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Cult Of Luna’s The Raging River: post-metal catharsis and a surprise guest on heavyweight new EP

Cult Of Luna rope in grunge icon Mark Lanegan on album-sized EP The Raging River

Cult Of Luna - The Raging River album cover
(Image: © Red Creek)

Swedish latter-day legends Cult Of Luna are furthering their legacy with the establishment of their own label, Red Creek – an empowering move that also offers the opportunity to support likeminded creative souls. The Raging River is the label’s first release, limited to a first run of 500 copies but with the promise of a second pressing to follow.

It’s an EP in name alone, its five tracks amounting to a runtime of 40 minutes – a full-length album for most. It’s described by the band as a ‘bridge’, moving forward from 2019’s A Dawn To Fear without fully being the ‘next step’. That record found the band reconnecting with each other and their roots after personal tragedies as they came together in the studio for a reinvigorating recording experience. That the touring cycle came to an abrupt, pandemic-induced halt is a frustration channelled through The Raging River in lieu of live collective catharsis.

Opener Three Bridges is nine minutes of musical peaks, troughs and electronically shimmering moments of repose, building to explosive moments with vocalist Johannes Persson at his most bellicose. So far, so very Cult Of Luna. What I Leave Behind elbows its predecessor out of the way with a swaggering riff, its stridence tinged with trepidation that builds to the EP’s crown jewel, Inside Of A Dream. It features the fractured baritone of former Screaming Trees frontman turned storied singer/songwriter Mark Lanegan, a major inspiration for the band, who described hearing his soulful, storyteller’s lilt in their music as “a dream come true”.

The track offers a compelling moment of repose amidst a collection that otherwise conforms to Cult Of Luna’s tumultuous formula, making The Raging River a treat for fans and an engaging, if largely unsurprising, addendum to A Dawn To Fear, but hopefully one that paves the way for further future innovation.