By Dr. Abner Mality

Post-metal, also known as slowcore, is not quite as prominent a genre as it was 10 years ago or so, but it’s still around. And so is Cult of Luna, who are one of the archetypal bands of the style. My relationship with them has been pretty rocky over the years, as they’ve produced some pretty boring and overindulgent stuff. But they’ve had some strong material, too, and on “Mariner”, they add the female vocals of Julie Christmas to their traditional sound to spice things up.

Ms. Christmas has lent her dulcet tones to avant-garde bands like Battle of Mice and Made Out of Babies over the years. Her singing puts a whole new shine on Cult of Luna’s material…she can be breathy and sweet or bring a hard intensity to the song at hand. When paired with the usual loud roaring vocals from the Luna guys, it tends to make things more interesting and varied. She was a very good choice for this project.

“Mariner” contains just five tunes and they are all pretty much the expected style of Cult of Luna…somber and restrained melodies that burst into huge walls of guitar distortion and bellowing howls. I’ve never been a great fan of the style and “Mariner” won’t change that, but I must say, you won’t hear a better or more expressive example of post-metal than this. The production is exquisite and the songs avoid the worst pitfalls of the style. If you’re a fan of this type of metal, this comes highly recommended and even open minded outsiders can definitely take a chance on it.