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Music / Cult of Luna

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Cult of Luna is an Atmospheric Sludge/Post-Metal Band from Umeå, Sweden. Their roots are in the Swedish hardcore scene when founders Klas Rydberg and Johannes Persson's old band Eclipse broke up, but they have since emerged as one of the most prominent and influential bands in post-metal. As members of the scene, they are frequently compared to Isis or Neurosis, but retain a distinct sound. They are characterized by long, building crescendos and a massive wall of crushing sound that adds both heaviness and sullen melodies. This is achieved through no small part of the seven members that are all part of the sound, including four guitar players and two drummers.

Band members:
  • Johannes Persson - Guitars, Vocals
  • Magnus Líndberg - Guitars, Percussion
  • Erik Olòfsson - Guitars
  • Andreas Johansson - Bass
  • Thomas Hedlund - Drums
  • Anders Teglund - Sampler, Synthesizer, Trumpet
  • Fredrik Kihlberg - Guitars, Vocals

Former members:

  • Klas Rydberg - Vocals (1998-2012)
  • Fredrik Renström - Bass (1999)
  • Marco Hildén - Drums (1999-2002)
  • Axel Stattin - Bass (2000-2002)

Studio albums:

  • Cult of Luna (2001)
  • The Beyond (2003)
  • Salvation (2004)
  • Somewhere Along the Highway (2006)
  • Eternal Kingdom (2008)
  • Vertikal (2013)
  • Mariner (collaboration with Julie Christmas) (2016)
  • A Dawn to Fear (2019)
  • The Raging River (2021)
  • The Long Road North (2022)


  • Album Intro Track: The Beyond and Vertikal have "Inside Fort Meade" and "The One", respectively. "Marching to the Heartbeats" is a Surprisingly Gentle minimalistic drone track with lyrics of romantic disappointment.
  • Album Title Drop: A few:
    • The last line in "Further" (and the album) is "to the beyond."
    • "Leave Me Here" has the line "Just like salvation comes in the end."
    • "And With Her Came the Birds" has "Somewhere along the highway these tracks must end."
    • Eternal Kingdom doesn't have one, but the Title Track has the lyrics "Let kingdom come. Eternal order done."
  • The Aloner: A frequent perspective in the lyrics. The band even went to record alone in a barn in the woods to get a rawer production effect.
  • Based on a Great Big Lie: Eternal Kingdom. Apparently Johannes Persson would constantly tell reporters that the album was recorded in a rehearsal space (being an old mental asylum), where they found a book called Tales from the Eternal Kingdom, written by a mental patient who was convicted for murdering his wife. He later on confirmed it was all a hoax just so the band could point out the lack of integrity of musical journalists.
  • Beast Man: Apparently the characters in Eternal Kingdom are owl people. And tree people.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Some of the lyrics for "Approaching Transition" are in Swedish, as are all the song titles on Eternal Music and scattered song titles elsewhere. Eviga riket features two narration tracks, one in English and one in Swedish.
  • Boléro Effect: As a post-metal group, they use this at least once in most of their songs, and several times in many of them.
  • Breather Episode: After a massive breakdown in "Ghost Trail", one can't help but think the instrumental "The Lure", comprised of a clean guitar and some piano, exists to help recover. "Crossing Over" serves a similar purpose on Salvation, while "And With Her Came the Birds" is the Somewhere Along the Highway equivalent.
  • Climactic Music: This band has multiple epic climaxes. "Ghost Trail" ends with a giant breakdown riff that accelerates faster and faster until it stops. "Following Betulas", after a long industrial build, shifts gears into a triumphant trumpet-filled climax. "Vicarious Redemption" spends nearly nineteen minutes building a despondent post-metal atmosphere, climaxing with a soaring guitar lead.
    • One of the best examples in their whole discography has to be "Cygnus", which ends with several layers of overdubbed vocals (from both Christmas and Persson and/or Kihlberg) that creates an effect that has to be heard to be believed.
  • Concept Album:
    • Somewhere Along the Highway addresses themes of male loneliness and generally has a rural theme.
    • Eternal Kingdom is about... something. There are owls involved. The theme of this work crosses over to Eviga riket, which is allegedly an Audio Adaptation of the supposed source material (but, as mentioned under Based on a Great Big Lie, the band made the whole thing up).
    • Vertikal is based on Metropolis.
    • Mariner concerns space exploration and "a journey into the unknown". The band cited 2001: A Space Odyssey as an inspiration.
  • Cover Version: The band has covered "Bodies" by The Smashing Pumpkins, "Recluse" by Unbroken, and "Last Will and Testament" by Amebix.
  • Cyberpunk: Vertikal has this feel due to the Metropolis theme.
  • Distinct Double Album: Of the "released in two parts" variant. Vertikal II exists because the band recorded too much material during the Vertikal sessions to fit on a single CD, and the band didn't want to release a double album. The material on the EP seems to consist of material that the band didn't fit into the narrative of the album, plus a remix that exists only because of Executive Meddling (but that the band and most other people wound up liking anyway, probably because it was done by Justin K. Broadrick of Godflesh and Jesu fame).
  • Downer Ending: "Dark City, Dead Man" is a textbook example of a downer ending in music, which ends with the protagonist losing the trust and love of his romantic interest, which in turn sends his entire life crashing downwards, and perhaps even into suicide.
    • "Passing Through" from Vertikal is also a really, really depressing album ending, at least from a musical standpoint. They seem to favour either Downer Endings or Bittersweet Endings to their albums.
  • Dream Sequence: "Thirtyfour" is about chasing a girl in a dream, only to find she disappears.
  • Dubstep: A "wub-wub" synth line bursts in unexpectedly in "Vicarious Redemption".
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: With the debut, which wasn't different from their later sound by much, but was far more hardcore-based and featured fewer of the dynamic shifts their music became noted for. There's also more Doom Metal influence on their early releases. Some fans consider their material to have improved with later releases, though finding fans of the first album isn't too hard.
  • Epic Rocking: Rare when it doesn't happen. Their longest track is "Vicarious Redemption" (18:45). Between their major studio releases up to A Dawn to Fear, they have twenty-five tracks at or longer than ten minutesnote  (and two more that just barely miss the cut, the 9:59 "Thirtyfour" and the 9:57 "In Awe Of"). By contrast, only nineteen tracks note  are under six minutes, and most of these are intended as interludes (and that's being extremely pedantic and including the 5:59 "And With Her Came the Birds").
  • Epic Instrumental Opener: Frequently, with the most extreme example being "Dim", which doesn't introduce vocals until 9 minutes in (to a song that is a little under 12 minutes long.)
  • Harsh Vocals: To be expected, though there are some songs that have exceptions.
  • Instrumentals: They have a few, mostly used as interludes. The nearly twelve-minute "Beyond the Redshift" is easily the longest (it contains some wordless vocals, but no actual lyrics). And the interstitial music on Eviga riket (most of which was later re-released as Eternal Music) is almost all instrumental.
  • Leitmotif: "The One" is comprised of a theme that appears in multiple tracks across Vertikal.
  • Loudness War: The first album seems to be the worst affected. The others are still somewhat clipped, but not as badly.
  • Men Are Tough: Explored in Somewhere Along the Highway, which explores themes of male loneliness. The band have stated that gender roles that perpetuate this trope lead men who don't identify with such toughness to be less able to express themselves.
  • Nature Spirit: What the creatures described in Eternal Kingdom seem to be, including owl spirits and tree spirits.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "THE! KIIIIIIIIIIIING!" on "Ghost Trail".
  • Sampling/Spoken Word in Music: The Beyond contains samples of Noam Chomsky from Propaganda and Control of the Public Mind and of Oren Lyons, chief of the Onondaga nation, from the film Native American Wisdom.
  • Sanity Slippage Song: Most of Eternal Kingdom could be this.
  • Self-Titled Album: Their début.
  • Sinister Surveillance: Comes up in the distinctly anti-authoritarian album The Beyond and in the music video for "Leave Me Here".
  • Song Style Shift: "Vicarious Redemption". Post-metal into Dubstep and then back.
  • Soprano and Gravel: Their usual vocal style is a hardcore roar, but some songs ("Crossing Over", "Marching to the Heartbeats", "And With Her Came the Birds", etc.) feature clean singing. Exaggerated on their collaboration with Julie Christmas, on which both the CoL vocalists and Christmas use both screams and clean singing.
  • The Stoic: Everyone.
  • Subdued Section: Cult of Luna is very dynamic, so this can happen anywhere.
  • Surprisingly Gentle Song: They have a few instrumental interludes that aren't crushing metal, but they have a few full-length songs here and there. "Marching to the Heartbeats" on Somewhere Along the Highway sounds like a lighter Jesu track. "And With Her Came the Birds" from the same album sounds almost like a depressing folky blues track. "Passing Through" on Vertikal ends the album on a simple, somber note. "Crossing Over" from Salvation barely features the harsh vocals found on the album's other tracks (they're there at the climax, but mixed so quietly that if you weren't paying attention, you might not even notice them) and is more focused on atmospheric keyboards (and even ends with a major key melody). The Mariner bonus track "Beyond the Redshift" is a serene ambient instrumental.
  • Textless Album Cover: Vertikal is just drab grey paint drips. The Vertikal II EP has the same scheme, but seen through a semicircular window. A Dawn to Fear has a more organic-looking circle on a tan background.
  • Trapped in Another World: The concept for "Back to Chapel Town" was a man waking up in a world he doesn't recognize where nobody trusts him.
  • Uncommon Time: Not often, but "In Awe Of" has a groove in 7/8 and a section of "Dark City, Dead Man" is in 5/4.
    • "Dark City, Dead Man" actually switches liberally between 5/4 and 6/4 in many parts of the song (although there are lengthy instrumental breaks in 6/4). It's difficult to keep track of all the time signature changes, which creates a very disorienting effect if you're trying to count beats.
    • Similarly "Inland Rain" is mostly in a triple meter of 3/4 or 6/4 depending on how one counts it, but has a section throwing in 7/4 bars.
  • Unplugged Version: "Heartbeats" is a piano version of "Marching to the Heartbeats" which Cult of Luna gave digitally to its fans for a few days to see how far the song could spread. There is also a stripped down version of "Passing Through" for the music video.
  • Wanderlust Song: Multiple on Somewhere Along the Highway.