The Cult are one of the most iconic rock bands of all time. Formed in Bradford in 1983, this British band used to go by the name Death Cult (which related to the name of Ian Astbury’s former band, Southern Death Cult). However, they changed the name in 1984 to a simpler name, and one with less preconceptions, and that’s how the Cult was officially formed.
They released their first album, Dreamtime, in 1984, and it was a massive success at home in the UK. For a new band, they were ahead of themselves and already on the edge of international success by the time Love was released in 1985. This album changed everything for them, bringing them the worldwide recognition they deserved, and also leaving them with a unique style – which was sorely needed after the Duran Duran-esque costumes during Dreamtime.
The whole album is filled with killer tracks, but the one that everyone knows is She Sells Sanctuary. It’s an iconic song, and you can still find it blasted on radio stations today. The beginning builds up slowly, and it’s an intro that everyone knows by heart – and recognised the second the first beat plays. The words are catchy, with repetition that works without becoming overused or tiresome.
Rain is another track that everyone knows. The words don’t change, but the sexy vocals and the smooth guitar playing are what makes this song another one of their classics. Said to be inspired by a Hopi rain dance, it would not be the first time that Astbury has leaned towards Native American culture. It’s a song that is beautiful, powerful, and respectful of its origins – for the lead singer’s love of the culture has never been distasteful nor has it been detrimental.
There are a number of tracks where you really hear the passion in his voice, aside from the two previously mentioned. For an adrenaline pumping track, Revolution, Love, and Phoenix will get the blood moving through your body and your head nodding along to the beat. This album really gives you a feel for the versatility that Astbury’s voice has, allowing the listener to experience an unbelievable range of high tunes and low, melodic, rhythms.
The guitar work and drums are just as mesmerising as the vocals, and you can hear the diversity of the instrumental range in each track. Hollow Man and Nirvana are the best examples of the perfect musical execution and performance that the band is capable of. They work in perfect harmony with each other, and you can often tell how close a band is by how well their music blends – and they are always faultlessly synchronised.
There’s nothing wrong with this album, and is it easy to see how the Cult became an international success after this hit the shelves. It was a breakthrough moment for this band, and stands (even to this day) as one of the most iconic rock albums of the 80s. With a special edition released in 2009, you get a whole load of bonus tracks with the new version. Either one is well worth picking up.