In 2013, Swedish post-metal band Cult of Luna released Vertikal, a concept album heavily inspired by such asMetropolis to explore themes of industrial cities. That album has remained one of my favorite albums of all time, and I was eager to know what the band was going to do next. So when I heard that their next project was collaboration with American singer Julie Christmas, and would be a concept album about space exploration based on movies such as 2001: A Space Odyssey, I already knew that it was going to be a contender for album of the year.
Julie Christmas is famous for her work with Made Out of Babies and Battle of Mice, but has not sung on a full album since her solo album The Bad Wife in 2010. Her vocal style is fragile and haunting. It actually reminds me a lot of Adam Fisher (Fear Before the March of Flames/Orbs/All Human) who is one of my all time favorite singers. I knew her voiced matched with Cult of Luna would create a quite a unique experience. Needless to say, this album delivers.
“A Greater Call” starts off with a beautiful almost three-minute intro before a combination of Julie’s cleans and Cult of Luna’s trademark yells come into play, bringing the song into full effect. This is one of my favorite songs released by either project, as it is sludgy and mysterious at the same time. “Chevron” features industrial like fuzzy bass playing while Julie takes full control of the vocals. She shows the diversity of her voice, eventually going from high shrieks to beautiful melodies towards the end. “The Wreck of S.S. Needle” might be the darkest track on the album, reminding me a lot of some of the atmospheric sections of Vertikal.
And while the 8 to 9 minute songs were already epic, the album closes with a 13- minute and a 15-minute track that show the band and Julie’s ability to jam while simultaneously going back and forth from soft to heavy within the context of a song. Overall, it is an incredible album that is not for the faint of heart. When tackled, it is a rewarding experience.
– Jordan Salfity