Album of the Week 28-2012: The Cult – Choice Of Weapon

As much as one would like to punish The Cult for their weird antics, odd business decisions and not being sure when they were active and when not, fact is that their music remains of consistent high quality. ‘Choice Of Weapon’ is no different. In fact, it may be one of the best releases by the Brits (although the entire rhythm section of Chris Wyse and master groover John Tempesta is American). It combines all the better elements of The Cult’s entire discography into one rocking package.

Not as soaked in Gothrock production as ‘Love’, not as sparse as ‘Electric’, not as decadent as ‘Sonic Temple’ and not as overtly Metallic as ‘Beyond Good And Evil’, ‘Choice Of Weapon’ finds The Cult rocking carelessly, without wasting any effort wondering if what they’re doing is en vogue or shaped well enough for any radio format. The result of that is an album with a great deal of variation, but which never loses focus.

This way, it’s obvious that it’s the same band playing the entire album, regardless of if it’s a rocking song, like opening track ‘Honey From A Knife’ or practical ‘Fire Woman’-rewrite ‘The Wolf’, or a more ethereal track, like the breathtaking ‘Elemental Light’ or the subdued darkness of the fantastic closing track ‘This Night In The City Forever’. Part of that is that all the known elements are still there: Ian Astbury’s rutting wail is still strongly intact, Billy Duffy’s guitar sound is as big and beefy as anything in the eighties and the rhythms are still surprisingly dancable for a Rock band. And isn’t that what made a Cult-record a delight anyway?

Production-wise, this is possibly the best album by Astbury and Duffy yet. As much as I appreciate Youth as a producer, the work Chris Goss and Bob Rock have done for the sound of ‘Choice Of Weapon’ gives us the powerful punch that ‘Born Into This’ was lacking. You can feel the power of the guitars and drums and there’s a certain clarity over the album that makes it a pleasure to listen to. Plus, the album is spared of Bob Rock’s tendency to get the vocals way too loud in the mix. Just great.

In short, ‘Choice Of Weapon’ is possibly the best collection of songs The Cult has put out so far, or at least a worthy contender for the “holy trinity” of ‘Love’, ‘Electric’ and ‘Sonic Temple’. I actually think this one makes up for the consistency issues the latter two have. ‘Choice Of Weapon’ shows The Cult doing what they do best: channel their energy into a bunch of concise, powerful and catchy Rock tunes. Some a bit more Doorsy some a bit more Stonesy. And both directions work well. So why not check out the album? And while you’re doing that, be sure to get the deluxe edition, which includes the two fine ‘Capsule’ EPs on a bonus disc.

Recommended tracks: ‘Elemental Light’, ‘This Night In The City Forever’, ‘Wilderness Now’, ‘Honey From A Knife’

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