Where to even begin? I feel ready to simply gush all over this text, both figuratively and literally. I'll try to restrain myself though. Cult of Luna is a Swedish progressive/post-metal/sludge band that has been making waves for some time with several studio albums already under their belts. Julie Christmas is a bad-ass woman known largely for her solo album The Bad Wife along with a number of collaborations with artists all over the spectrum. I was sadly not familiar with her until the most recent release from Spylacopa, but damn did she make an impression with clearly the best song on the EP. And now these somewhat disparate projects have collided to create what will certainly be called by many to be one of the best albums of 2016.
Again, this is difficult to put into words without it becoming a disjointed mess of praise and adoration. I guess I'll start with the music. The guitars waver between various moods of post-metal, from the dark and doomy to the serene and spacey. They really tease you on the opening track, "A Greater Call," taking their time to slowly light the fuse. But when it erupts we get an ever growing avalanche of sludge. Groovy riffs break through the more hypnotic elements creating the perfect tightrope of light and heavy.
And through it all, my apologies to Cult of Luna, Ms. Christmas steals the goddam show. From her meticulous choices of melody dripping from her sultry tone to the explosions of screaming fury, She is the driving force behind almost every minute. I'm banging my head to these crushing riffs, but 90% of my attention is following every rise and fall of her voice. What's more, her particular directions of notes are often unpredictable. I am no music major, but I'm sure someone more astute on these matters could explain what makes her particular songwriting approach unique.
In a few words, Mariner is a captivating and potent album. The first three songs will take you on a journey that is both ethereal and baleful at the same time. That's not to say that this whole album isn't worth its entire weight, but the first half alone should warrant the purchase. I'm already scanning the web for the most affordable copy of the gorgeous digibook version. Every aspect of the album seems to perfectly compliment its counterparts. It's something you simply need to hear for yourself to understand. Check out two of the best tracks below.