Start 1:10AM: There are almost no practical reasons for anyone to get involved in the trade inaccurately called “music journalism” despite having very little to do with either. The money (when you get any) sucks, and contrary to popular belief, finding out the vast majority of your rock heroes are morons, resentful assholes or both isn’t glamorous or enticing. It’s disappointing. The music industry, such as it is, doesn’t give a shit about you. People use you for what they can and are done with you, and you, if you’re good at it, are done with them too. There are good people and you make some friends, but mostly you exist in a cordial symbiosis. I need you and you need me. Until they don’t or you don’t, whichever comes first.
I’ve been thinking a lot about career lately. I’ve had time. The only reason I can come up with for doing this — aside from the “Aw man, do it for the love” line which is bullshit no matter what anyone tells you — is free goo. CDs and concert tickets. I’m 27 years old with a lifestyle and attitude unhealthy for me on almost every level and the realization I’ve been forced to come to is my entire professional life has been geared toward getting me free CDs and concert tickets. My mother used to tell me I had the potential to be anything I wanted, to do anything I wanted. Clearly she was lying.
The point here isn’t to moan, only to point out facts. If I didn’t love it, I wouldn’t be doing it (likewise, if I didn’t love being miserable, I wouldn’t be), but in the words of someone wiser than myself, it is what it is. Usually it’s complacence. At least I’m not in the city every fucking day.
But on the topic of free CDs. Most of the “metal majors” don’t send out physical promos anymore. It’s all mp3s and album streams. So even that purpose is gone. Century Media used to ship their albums in cardboard sleeves, ditto for Nuclear Blast. Both have stopped, though the occasional care package from the latter is most welcome. Metal Blade sent liner notes, tray cards and CDs without cases, but that stopped. I don’t know what Roadrunner does these days. Relapse does streamers and sleeves, though they’re not always complete. If it’s a digipak, you get the disc and the liner notes. That’s how it was with the Voivod and Dysrhythmia records, anyway. I used to ask for the real deal retail versions from everyone when I didn’t get them automatically, as though I was entitled. Not anymore. Earache, on the other hand, just sent me a full copy — double disc jewel case and cardboard outer cover — of the limited CD/DVD reissue of Cult of Luna‘s last album, 2008′s Eternal Kingdom.
I’ve had my differences with Earache in the past. They jumped full-boat on that rethrash Municipal Waste thing, and as far as I’m concerned that whole scene can get fucked off the side of a cliff. They release some bullshit, like every label of their caliber, but for them to send out a full physical promo of an album they’re reissuing after having already sent a full copy when it was initially released last year? It’s either idiocy or a genuine belief in the band, and if it’s the former I don’t think the label would have lasted as long as it has. Earache must really be behind this record, if only for the lack in economic sense it makes to give it to me without cost — again.
So thanks, Earache, for having a fucking clue what’s really up. So help me robot jesus, I’ll gladly review this record one more time.
And don’t think for a second that’s me kissing label ass, because I have no reason at this point to suck up to anyone. It’s not like I’m fishing for a fucking job.
When Eternal Kingdom was first released by Earache, I speculated that Swedish eight-piece (one shy of a neuftet!) Cult of Luna had positioned themselves at the top of the post-metal heap — Neurosis aside, of course. An album thoughtfully executed in both composition and concept based on writings discovered in the abandoned mental hospital used as a rehearsal and recording space, it had a complete and experimental feel while sacrificing none of its heaviness for the sake of intellectual cred. It wasn’t too smart to rock, despite its Earthy interludes and ambient parts.
Even factoring in the Isis album released in the meantime, I stand by my initial impression of Eternal Kingdom and its ultimate effect on Cult of Luna‘s status within their genre. It is an album as diverse and interesting to hear as it is capable of drawing the blood from your ears when played at the appropriate volume. The band’s avant garde edge is balanced against their unwillingness to sacrifice the song for the sake of its parts and the end result — though I haven’t gone back and listened to it every day or anything like that — proves they deserve to be considered among the top tier in what they do. Maybe that’s why Earache decided to put Eternal Kingdom out again with the Fire Was Born DVD included. I won’t bother to speculate any more than I already have.
Fire Was Born shows the band live on a crowded London stage blasting through several of the Eternal Kingdom tracks and others, including a doubly-drummed rendition of my personal favorite, “Finland,” from 2006′s Somewhere Along the Highway. With so many people on stage, Cult of Luna defy the “boring live DVD” clich?; there’s always something to look at, and all the more so as the set comes to a close with “Dark City, Dead Man” and the video distortion parallels audio deconstruction of the song.
Also included for the faint of attention span are promo videos of “The Watchtower,” “Leave Me Here” and “Back to Chapel Town,” from 2003′s The Beyond, 2004′s Salvation, and Somewhere Along the Highway, respectively, and an interview in which guitarist/vocalist Johannes Persson and sampler/synth specialist Anders Teglund answer questions submitted by fans, covering everything from “How did you get your name?” to how a band with eight members can actually function. That’s not an answer any student of diplomacy should miss.
But if the focus of the reissue is to be the album itself, and hopefully it is, it can easily be said that Eternal Kingdom, though more refined than some of Cult of Luna‘s more blatantly aggressive early work, is their most accomplished album to date, and thus well deserving a second look/listen. As an individual expression in its given style, Eternal Kingdom offers even more this time around. Not to be missed again.
Finish 2:13am. If you’re still reading, thanks.
Tags: Cult of Luna, Earache, post-metal, Sweden