(This is Andy Synn‘s review of the new album by Sweden’s Cult of Luna, which will be released by Metal Blade Records on September 20th.)
It’s only natural for any fan to want a band’s new album to be the best thing they’ve ever done.
Partially it’s because we’ve all been conditioned to believe that if an artist’s newest release doesn’t sell more, get a higher score, increase their exposure, etc, that it’s somehow a failure, but there’s also the simple fact that, as fans, we want the bands we love to keep getting better, to keep impressing and surprising us and making us feel that electric frisson of excitement every time.
As a writer/reviewer you’ve got to be doubly careful about this. After all, if you start throwing around 10/10 scores every time a band’s newest release drops, what does it mean when their next one is even better? Do you pull a Nigel Tufnel and go up to eleven? And does every subsequent album get a higher and higher score?
I suppose that’s one benefit of not using numerical scores here at NCS. Our readers are forced to actively engage with what we write in order to find out what we really think about an album, rather than just lazily relying on context-less numbers that never give you the full picture.
So when I say, as a huge fan of this band, that their latest album ultimately falls a little short of the stupendously high bar set by both Vertikal and Mariner, you shouldn’t be disheartened. Because this is still Cult of Luna we’re talking about, and A Dawn to Fear remains a thrillingly heavy, emotionally resonant journey regardless.