Swedish post-death metal band, Cult of Luna have recently traversed the venues of Europe, taking in Prague, Berlin, Munich, Vienna, Paris and more, and via a new 45-min doc, we are warmly invited to jump on the tour bus with them and enjoy the ride.
Full Moon is a beautifully cinematic experience, opening with the band onstage performing the epic “Cold Burn.” The images are pin sharp, and the lighting, a piercing silver/grey hue, raising the mood above your average grimy metal promo. The music is heavy, no doubt about that, but crisp and intelligent. Post-death metal may be hard to describe, but compared with other bands of the DM genre, it makes sense when listening.
In this current trend of self-produced mini-docs, and even full-length ventures, there is a tendency for bands to repeatedly discuss how much better their sound is after years of practice and how grateful they are to be playing “Outside of their hometowns” (voc. Johannes Persson), and this film is no exception. Of their success on a wider scale, Persson says, “I would summarise it as surreal.” Modest to a fault.
There is also the running theme of Brotherhood, or as drummer Thomas Hedlund describes it, “A journey of salvation and love,” and we see this through much hugging and kissing of the band and tour crew.
What interested me in the backstage footage was the image of the band. Incredibly clean cut, and not adhering to the expected tattooed, pierced, metal tee-shirted stereotypes that the genre usually brings. Hedlund looks more suited to playing in Bloc Party than a DM band, and his sporting of a Daft Punk tee-shirt suggests that being in a heavy band does not mean your own tastes have to exclusively reflect that.
Performance footage is at the fore in this film, and we are treated to full-length workouts rather than the usual fragmented clips. “The Silent Man” is a lengthy example of how death metal does not have to be a full-on aural assault, and the proggy keyboards are euphoric and even melodic.
The intro to “Blood Upon Stone” is quite beautiful and meditative, and I almost didn’t want the vocals to kick in. Persson’s guttural cries are about the only traditional element here, and whilst they do not ruin the performance, there is a clash of moods that, for me, doesn’t quite gel. The studio sessions show even more how intricate the compositions are when played at a muted level, often sounding like The Cure in the ’90s.
The band are aware of this difference that they have to other DM bands; keyboard player Kristian Karlsson describes this clearly, “Even though we are a hard heavy band, it’s so nice to see that people sometimes just close their eyes, and are just in the moment, and not just standing there raising their hands and giving metal horns and being super-metal.”
For me, Karlsson sums up what I have just been watching perfectly. Cult of Luna are perhaps a sound entry point for the DM un-initiated with their ethereal soundscapes, early Genesis keyboard patterns and driving drum/guitar attacks. They are so less obvious than their contemporaries and are much better than they perhaps realize.
Full Moon is on YouTube now, demanding a listen. Don’t be late on that toilet break, or the coach will leave without you. More info here: https://www.cultofluna.com.
Producer: Cult of Luna
Starring: Cult of Luna
Production Company: RED CRK
Distributed by: RED CRK
Release Date: May 28, 2023
Run Time: 46:38