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Album Review
Choice of Weapn

Choice of Weapn
by The Cult

Cooking Vinyl Records

Review Date
25th July 2012
Reviewed by
Ricardo Kerr

If you have only heard their enduring 1985 hit single 'She Sells Sanctuary' it might come as a surprise that The Cult have been around, on and off, for nearly 30 years and have released nine studio albums. Those more familiar with them will know that The Cult are still riding the wave of re-invigoration they have been enjoying since their injection of new blood in 2006. That new blood came in the form of bass player Chris Wyse (Ozzy Osbourne) and drummer John Tempesta (Helmet, White Zombie). Much like their 80s contemporaries Guns'N'Roses however, The Cult are practically a two-man game. Many may have had their hands in the pot and left their fingerprints on the discography but singer Ian Astbury and guitarist Billy Duffy are the true owners of the moniker. While Born Into This might have been their most engaging record in years it suffered from an identity crisis. Producer Youth (The Orb, Killing Joke) made the unusual choice in blunting Duffy's feral guitar oeuvres and pushing them deeper in the mix. The Cult might be getting on (Astbury and Duffy are anyway) but they are some of rock'n'roll's greatest survivors and they are all geared up to prove it with Choice Of Weapon.

This time around along with the ubiquitous Bob Rock, production duties are handled by Masters Of Reality's Chris “godfather of desert rock” Goss. As well as his own band's storied career, Goss has lent his talents to an amazing pantheon of rockers including Queens of the Stone Age, Stone Temple Pilots, Kyuss, and Screaming Trees. These two men know how to make rock'n'roll sound big, powerful, even playful and it starts right away with 'Honey From A Knife'. The album's very first song is a fun affair that can actually pull of a chorus as daft as “we got the drugs” being chanted cheerleader-style ad infinitum. As we have come to expect, when these crafty veterans a firing on all cylinders, stand back!'Life > Death', aside from having a blatant truism for a title, has the sound of an older, world-weary Queen and the ominous 'Lucifer' has all the ungodly swagger of a lost Black Sabbath classic. But underneath all the stadium-sized bravado there is a tender, wounded soul at the heart of The Cult. You can find it in Astbury's time-worn croon on the vulnerable 'Elemental Light', easily one of their best songs in decades. Album closer 'This Night In The City Forever' is a majestic kiss-off that would not be out of place in their canon if they collectively decided to hang up their bandanas and call it a day.

Maybe this shift in energy is fueled by behind-the-scenes politics. Between Choice of Weapon and Born Into This the band were dropped from Roadrunner Records. Their new appointment with Cooking Vinyl lets them breathe a little easier and allows them to stake their claim at rock god status once again unfettered by label interference despite the big names behind the mixing desk. As we have come to expect from resurgent rockers all of the good intentions in the world cannot save a lacklustre or deficient concept, and as with pretty much every Cult album there are some definite low-points. 'The Wolf' sounds like a lukewarm Velvet Revolver outtake (one that was left on the cutting room floor for good reason) and 'Amnesia' barely leaves an impression. All this means is that you have to learn to take the good with the bad, something which should have been a mantra for fans of The Cult since the early 90s anyway.


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