Review: The Cult - Born Into This
Label: Roadrunner Records
Released: October 2, 2007
In the late 80s, the Cult released a string of amazing records: Love, a psychdelic goth-rocker; Electric, their simple hard rock riff factory; and Sonic Temple, the album that exploded into the middle ground between its two predecessors. As successful as they were, several misguided, unfocused efforts in the 90s derailed their progress. That made 2001's Beyond Good and Evil such a huge surprise and that surprise in turn made the follow-up, some six years later, a tough act to chase.
On Born Into This, the Cult don't quite bring the same energy level that they shocked us with six years ago (or at least they don't bring it in the same way) and that makes the first listen a little disappointing. However, subsequent passes leave that last album in its time as the Cult rediscover a more distant past. This album isn't as consistent as most Cult albums. Instead of really melding their hard rock and goth egos, they alternate with one side dominating and then ceding control to the other on the next track.
Those expecting a primarily hard rock album (i.e., the Electric fans) might be disappointed, because the songs that lean their direction are the the weakest tracks. Songs like "Dirty Little Rockstar" only work because the Cult can bring their tremendous performance power to bear on even a mediocre song. It's really the songs influenced by their pre-Electric recordings that shine the brightest along with "Holy Mountain" which finds Ian Astbury doing '68 Comeback-era Elvis with conviction. However, the Cult's half step back from the hard rock with which they'd found so much success doesn't mean the album doesn't rock every bit as much once you get on board with the new (old) direction.
Although the production is weak and doesn't help the album really take off and while Duffy and the new members may not be quite in peak form, Astbury still walks that line between the dark poetry of Morrison and the cartoonish bombast of Danzig. Overall, the Cult finds its groove and captures the shamanistic feel that has made their best work seem more like a tribal experience than just a rock record.