CHOICE OF WEAPON
Having never been an overly huge fan of The Cult, I've always struggled to understand the rabid way their fans follow them. Clearly, they are one of those bands that are polarizinng. Their fans tend to REALLY love their music. Being honest, I think songs like "Edie" and "She Sells Sanctuary" are pretty cool. I have a few albums, like ELECTRIC, LOVE and SONIC TEMPLE. They are cool I guess. I think they might just be a bit too artsy for my taste, to be perfectly honest.
With CHOICE OF WEAPON, the band that would never record another album because it's a dead format have returned with another album in the dead format. Interestingly, it's the first time in the history of The Cult that they've recorded back to back albums with the same lineup. CHOICE OF WEAPON is definitely one of the most interesting albums of The Cult's career, and it's probably the least likely to find mass appeal. In short, CHOICE OF WEAPON is a very deep album that, while sounding somewhat like their past work, really expands and explores a lot of new ground for the band.
The leader of this band, vocalist Ian Astbury, really is one of the more artistically talented guys in rock music. With CHOICE OF WEAPON, he seems as if he might have been stuck channelling his inner Jim Morrison throughout many of these songs. Lyrically, the depth of writing goes from its normal level of deep to a more difficult to understand place that he, and he alone, may be the only one that can understand it. Songs like "Wilderness Now" showcase Astbury coming from a unique place musically. Other tunes like "Lucifer" may not be the deepest lyrics that Astbury has ever written, but they are some of the most biting. Vocally, age and years have deepened Astbury's voice a touch. The astronomical range of the past is not there anymore, but Astbury has adapted the material to meet his now lower tone.
The other musicians are fine throughout as well. Guitarist Billy Duffy, bassist Chris Wyse and former White Zombie drummer John Tempesta create music that sounds distinctly like the band's past work. It does sound as if it's tuned down a touch to accommodate Astbury, there will be no mistaking this for anything other than The Cult.
If I have an issue with the material, it's that it's so locked into the vision instead of simply creating great songs. I get that these guys are artsy, and that Astbury likes to write about Native American heritage, but songs like "Pale Horse" are a bit tough to decipher and come off as grandiose toward a cause that pretty much ran its course long ago.
One final thing I must address, that deserves the utmost credit - the packaging. Simply put, this is the best CD package to hit my desk in a very long time. It's a binded booklet - literally. Great imagery is included with the lyrics,a s well as a nice setup for storing the disc and the accompanying bonus disc.
PITRIFF RATING - 74/100 - While much of this material goes to some places that won't remind you at all off The Cult's heyday, there's no denying that there's a lot of quality moments on this release. While there's not a "Fire Woman" in the bunch, there's no indication they were looking to write one either. CHOICE OF WEAPON is a deep record that is solid but avoids trying to find mass appeal. Clearly, this is an Ian Astbury record and is exactly what he wanted it to be.