CULT OF LUNA — Mariner (with Julie Christmas) (review)

CULT OF LUNA — Mariner (with Julie Christmas) album cover Album · 2016 · Atmospheric Sludge Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4.5/5 ·
adg211288
Mariner (2016) is a collaborative full-length studio album release by Swedish sludge metal act Cult of Luna and American musician Julie Christmas (ex-Battle of Mice). For Cult of Luna Mariner serves as their seventh studio album, following Vertikal (2013) while for Julie Christmas it serves as a second album following The Bad Wife (2010). Mariner has a theme of space exploration and contains five tracks, each of them over the eight minute mark.

Of the two artists I only have some experience with Cult of Luna's work previously, have heard both Vertikal and the accompanying Vertikal II EP (2013). Julie Christmas I know has a similar sludge metal background though, so it's no surprise that the two artists prove a very compatible pairing on Mariner. The music is incredibly atmospheric but with plenty of harsh sections as well, mostly from the vocals provided by Cult of Luna, although Christmas isn't shy to throw in some screams as well. Typically the two both provide vocals in a track, but middle song The Wreck of S.S. Needle is notable for only using Julie's vocals, while the following Approaching Transition takes an opposite approach, not featuring her voice at all.

I usually find that atmospheric black metal acts have a monopoly on capturing the majesty of space, but between them Cult of Luna and Julie Christmas have created an experience to rival their cosmic black metal counterparts, also producing something more unique sounding in the process. Tracks like Chevron and Cygnus are of particular note, but the album has to be taken as a whole in order to really appreciate what's been created here, as the mood can vary quite a lot. The Wreck of S.S. Needle for example is a much more direct track focussing more on riffs than atmosphere, with Christmas providing a varied vocal than ranges from soft singing to manic screaming. Sometimes the album can seem simplistic on the surface, but once scratched many underlying details are revealed, some of which I'd even call progressive, all of which makes up the absorbing sound that makes Mariner such a great album.

I was impressed with Cult of Luna on Vertikal but I have to say that I enjoy Mariner so much more. Not only does Julie Christmas bring a voice that is a nice addition to the table, it simply seems to be an even stronger album on all counts. Mariner is definitely something more than a Cult of Luna album with a guest female vocalist. I'd like to hear these two work together again.
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adg211288 wrote:
more than 2 years ago
I'll take your word for it. I don't typically listen to many splits, let alone review them.
UMUR wrote:
more than 2 years ago
That´s way too much Work to put into reviewing a split release IMO.
adg211288 wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Yeah I saw that. I suppose with split reviews you could actually talk about each artist separately and post them, but such isn't possible on a collaboration.
UMUR wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Yeah that´s the unfortunate side effect of our split and collaborative profiles. I recently had to submit the same review four times for a split.
adg211288 wrote:
more than 2 years ago
I have posted this review but but had to re-post it due to a policy change on collaboration releases. If you have also rated this album please do so again.

Version on Julie Christmas' page: http://www.metalmusicarchives.com/album/julie-christmas/mariner-with-cult-of-luna

I will post my review there only after this copy is moved from the front page.

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