by Trevor Portz
Staff Writer –
After vowing not to make any more albums due the sad state of the music biz, public demand and the need for attention seem to have convinced Ian Astbury and Billy Duffy that “Capsules” aren’t necessarily the only way to continue recording. The result of that mind change is Choice of Weapon, their first full album since 2007’s less-than-spectacular Born Into This. Touching on just about all of the styles dabbled in by the band in the past—from the post-punk power of Love to the earthy hippiness of the Cult— Choice of Weapon is definitely a return to form.
Opener “Honey From a Knife” kicks things off in fine fashion, with a surprisingly not cheesy chant of “we got the drugs, we got the drugs.” This is followed by “Elemental Light,” which—lyrically and musically–would have been very comfortable on the oft-overlooked self-titled album from 1994. While that album was somewhat polarizing for long-time fans, smaller doses of its style work well amongst harder rockers.
“The Wolf” and “Amnesia” both return to the style of the classic, unmetallized Cult, with main riffs sounding like castoffs from the Love and Peace sessions. In fact, it would appear Duffy even pulled out some classic gear here, with the lead tone boasting the same echo-laden reverb that dominated “She Sells Sanctuary” and the pre-Electric version of “Love Removal Machine.”
Astbury’s voice isn’t quite as smooth as it was in his heyday, but has still held up exceptionally well, never losing its Gothic, shaman-like tone. Strangely, the more time that goes on, the more it seems Astbury and fellow crooner Glenn Danzig’s voices become increasingly similar. The appropriately titled “Lucifer” is a great example of this, as it feels very much like an outtake from Danzig’s Deth Red Sabaoth. It would be interesting to hear the two work together in some form, assuming ego and politics didn’t get in the way.
Included on some versions of the album are the four studio tracks previously released on Capsules 1 and 2. While “Every Man and Woman Is a Star” is only decent, “Embers” is a dark, haunting piece that sits well alongside earlier epics like “Black Angel” and “White.” If anything, it’s great to include the tracks for those that missed out on the quickly sold out (and impossible to find on ebay) Capsules.
While it may not be as stellar as the criminally underrated Dreamtime, or as commercially appealing as Sonic Temple, Choice of Weapon does show that the Astbury/Duffy well has far from run dry. Who knows, maybe this will be the last full Cult album, and the band will return to releasing bits and bops as they feel like it. If that’s the case, at least fans can look back and be satisfied that the final Cult album was a fitting crown on a long career of great albums. Or maybe it’s the signal that rock fans still care about full-length releases, and not just three-minute digital nuggets. Let’s hope for the latter.
Ian Astbury (v)
Billy Duffy (g)
Chris Wyse (b)
John Tempesta (d)
1. Honey From a Knife
2. Elemental Light
3. For the Animals
5. The Wolf
8. Wilderness Now
9. A Pale Horse
10. This Night in the City Forever
11. Every Man and Woman Is a Star
13. Until the Light Takes Us
Label: Cooking Vinyl Records
Hardrock Haven rating: 9.1/10