I suppose I shouldn’t look a “gift horse” in the mouth. Here come the Christmas jokes? But really, I thought Cult of Luna was going to be taking a break so it’s good to have new music from them. The unknown quantity for me was Julie Christmas. I’d never heard of her prior to this collaboration with Cult of Luna. It concerned me because I really love Cult of Luna and they don’t need any help.
Suffice to say, my opinion stands. Cult of Luna doesn’t need Julie Christmas. The music on “Mariner” is CLASSIC Cult of Luna. It’s heavy, epic and also atmospheric when it needs to be. The problem with “Mariner” is Christmas’ voice can be really annoying at times. CoL is HEAVY and when Christmas matches that power with screams, it works. Other times, her voice is a mix of being waify and cartoonish. I find that annoying beyond belief! The opener “A Greater Call” is a decent mix of the band and Christmas, with her voice being used more as support than lead.
For example, her vocals on the bashing closer “Cygnus 1” are really good. She fits in well with the band. While on “Chevron,” she sounds like she is trying to be cute or something and it’s incredibly annoying. She isn’t on “Approaching Transition” and that just underscores the fact that she really isn’t needed at all on “Mariner.” I’d be very interested in a Christmas free version of “Mariner.”
On the plus side, Cult of Luna sound amazing. The music is less experimental like “Vertikal I & II.” “Mariner” is more like classic Cult of Luna which is fine. Really, the band can do no wrong. Well, other than including an extra singer on an album that didn’t need one!
1. A Greater Call
3. The Wreck of S.S. Needle
4. Approaching Transition
5. Cygnus 1
Label: Indie Recordings