The Cult Choice Of Weapon
After playing dress-up as sleazy trash-rockers on 2007’s Born Into This, dissonant nu-metal thugs on 2001’s Beyond Good And Evil, and super-fashionable grunge heads on 1994’s self-titled effort, The Cult takes a novel approach to its ninth studio album: Singer Ian Astbury and guitarist Billy Duffy sound more like classic-era Cult on Choice Of Weapon than they have in two decades. Returning to the amalgam of glam, hard rock, and goth-pop that has always been its strength, The Cult strips itself of the additives and goes back to being more or less itself. Unfortunately, the revival doesn’t come with songs to match the band’s classic singles.
It’s not for lack of effort. Duffy pulls out simultaneously muscular and spidery leads on “The Wolf,” but it’s more of an homage to “She Sells Sanctuary” than a fitting successor. Producer Bob Rock gives the guitars on “Honey From A Knife” a big-block V8 rumble that hints at the band’s first attempts to embrace its hard-rock side on 1987’s Electric, minus any of that era’s vitality. As it did in the mid-’80s, The Cult spends most of Choice Of Weapon triangulating the safest point midway between arena rock and its gothic influences. “For The Animals” goes heavy on the swagger, with overblown guitars nearly obscuring the band’s darker underpinnings. The band steps away from the six-string to build the sluggish “Life>Death” around a piano melody and comes away with a tune midway between a torch ballad and a dirge. Without any standout songs to propel it, Choice Of Weapon may be a return to style, but it’s not a return to form.