Where to start with… Cult Of Luna

Cult Of Luna
(Image credit: Silvia Gray)

Cult Of Luna are the face of modern post-metal. Although the genre was pioneered by Neurosis and Godflesh in the early ‘90s, the Swedish six-piece – whose line-up includes three guitarists and two drummers – have eclipsed their forebears’ popularity. All eight of their albums are considered standouts in one shape or form, making it difficult for newcomers to find an entry point. But if you are new to them, here’s how to navigate their sometimes intimidating back catalogue.

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The classic: Somewhere Along The Highway (2006)


Cult Of Luna rarely plumb the depths of their back-catalogue live, mostly favouring songs from after 2008’s Eternal Kingdom. However, two oldies they frequently bust out are Finland and Dark City Dead Man. The pair are highlights from 2006’s Somewhere Along The Highway, a record that many fans consider the band’s best. A concept album about male loneliness that’s dark, raw and grinding even in its softer moments, it set the blueprint for the band’s current soundscape and deserves its acclaimed status.

The connoisseurs’ choice: Vertikal/Vertikal II (2013)


Vertikal is Cult Of Luna’s least accessible album. It features their longest-ever song in the 19-minute Vicarious Redemption, integrates noise and industrial music, and needs to be paired with companion EP Vertikal II for the complete, 100-plus minute experience. However, those willing will be lured into a captivatingly alien adventure, inspired by claustrophobic cityscapes and sci-fi classics like Metropolis. If you have the time, switch it on and drift away.

The lost treasure: Salvation (2004)


After their derivative, metalcore-inspired  debut and Neurosis-like follow-up The Beyond (2003), Salvation was Cult Of Luna’s first true masterpiece. It maintained their sludge backbone but added more overt post-rock tendencies, resulting in delicate segues on such tracks as White Cell and Vague Illusions. The band would improve at marrying their loudest and softest moments on later albums, but lethal crescendos on the likes of Leave Me Here still make this an early gem.

The wild card: Mariner (2016)


After Vertikal thematically explored the tight urban setting, Cult Of Luna turned to the stars for Mariner. The Swedes enlisted the eccentric Julie Christmas for co-lead vocals, and her interplay with the low growls of Johannes Persson makes the album a wowing standout. Wreck Of S.S. Needle is Cult Of Luna’s catchiest track and Cygnus is a perfect climax, its tapping guitar riffs, synths and echoing singing feeling like a true ascension beyond space and time.

The one that started it all: Cult Of Luna (2001)


Like many eventual post-metal bands, Cult Of Luna began as hardcore kids, and remnants of that upbringing are tangible on their 2001 debut. The likes of Hollow and The Sacrifice are practically breakneck compared to the groove-driven Luna of today, although the epic songwriting and sludge overtones we hear now are very much present. It’s not the game-changing brilliance of their band would later create, but it’s a strong debut from the dying days of the rawer metalcore style’s first wave.

Matt Mills
Contributing Editor, Metal Hammer

Louder’s resident Gojira obsessive was still at uni when he joined the team in 2017. Since then, Matt’s become a regular in Prog and Metal Hammer, at his happiest when interviewing the most forward-thinking artists heavy music can muster. He’s got bylines in The Guardian, The Telegraph, NME, Guitar and many others, too. When he’s not writing, you’ll probably find him skydiving, scuba diving or coasteering.