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Somewhere Along the Highway

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Album Review

If you think you know what Swedish metal is all about, Cult of Luna may make you change your mind. Yes, there's heaviosity aplenty here: these very long tracks (averaging about ten minutes each) all boast a huge and dense sound. But not all of them start out that way, and none of them ever approaches the kind of high-intensity death trip that characterizes the work of their countrymen Meshuggah or Amon Amarth. In fact, Somewhere Along the Highway actually features several moments of sheer beauty — and the shockingly restrained "And with Her Came the Birds" features not only drums played with jazz brushes but also, believe it or not, a banjo. That's not to say that there isn't plenty of screaming and yelling and raw, pounding beats. It's just that on tracks like "Finland" and the gorgeous "Dim," the screaming and yelling take clear second billing to richly melodic layers of guitar. Even on darker material, such as the arrhythmic and brooding "Marching to the Heartbeats," the overriding concern seems to be more with building a carefully constructed soundscape rather than just venting spleen. And if the pattern gets a bit predictable and tiresome by the album-ending instrumental "Dark City Dead Man," it's still a powerful and compelling one. Recommended.


Formed: Umea, Sweden

Genre: Metal

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Formed from the remnants of a hardcore band named Eclipse in the far northern Swedish town of Umeå (also home to avant-hardcore masters Refused and metal extremists Meshuggah and Naglfar), Cult of Luna have perfected an elaborate, extremely dark progressive style of metalcore largely derived from the pioneering work of America's Neurosis. Although hardly the only band to find inspiration in the Bay Area bunch (Isis and Rwake also numbering among their disciples), Cult of Luna are unquestionably among...
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Somewhere Along the Highway, Cult of Luna
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