Cult Of Luna and Julie Christmas – Mariner (Indie Recordings)

Genre: Post Metal

Cult of Luna have always been able to infuse their music with a sense of haunting beauty, like watching a stunning sun set on a dying planet. And by employing singer Julie Christmas on Mariner, they’ve taken this element one step further.

Christmas, who has fronted the likes of Battle of Mice and Made Out Of Babies, counterbalances the the band’s traditionally harsh vocals, adding greater depth to the Swedes’ mellower moments and increasing the tension generated by their heavier work.

The end results are sensational, with opener A Greater Call one of the finest moments in CoL’s 18-year career: after a gentle instrumental intro, the song explodes on the three minute mark, with Christmas and Johannes Persson complementing each other perfectly as the track crashes to its dramatic conclusion. It’s accessible too, even at more than eight minutes long.

Chevron is equally impressive, as Christmas’s singing style takes a darker, more acerbic tone: it’s followed by the industrial pulse of The Wreck of the S.S. Needle, a song gloriously reminiscent of CoL’s 2013’s masterpiece Vertikal, complete with marching riffs and hypnotic rhythms.

Closer Cygnus 1, meanwhile sees Mariner voyage further into progressive metal territory: a near 15 minute interstellar soundscape, the track is further evidence of the spark between Christmas and her new collaborators, and of their mutually adventurous approach.

Indeed, this is truly a marriage made in the heavens – let’s hope they renew their vows one day.

RUSHONROCK RATED: 9.5/10 Christmas Present