It wasn't so long ago that The Cult were dismissed as dead in the water. Created in Britain in 1983 on the heels of the post-punk movement, the band had split up in 1995, bailing out of a South American tour and citing unspecified reasons for the breakup (read: alcohol abuse and hateful riffs between members). After reforming in 1999, in 2002 they announced themselves again "on ice" indefinitely and by 2008 the band was an unsigned outfit. It seemed The Cult were destined for a minor entry in a hard rock bands of the '90s Google search.
So it is a bit of a surprise that their new and ninth album, Choice of Weapon is a class act brimming with confident musicianship, luscious but never too rough metal, and crisp "She Sells Sanctuary"-ish guitar riffs. Original members, front man Ian Astbury, whose distinctive wailing voice has settled pleasantly into a rich deeper register, and guitarist Billy Duffy, an ace at memorable guitar passages, have created an album rich in Metallica atmosphere that boasts a topical integrity that addresses the current state of our information overloaded society by confronting political oppression.
In the Gothic draped, David Bowie-sounding "Life > Death", and indeed throughout the album, the defensive choice of weapon used to ward against the godzillas of the corporate world—all money threatens rock and roll don't you know?—is a personal belief system that can alter the political landscape. In lyricist Astbury's view, that belief system is a devoted fascination with indigenous culture and animal mysticism, as seen on the cover of the CD which pictures an ancient shaman masked as a Middle Eastern rebel. Astbury sings to the powers that be as if wailing vengeful sentiment to the wind: "You can't destroy them/The beauty and the youth/You'll never beat them/You'll never hide the truth".