After a renowned career spanning over three decades, The Cult have released their tenth studio album, Hidden City, which hit the shelves yesterday (Friday 4th February 2016). Hidden City is the final chapter in The Cult’s rebirth trilogy, which includes Born into This and Choice of Weapon.
As I embarked on the task of putting together a review for this album, it struck me just how hard a duty I’d set myself. The level of spiritualism and complexity that The Cult devise in their music is beyond me, and most likely beyond most, but one thing I know for sure is that these guys know how to play.
Astbury is renowned for expressing his views, and in a way I think that’s what keeps The Cult’s music alive. Granted, they’ve had their less publicly recognised periods, but they’ve succeeded in regaining their shape. So many bands from the post-punk era have withered, simply because they haven’t been able to step it up when it’s time for change, yet Astbury and Duffy have both continued to progress as a result of moving with the times.
Unlike many artists from their era, The Cult have always managed to distance themselves from being a nostalgia band. They continue to live, learn, and build on their existing techniques and influences, to ultimately share their words and music with people who want to listen.
“Hidden City is a metaphor for our spiritual lives, our intimate interior lives. I find today’s gurus are trying to peddle some cure, product or insight as if it’s a new phenomenon. My place is to respond, not react, to observe, participate and share through words and music. There is no higher authority than the heart” – Ian Astbury
Hidden City begins with Dark Energy, the first single released from the album. This track certainly jumps straight into the subject matter for the album. When you listen to the fiery guitar riff from Duffy, coupled with Astbury’s combative vocals, the track comes across as a perfect example of the much more dynamic and lively side of The Cult, which began on albums such as Electric. Lyrics such as “every soul alive burns bright in this life” seem to paint a message of fairness, and that no single power or force should have any ruling over another soul.
Deeply Ordered Chaos is the second single released by the band, which takes the sound back to it’s early gothic rock roots. It’s a really intriguing track, and touches on very strong topics, as has been expected with The Cult in the past.
Deeply Ordered Chaos was released as a single mid-December, but it would be interesting to know when it was officially recorded, as the content is very close to home. With lyrics such as “violence in my head”, “defend Paris”, and “Syria the fall”, I’m curious if the writing on this was in connection to the Paris events that occurred late last year. Either way, it’s an incredibly hard-hitting, and thought provoking track, which questions our fundamental rights of freedom and equality on a level we can all relate to.
The album packs a lot into a single release, which is an incredible feat for any artist. Tracks such as Lillies, Birds of Paradise and Sound and Fury take more of a slow paced tempo and elegant tone, acting as a canvas for Astbury and Duffys poetic directive. For me, however, it’s all about those tracks that take you back and trigger particular memories from their back catalogue. You’ll certainly find yourself reflecting on certain tracks as if you’re hearing a song you haven’t heard in years.
Although the album strives to act as a rejuvenation towards different sounds from the band, each song on the album teases a hint of the classic sound we’ve grown to know and love from The Cult, just enough so to remind you just how far back their story goes. It’s these connections that give the album its true depth, and make it fresh but welcoming at the same time.
Whether it be through the lyrics or the band itself, this album is powerful from start to finish, and after three decades since their first studio album, The Cult don’t seem to be showing any signs of slowing down. Be sure to pick your copy of the album, and catch them on their extensive UK tour later this month (dates can be found further down the page).
Recommended Track – G O A T
Greatest of All Time is my chosen track for Hidden City, simply for the clinging guitar riffs that play alongside Astbury’s voice equivalent to the ultimate operatic backing group, all of which is sustained and built up throughout the song. The track is strangely abbreviated to G O A T for the track listing, which I couldn’t quite crack. Either I’m reading into it, or a fan out there can explain it to me!
1. Dark Energy
2. No Love Lost
3. Dance The Night
4. In Blood
5. Birds Of Paradise
8. Deeply Ordered Chaos
9. Avalanche Of Light
12. Sound And Fury
UK Tour Dates:
February 25th 2016 – Bristol, Colston Hall
February 26th 2016 – Manchester, Albert Hall
February 27th 2016 – London, O2 Academy Brixton
February 29th 2016 – Nottingham, Rock City
March 1st 2016 – Birmingham, O2 Institute
March 3rd 2016 – Aberdeen, Music Hall
March 4th 2016 – Glasgow, Barrowlands
March 6th 2016 – Belfast, Mandela Hall
March 8th 2016 – Leeds, Beckett University Union
March 9th 2016 – Newcastle, Upon Tyne City Hall
March 10th 2016 – Norwich, UEA