hearing and experiencing things and not knowing if it’s real or imagination.”