The Cult, "Hidden City" (Cooking Vinyl)
The Cult has had its ups and downs over the more than 30 years since its debut. "Hidden City" shows the band climbing new heights.
Led by mystically inclined singer and lyricist Ian Astbury and down-to-earth, riff generating guitarist Billy Duffy, the band's 10th album, "Hidden City," rocks fiercely but leaves room for both a heavy heart and a light touch.
Samples of the rip-roaring drive include opening cut "Dark Energy," ''No Love Lost" and "G O A T," drummed into submission by John Tempesta.
Bob Rock's fifth stint as the band's producer also gives The Cult the confidence to tone it down sometimes and wander into sounds and styles reminiscent of David Bowie, U2 and Nick Cave, while adding their own idiosyncratic imprint.
"Deeply Ordered Chaos" reflects on last year's Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris, with strings underscoring the drama as Astbury's brief, repetitive phrases also draw attention to the tragedy in Syria.
"In Blood" is a slow burn, its Astbury-as-Jim Morrison lyrics melding film-noir scenes with wolves and daggers, while the chugging, six-plus minutes of "Birds of Paradise" are vintage end-of-'80s Cult, "everything that you hold, immortalized in paradise."
The relationship between Astbury and Duffy is famously volatile — ironically, Duffy first introduced Johnny Marr to Morrissey, the epitome of feuding band members — but they are rock steady on the splendid "Hidden City."