Released: 2012, Cooking Vinyl
Let’s go ahead and get the payoff out of the way right now. CHOICE OF WEAPON is the best Cult album since SONIC TEMPLE, or perhaps CEREMONY, which was an album with admitted filler but some great tunes. There, I said it. That means that this is the best Cult album in over 20 years. That does not take away from the many fine moments on BORN INTO THIS and BEYOND GOOD AND EVIL. However those albums suffered some unmistakable flaws, namely the down tuned nu metal influence of BGAE and the weak guitar tone and a few tracks of filler on BORN INTO THIS. Surprisingly, and almost certainly part of the strength of the new album is that the same lineup is intact from the previous album, an unheard of feat with this band that has in the past sported only Astbury and Duffy as the constants. The rhythm section is confident, laying a solid foundation for these outstanding tunes
The first three tracks are attention grabbing rockers, particularly the lead track “Honey From A Knife” that has an ELECTRIC influenced gritty rock opening riff with a more melodic SONIC TEMPLE bridge and chorus. Astbury is easily Duffy’s equal, employing an infectious and memorable vocal that is a bit deeper and smoother than in his earlier days. “Elemental Light” follows and offers a gothic opening before the harmonized payoff riffs that could have fit on LOVE or SONIC TEMPLE. Duffy’s influences and inspirations are evident on this album with “The Wolf" being the showcase track. Here, Duffy combines a slight rework of his “She Sells Sanctuary” riff and combines it with what is essentially Zeppelin’s “Out on The Tiles Riff”. The result is a damn fine marriage and a great tune that concludes a hell of a rocking block of tunes. After such an inspirational commitment to full blown rocking, the ballad “Love >Death” is welcomed and looked for, a great place to hear how Astbury has turned his aging voice and declining range into an asset that is mature and deeper, a perfect style that his younger approach would not have worked as well on with this tune. Ian Astbury’s lyrics continue to approach deeper meanings on themes of life, death, his personal life, and mysticism. After seeing him and Billy Duffy on “That Metal Show” recently, they both came across very convincingly that they thought this was a good album. They were right.
Essentially, every track on here is worthy. There is no filler on this album, which makes 2012 a great year to be an aging metal fan as Van Halen and now The Cult have proven that age has nothing to do with making a great record. Obviously the UK agrees, as the album rose to #1 on the UK Rock Chart three days ago (for once a chart actually portraying a worthy album!). Credit The Cult with adjusting the music to fit Astbury’s vocal capabilities and managing to incorporate elements of ELECTRIC and LOVE with some nods to SONIC TEMPLE without sounding exactly like any of them. The deluxe edition of this album contains a bonus disc with the four tracks from the 2010 CAPTURE EP. Fans pining for the glory days, this is the album for you, but be assured any fan that appreciates solid hard rock and metal with styles ranging from Goth and metal, to Zeppelin will enjoy this as well. With still many months to go, do not be surprised if this is a candidate for album of the year when all is said and done.