The Cult | Born Into This (Roadrunner/New Wilderness)

cd_cult.jpgRather than continuing in the vein of Beyond Good and Evil or branching off in a new direction, the Cult of ‘07 seems content to try to rock out with their cock out like it’s 1989.








Expectations can be a bitch. Any rock band willing to wait half a dozen years between albums is gambling not only that people will still care when the comeback arrives, but that the band can match the expectations that have built up during the break. Lady Luck smiled upon the Cult in 2001 with the release of Beyond Good and Evil—the first album by the ’80s goth-metal giants in seven years—and the surprise modern rock hit "Rise," quite possibly the finest metal single of the early part of the new millennium. The momentum proved short-lived: singer Ian Astbury took a break to join two of the surviving members of the Doors on the road as Riders on the Storm, guitarist Billy Duffy launched the new side project Circus Diablo, and drummer Matt Sorum rejoined his former Guns N’ Roses bandmates in the supergroup Velvet Revolver. Six years since the release of Beyond Good and Evil, Astbury and Duffy roll the dice again with a new lineup on Born Into This, the first record on the band’s New Wilderness imprint.

Back in ’01, Astbury and Duffy could have easily delivered a rehash of the sound that made them famous in the first place, but Beyond Good and Evil was defiantly modern and all the better for it. It sounded not like a band reliving past glories, nor like an old dog desperately trying to learn new tricks, but like grizzled veterans ready to beat the young kids at their own game.

In that context, Born Into This is a bit of a disappointment. Rather than continuing in the vein of Beyond Good and Evil or branching off in a new direction, the Cult of ‘07 seems content to try to rock out with their cock out like it’s 1989, which wouldn’t necessarily be bad if it sounded like their heart was in it, but sadly it doesn’t. Astbury’s voice is fine but lacks fire; when he yelps "Yeah!" or "C’mon!" over Duffy’s squealing guitar in the album opening title track, it sounds like he’s reading them off of a lyric sheet rather than because the music demands it of him. Also missing from the last time out is the massive sound: "Rise," in particular, nearly ripped your face off from its first seconds, Sorum’s drums bludgeoning you with the force of caveman’s club, but the new rhythm section of bassist Chris Wyse and drummer John Tempesta sounds hopelessly tame by comparison.

Still, Born Into This is far from a total loss. The album finally kicks to life on "Dirty Little Rockstar," the album’s fourth track and first single, with a grooving little bass line, a straight-out-of-the-80s guitar riff, and Astbury’s strut-errific chorus. Elsewhere,  "Illuminated" finally brings in the epic guitar sound of classic Cult, the acoustic guitar and piano of the ballad "Holy Mountain" provides a nice mid-album break, and "Sound of Destruction" ends the album with a solid little rocker. The album grows on you after a few listens, too, and is as a whole a pretty solid (if unremarkable) rock record. The grade I give it below may seem low at first, but remember that C just means average, and that’s exactly what the Cult delivered on Born Into This: a slightly above-average album that wouldn’t be out of place in the middle of a long-running band’s journeyman-rocker period. Now if only they hadn’t made us wait so long for it… C+ | Jason Green

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