CHOICE OF WEAPON by The Cult (2012)
It has taken far too long for me to review this album. The reason being is I am lazy, easily distracted and … what was I going to say there?
Anyway, The Cult’s latest album Choice of Weapon is, as the Americans would say, epic. Since the band reformed in 2005 and got seriously back into things, culminating with the release of Beyond Good and Evil, they have grown exponentially as a unit. The unit going beyond the love/hate relationship of Astbury and Duffy and bringing us the thumping rhythm section that is John Tempesta and Chris Wyse.
Choice of Weapon – like its predecessor Born Into This – is produced by Masters of Reality legend Chris Goss. The consistent line-up is now on its third album and whilst Astbury still likes to mention Indians and wolves – ‘cos he can – it is the music and sheer energy that is keeping The Cult’s output fresh and new.
The album opens up with the quite raucous Honey from a Knife – and Wyse’s harmonies and fillers compliment Astbury’s story-telling lyrics which tell of a really tough night out. But it sounds like it was a good one.
Like Born Into This, Choice of Weapon is not an album of repeat-rinse-and-wash songs. The tempo ebbs and flows like an experienced marathon runner biding his time and then attacking. Thus songs like Elemental Light and Life > Death afford Astbury the chance to remind us that he can in fact sing; it should be said though that if he gets any deeper he will be sitting next to the devil all the same. The closer - This Night in the City Forever - is reminiscent of Saints Are Down from the band’s 1994 eponymous album.
But, as is always the case with The Cult, when the tempo is upped the tunes, well, rock. The lead track For the Animals is simply quintessential Cult. Crackin’ riff, bit silly lyrics and Billy Duffy’s understated brilliance on the guitar combining to leave us mouth agape and foot tapping away, it is just fucking magic.
A Pale Horse and The Wolf combine to give equine and canine inspired tunes that are layered with blistering guitar work that is carried on the shoulders of the outstanding drum and bass combo mentioned before.
The standout track for me, though, is Amensia; laden as it is with tempo changes, a guitar sound that if bottled would outsell Coke (both kinds) and Grohl-esque frenetic drumming. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. And again. One more time.
Choice of Weapon is a fantastic album and another worthwhile addition to The Cult canon (haven’t they all been if we ignore Ceremony ever existed..?) and has me looking ahead to their appearance at the Barrowlands in September with great excitement. I am already in training, jumping a thousand times on the spot for a night of pogoing.
James A. Stewart