Sound: The Cult are one of those bands that inspire such devotion that their fanbase may as well be a cult, and "Choice Of Weapon" will certainly please those fans. They have a musical vision that seems unique and special, and they've tried to put that across on previous albums, though albums like "Born Into This", "Beyond Good And Evil" and "The Cult" seem to have under-delivered this vision in their eyes, and in their fans eyes too.
So what have Ian Astbury and Billy Duffy got in store for us this time? Well, in terms of style, this is as raw rock n roll as they've been since "Electric", tinged with the gothic mysticism of their classic "Love" album. Billy Duffy's guitar playing on this record is dirty and raw and, as ever, pretty diverse. He knows how to write a rockin' riff and he has a very rare quality that the majority of other rock guitarists don't, and that is quality control. He knows when to end a solo and he knows when to pull back. He's a guitarist who can come across as being heavy without just turning up the distortion and his guitar playing is very rarely masturbatory. Songs like "Honey From A Knife", "A Pale Horse" and "The Wolf" show Billy Duffy to be on top of his game and it is very impressive. There is a perfect balance between hard and soft, which is good as there wasn't such equilibrium on the last 2 Cult albums, but everything about this album is raw in a way I haven't seen since Foo Fighter released "Wasting Light" last year. Also the current Cult line-up has been going strong for a good few years so everything sounds tight and there is evidently strong musical chemistry. // 8
Lyrics: Lyrically The Cult are a good band to listen to, though there are deeper levels for those who care to delve that little bit further. Ian Astbury lyrically explores many themes of life, death, love, belief, mysticism, shamanism and also a lot about his past and his life experiences. "Honey From A Knife" was written about Astbury running through the streets of New York with his arm cut open from a knife wound (if my memory serves me correctly). Astbury matches lyrical themes to the music perfectly on this record. His words provoke thought but do not demand it. It makes this record appealing to casual listeners and hardcore fans alike.
And singing skill? I shouldn't have to tell you that Ian Astbury is an amazing vocalist and frontman. He's proved all that already. But what's nice to notice about his voice on this record is how it has matured with age and settles nicely into Billy's guitar riffs, as has always been the magic between these two musicians. And, of course, no studio trickery with Ian's voice. What you hear is what he sang, and boy his voice is freakin' powerful! // 10
Overall Impression: Ok, I'm going to say it... This is the best Cult album in at least 21 years. If you don't like "Ceremony" then 23 years. If you don't like "Sonic Temple" then 25 years. This album is a return to the sounds of "Love" and "Electric". All the metal has been driven off with a pitchfork and it's about time. Sure, The Cult got high levels of success in the 80's for albums like "Sonic Temple" but that wasn't the true Cult. As Astbury says, "Love" was the closest The Cult got to achieving it's musical potential and after that they became less true to themselves. I can safely say this is a return to form.
All the songs have impressive sounds, but my personal favourites would be album opener "Honey From A Knife", "The Wolf", lead single "For The Animals", "Lucifer" and "A Pale Horse". They all sound like raw rock n roll and it's about time a band made an album like this. It does seem quite fitting that it would be the Cult.
The funny thing is, this album is released at the same time as Slash's "Apocalyptic Love". Comparing "Choice Of Weapon" with Slash's recent effort is quite interesting. Mainly because you can listen to Slash and think it was great but you knew he'd do that. Duffy's playing is arguably more diverse, as it has been over his career, and "Choice Of Weapon" is quite the shocker, especially coming from a band who were written off by most people many years ago.
This album won't sell like "Apocalyptic Love", but that goes for most Cult albums. It won't stop me singing the praises of "Choice Of Weapon" though, because this is a band pushing their boundaries while an American dude in a top hat solos happily in his comfort zone. This album is a must for Cult fans and is a must for people who walked away from The Cult for losing their magic. Because it's back. Oh hell, it's back! // 9