Choice Of Weapon

The Cult

Cooking Vinyl Records, 2012

http://www.cultcentral.com

REVIEW BY: Jeff Clutterbuck

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 09/16/2012

It is hard to avoid the sameness that encompasses mainstream rock ‘n’ roll these days. Sure, there are the bright spots, but when I catch a glimpse of what sells for the genre in the present day, it’s disappointing. There’s no danger, no excitement in what tops the charts. If one would take the top 50 singles off the iTunes charts, there would most likely be only a handful of songs that even come close to reminding you what rock can really do.

That word sameness is making its second appearance in a review from this critic in the last month and a half. It’s not often that I go back to the well to make a point, but the elements that make up a hit song in 2012 are used by many in the same way, in the same manner, for the same effect. It’s not terribly different for rock.

my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Choice Of Weapon is very different. Playing this album for the first time caused a reaction that I had not felt for a long time: “Wow, this is unusual.” There are very unique elements to the record that if not executed properly would make this album a disaster. With no prior knowledge of the band to go off, there were no guarantees that they had that capability.

The Cult is not particularly concerned with making sure every note is pitch perfect here; sections of the album are gloriously messy. Much of that has to do with the stylings of lead vocalist Ian Astbury. He stutters and spits out the lyrics in this over the top theatrical performance – at times I was reminded of Jim Morrison. There’s great power in Astbury’s performance, and his vocals were not what I expected in the slightest.

There’s Led Zeppelin, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and a hell of a lot of Iggy Pop jammed into this record, and that’s leaving others off the list. Those are not easy styles to mesh together, but The Cult does it with a “screw you” attitude that deflects criticism. Their roots as a punk band are very apparent and are at the core of what they do here. Punk definitely has a particular set of characteristics, but the most important component of the genre was attitude. You had to be mean, you had to be pissed off, you had to be violent. Choice Of Weapon is all those things.

But what you have to love most about this disc is the relentlessness of it.  The band does slow things down here and there, but the aural assault resumes quickly. “Honey From A Knife” is the opening track, and has my vote for best album opener of 2012. It perfectly sets up what you are going to hear for the rest of the record while throwing in amazing riffs and a chorus that makes you want to run through a brick wall. The band has many tricks up their sleeves from decades in the business, and they do not let them go to waste often.

Doing something the same way is not necessarily a terrible thing. In fact, doing something the same way often means the results should end up exactly as they were the first time. It’s the desire to do it that is where many artists lose me. Why not try something different? Yes, it may not work, but in music taking a chance has paid out in some pretty fine results, as we can see here.

Rating: B+

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© 2012 Jeff Clutterbuck and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Cooking Vinyl Records, and is used for informational purposes only.