Our top 10 Cult of Luna songs list digs deep into the music of a Swedish band whose sound is deeply rooted in post-metal and sludge metal influences. As a result, the band has often drawn comparisons to bands such as Isis and Neurosis. Cult of Luna has also shown some inclination to doom metal (especially its early recordings) and progressive metal influences. After quite a slow start, Cult of Luna gained momentum now commanding quite a share of post-metal/sludge metal fans for over two decades.
Cult of Luna’s Career Beginnings and Breakthrough
Cult of Luna’s formation was orchestrated by vocalist Klas Rydberg and guitarist Johannes Persson in 1998. Prior to the formation of Cult of Luna, the two were initially members of the defunct hardcore/metalcore band Eclipse. The duo added percussionist/guitarist Magnus Líndberg and guitarist Erik Olofsson to the band’s lineup in 1998. Fredrik Renström joined the band in 1999 as the band’s bassist serving for just some time before he was replaced by Axel Stattin in 2000. Also joining the band in 1999 was drummer Marco Hildén, who like Axel Stattin, served the band till 2002.
In 2000, Cult of Luna teamed up with the avant-garde sludge metal/doom metal act Switchblade to release a collaborative extended play entitled Switchblade/Cult of Luna. The EP featured a song, “Beyond Fate” by Cult of Luna. The band didn’t achieve much success either with this song or with the few subsequent album releases. It wasn’t until the issue of the fourth LP Somewhere Along the Highway that Cult of Luna gained massive critical acclaim and mainstream success in the post-metal/sludge metal scene.
Cult of Luna’s Album Releases over the Years
In September 2001, Cult of Luna issued its eponymous debut studio album through Rage of Achilles. The album was barely successful only featuring some musical gems such as “Sleep,” “The Revelation Embodied,” and “Dark Side of the Sun.” Eventually, Cult of Luna signed a recording deal with Earache Records where the members re-issued this album. Other notable acts that have issued records through Earache Records include At the Gates, Morbid Angel, Cathedral, and Napalm Death.
The Beyond, issued in 2002 through Earache Records, marked the band’s sophomore studio album. This post-metal/sludge metal album featured notable hits including “Arrival,” “Receiver,” “Circle,” and “The Watchtower.” Later in 2004, Cult of Luna issued its third studio album Salvation which was quite a breakthrough, telling of the band’s promising career. The album featured new members of the band’s lineup including bassist Andreas Johansson and drummer/percussionist Thomas Hedlund.
Hedlund is also a current member of the Swedish act Deportees and a touring/session player with the French pop rock band Phoenix. Salvation is home to some of the best Cult of Luna songs including “Leave Me Here,” “Waiting for You,” “Echoes,” and “Adrift.” While the album never made it to the mainstream charts, it served as a foundation for Cult of Luna’s later success.
In 2006, Cult of Luna issued Somewhere Along the Highway as its fourth studio album. Somewhere Along the Highway is a concept album with vocalist Klas Rydberg leading the Cult of Luna band members in expressing their thoughts in regard to lonesomeness. “Back to the Chapel Town,” “Marching to the Heartbeats,” “Finland,” and “Dim” are some of the most popular songs by Cult of Luna from the album. Somewhere Along the Highway was Cult of Luna’s first mainstream successful LP climbing to the fifty-ninth spot on the Swedish Albums Chart. The album also made it to the twenty-second spot on the UK Rock & Metal Albums Chart.
Eternal Kingdom, issued in 2008, marked the band’s fifth studio album. The album saw Cult of Luna still issue its usual blend of post-metal and sludge metal influences. Among the additional personnel featured on this album include David Sandström of the hardcore punk band Refused. “Ghost Trail,” “Curse,” “Eternal Kingdom,” and Owl Wood” are some of the best Cult of Luna songs from the album. Eternal Kingdom was fairly successful in the mainstream rising to the forty-sevenths spot on Swedish Albums Chart. The album was Cult of Luna’s final LP release through Earache Records.
In 2013, Cult of Luna issued its sixth studio album Vertikal through Indie Recordings. Vertikal saw the band give a blend of post-metal and progressive metal sounds. “Passing Through,” “In Awe Of,” “Mute Departure,” “Vicarious Redemption,” and “I: The Weapon” are the top Cult of Luna songs from Vertikal. Cult of Luna toured in the promotion of this album sharing different stages with the acts Katatonia, Intronaut, and Tesseract.
The album was Cult of Luna’s first release without vocalist Klas Rydberg and the last release with drummer Thomas Hedlund. Vertikal was a mainstream success, rising to the thirtieth spot on the Swedish albums Chart. The album also made it to the twenty-ninth spot on the UK Rock & Metal Albums Chart.
Cult of Luna would return in 2016 with Mariner, a collaborative album with former Battle of Mice and Made Out of Babies member Julie Christmas. Mariner saw Cult of Luna and Julie Christmas give us a blend of post-metal, sludge metal, and doom metal influences. The album was a mainstream success in Sweden, Belgium, Finland, and Switzerland. Mariner also made it to the sixteenth spot on the UK Rock & Metal Albums Chart. “A Greater Call,” “The Wreck of S.S. Needle,” and “Cygnus” are the best Cult of Luna songs from the LP.
A Dawn to Fear, issued in 2019, marked Cult of Luna’s seventh studio album. The album was issued through Metal Blade Records, once (or currently) home to acts such as The Black Dahlia Murder, Whitechapel, Amon Amarth, and As I Lay Dying. A Dawn to Fear was Cult of Luna’s first top-ten album on the UK Rock & Metal Albums Chart, peaking at the eighth spot. “Lay Your Head,” “The Silent Man,” and the album title track are the most popular songs by Cult of Luna from the LP.
In February 2022, Cult of Luna issued its eighth and most recent album The Long Road North. The album was also issued through Metal Blade Records, giving us a taste of the band’s post-metal, sludge metal, and progressive metal sound influences. With this album, Cult of Luna showcased their endured success in the music scene. The Long Road North is Cult of Luna’s highest-charting album on the UK Rock & Metal Albums Chart, rising to the fifth spot. “Cold Burn,” “An Offering to the Wild,” and “Into the Night” are some of the best Cult of Luna songs from the LP.
Cult of Luna’s Legacy
Cult of Luna has proved to be one of the most successful Swedish pot-metal acts. The band has often coupled its post-metal sound with sludge metal, progressive metal, and doom metal influences, often drawing comparisons to Isis and Neurosis. Over the years, Cult of Luna has shared the stage on worldwide tours with multiple artists including Brutus, Intronaut, Alcest, Emma Ruth Rundle, Tesseract, Svalbard, and Katatonia, to name a few. Here are the ten best Cult of Luna songs of all time.
# 10 – The Silent Man
Opening up our top 10 Cult of Luna songs list is the rip-roaring hit “The Silent Man.” The song serves as the album-opening track to the band’s seventh studio album A Dawn to Fear. Spanning slightly over ten minutes, “The Silent Man” is a haunting yet epic track often distinguished for its densely-packed crushing sludge metal-inflecting riffs. The stomping and dark delivery of this hit (especially on the vocals), makes it second to none of the tracks from the album A Dawn to Fear.
# 9 – Finland
Undoubtedly, the hit “Marching to the Heartbeats” does an incredible job introducing us to Cult of Luna’s excellence in the fourth studio album Somewhere Along the Highway. However, it is songs like “Finland” that stamp the album as a masterpiece. “Finland” is probably the most dynamic hit on this album having it ooze poignant yet harmonic and beautiful post-metal influences.
The song features some anthemic drum beats issued by none other than Hedlund Thomas, who also serves as the touring drummer of the band Phoenix. “Finland” also features a prodigious bass section which feels quite beguiling. Following up “Finland” on the album is the exceptional hit “Back to Chapel Town,” which unfortunately didn’t find a slot on our ten best Cult of Luna songs list.
# 8 – The Wreck of S.S. Needle with Julie Christmas
Cult of Luna’s collaboration with former Battle of Mice and Made Out of Babies member Julie Christmas is by far one of the most rewarding moves the band has ever made throughout its career. The spellbinding chemistry between the two legendary acts/artists is evident in all five tracks off their collaborative album Mariner. Our ten best Cult of Luna songs list reviews two songs classic hits from Mariner, starting with “The Wreck of S.S. Needle” as our ninth pick on the list.
The song’s instrumentation is exemplary with the ominous keyboard riffs from Kristian Karlsson stealing the show here. However, it is the solid musicianship of Julie Christmas that brands this hit a masterpiece. “The Wreck of S.S. Needle” has menacingly heavy instrumentation that brings out the band’s brilliance at blending post-metal, doom metal, and sludge metal influences.
#7- I: The Weapon
After a five years period without any new release, Cult of Luna came back stronger than ever issuing Vertikal as its sixth LP. The record proved to be the band’s strongest album of all time. Vertikal was a menacingly intriguing and powerful album providing Cult of Luna a perfect chance to take over the post-metal mantle from the then-defunct act Isis or even come closer to Neurosis’ impact in the post-metal scene.
“I: The Weapon” is our lowest-ranking hit off Vertikal on our best Cult of Luna songs list. Thanks to songs like “I: The Weapon” we can fully visualize Cult of Luna’s musical progression on Vertikal. The band showcases its charming artistry by striking a balance between its hard-hitting influences and sublime melodic inflections in this track.
#6 – Dark City, Dead Man
Number six on our ten best Cult of Luna songs list is the astounding hit “Dark City, Dead Man.” Despite being featured last on its parent album Somewhere Along the Highway, the song proves to be the most alluring cut off this record. “Dark City, Dead Man” opens with keyboard and guitar riffs that sound portentously dark. The song serves as a perfect climax to Somewhere Along the Highway, an album that introduced Cult of Luna to mainstream success in Sweden and the UK.
#5 – Passing Through
Once again, we pay homage to the band’s sixth studio album Vertikal where we find our fifth best Cult of Luna song, “Passing Through.” “Passing Through” possesses a spellbinding heaviness entwined in the dark melodies which feels a tad bit soulful (and emotive to some extent). The vocals in this hit are somehow clean albeit a tad bit tweaked. “Passing Through” features some of the most ominous guitar riffs. Befitting its melancholic feel and ominous guitar riffs is the song’s accompanying music video. The video was filmed at a Swedish twentieth-century psychiatric hospital.
#4 – Cold Burn
If we have to choose an emblematic hit to Cult of Luna’s endured success in the post-metal scene, then it would be “Cold Burn.” The song was issued on December 2021 as the lead track off the band’s most recent album The Long Road North. This flawless opener showcases the vivacious musicianship of the band members. Thundering drums, awe-inspiring rhythms, and interlacing guitar riffs served in the song made “Cold Burn” an instant fan-favorite track.
While the instrumentation on this song takes the day, we cannot forget the impactful growls of Johannes Persson enough to stamp this hit as a masterpiece. Matching the band’s musicianship on “Cold Burn” is Ted Jensen who does a splendid job as the mastering engineer. Ted has also worked with other reputable artists including James Taylor, Green Day, Residente, and Norah Jones to name a few.
#3- Vicarious Redemption
Spanning almost nineteen minutes is the brilliant track “Vicarious Redemption.” This epic cut has been cited by multiple critics and fans alike to be the lynchpin of Cult of Luna’s work and musicianship on the band’s sixth studio album Vertikal. “Vicarious Redemption” has its groundwork founded on outstanding instrumentation that spews the band’s love for post-metal influences.
In fact, the song features minimal yet haunting vocals delivered occasionally throughout the song. The song’s intro spans over seven minutes slowly immersing its listeners musically into slightly ambient sound spaces before the vocals and instrumentation turn into a slightly ominous affair. Justin Broadrick of Godflesh and Jesu issued a remix of this hit on the EP Vertikal II. This monstrous pick will certainly deliver musical frissons to post-metal lovers.
#2- A Greater Call with Julie Christmas
“A Greater Call” takes us back to Cult of Luna and Julie Christmas’ excellence at the collaborative album Mariner. The song serves as the lead track of this collaborative album welcoming us to the Sci-Fi vibes of this LP’s concept/themes of space exploration. “A Greater Call” was penned by Johannes Persson who also plays the guitars and makes insanely alluring growling vocals in the song.
Like “The Wreck of S.S. Needle,” “A Greater Call” begins with a slow-burning melodious instrumental intro running for almost three minutes. However, the song gets a tad bit menacing after the intro with its punching doom metal-inflecting growls from guitarist Johannes Persson. Johannes’ growls and Julie’s vocals combine to yield fascinating vocal harmonies.
#1- Leave Me Here
We earlier mentioned that Cult of Luna’s career rose to mainstream success and massive critical acclaim after the band issued its fourth studio album Somewhere Along the Highway. There is no doubt about that albeit, several songs from the band’s third studio album proved to have paved way for the band’s later success in the band’s fourth studio album. “Adrift,” “Waiting for You, and “Leave Me Here” are among the trailblazing songs off Somewhere, the latter surprisingly rising atop our best Cult of Luna songs list.
“Leave Me Here” screamed for attention from post-metal aficionados — The song saw Cult of Luna compared to acts such as Neurosis, Pelican, and Isis. This mid-tempo hit showcases Cult of Luna’s love for beautiful melodies and crushingly heavy music. “Leave Me Here,” a riff-based monstrous hit, also gives us a taste of Klas Rydberg’s striking metal vocals! The accompanying music video of “Leave Me Here” premiered on MTV2 and Fuse TV.
Top 10 Cult of Luna Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2022
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