When Cult of Luna closed out 2014’s epic Beyond the redshift festival, there was a fear that the band were going on an extended break. Happily, that break has come to an end with the release of ‘Raangest’, a split ep alongside The Old Wind, an act comprising members of Breach and The Ocean. Translated as “raw anxiety”, ‘Raangest’ is part of the split EP series from Pelagic records that started with The Ocean and Mono and, as the press release accurately says, the series does much to bring back the days when fans would regularly grab up EPs that contained music from a favourite band on one side and something completely new on the other. Whilst this could be considered an anachronism in the days of instant internet searches, there remains no better way to support bands and labels and to find new music to cherish.
Offering just one track, Cult of Luna provide an epic cover version of Amebix’s ‘Last will and testament’ from ‘monolith’. Interestingly, in imbuing the track with the ethereal grandeur inherent in Cult of Luna’s sound, the band have actually drawn the music in the direction that Amebix themselves headed on the amazing ‘sonic mass’ album, drawing a line between the gruelling crust punk of Amebix’s early days and the shimmering, hypnotic beauty of post-metal. At seven minutes (two minutes longer than the original), the track ebbs and flows between serene riffs and moments of crushing brutality, and Cult of Luna do an amazing job of capturing the spirit of the original whilst simultaneously bringing their own unique feel to it.
Offering a darker, sludgier sound that draws comparisons with Neurosis and the Ocean’s earlier efforts, The Old Wind offer up two tracks recorded in February 2015 during sessions for the band’s forthcoming album. The first track, ‘Wooden scythe’, sees huge, impenetrable riffs laid against Tomas Liljedahl’s wounded roar. There’s a dark, oppressive feel to the music as drums, guitar and bass close in from all sides, blotting out the light and ensnaring the listener in a web of darkly hypnotic riffs. Ferociously heavy and yet with a bold arty streak, ‘wooden scythe’ is a crushing statement of intent that only grows with repeated listens. Slower, but no less abrasive, ‘daughters of cleanse’ is awash with atonal riffs and raw-throated screams, gaining yet more weight through its relentless trudge through doom-laden pastures. Harrowing yet compelling, ‘daughters of cleanse’ closes the all-too-brief EP and promises much for the new LP.
Given the fanatic nature of Cult of Luna’s fan base, there is no doubt that this excellent split EP will be much in demand. Pelagic have a reputation for releasing music that pushes the boundaries of music production, blurring the lines between music and art, and their vinyl releases, particularly, are to be treasured. However, whilst the Cult of Luna track is typically excellent, what makes this release so engaging are the two stunning tracks from The Old Wind and it is not surprising to note that this release came about because Cult of Luna are fans of the band. ‘Raangest’ is a near perfect exercise in intelligent, forward thinking metal and is the first essential release of 2016.