FDF Volume 2 Issue 174 - The Cult - Ceremony
Album - Ceremony
Artist - The Cult
Key Players - Billy Duffy - guitar. Ian Astbury - vocals
Produced By - Richie Zito (co produced by Billy Duffy and Ian Astbury)
Release Date - September 10, 1991
What caused me to blow off the dust? - I'd consider myself to be a pretty big Cult fan. The collection has Southern Death Cult, Death Cult, Astbury solo records, imports etc. There are records that I always go to with them. Their "Love" album might be a top 5 album of all time for me. This record I am not sure I've listened to in full since the first few days it came out. This is/was just one record I never think to check out.
Overview - Formed in 1983 the two core members of Ian and Billy have seen their fair share of ups and downs. Going from underground icons to what many categorized as a heavy metal alternative band the Cult have been keeping fans happy for the duration. As "The Cult" this would be the bands fifth full length studio album. They were coming off the heels of two of their larger/popular records (Electric and Sonic Temple) and the fans and critics were ready for something to really keep the momentum going. The albums timing was poor as grunge music was beginning a strong foothold and Astbury and Duffy were having issues as well. The album would also suffer some controversy as the photo on the album cover was not properly credited or the person compensated. The band would release another record after this, but take a break for a few years to refresh and get inspired once more.
FDF Comments (aka the songs) - A quiet, swirling guitar and some tambourine shake open "Ceremony" before the big guitar chords from Duffy come over the top. The drums clash around the cymbals and the song takes a good minute before the entire band comes in. Astbury sings the title with his god like vocals. I've always been a fan of his vocals, granted over the last few years he has lost some, but a little studio tweaking does the trick. The drums hit hard (provided by Mickey Curry on the record), he hits them and Duffy blasts the quick run of solos whenever space allows. The interesting part is there is a long guitar solo over the last run of the chorus, but Duffy had sort of been doing this all along you suddenly realize "he's been soloing for a bit". A pretty strong album opener. A track the band will perform live to this day is "Wild Hearted Son". It opens with some Native American song/dance before the guitar begins. Astbury is right with Duffy at the outset and he opens up vocally very strong. We get the big wall of guitar riffs before the full band locks into the driving 4/4 beat. It is a pretty straight forward rock song, would have fit nicely on the "Sonic Temple" album as well as it has the feel of their hit "Firewoman". We keep the driving rock tempo on "Earth Mofo" which showcase once more the hard hitting drum work of Curry. The bass is pushed up in the mix as well and rumbles along with the drum. Duffy seems to be locked in to a 3-4 chord phrase here and he is just gunning in. The song is about as fast a song as you'd ever hear from the band and it has some rock solid bottom too it as well. Acoustic guitars are brought out for "White" and the band brings the tempo down, seemingly, until the 45 second mark before they bring it back in full. It is not a power ballad, but its not a heavy rocker for the duration either. This is one of the first songs on the record that got me thinking it is just "too long". Not sure why I feel that way since Duffy has a great solo for the final few minutes and the band seems to be clicking well, it just seems "overdone" for some reason. We hear piano at the start of "If" and it remains just the piano and Astbury and remains as such until we get the full band treatment once more. Once again, Duffy gets the tail end of song solo, that is strong but falls victim to being faded out. Wonder where this could have gone. With a song title "Full Tilt" you get a single guitar on the intro before it is over dubbed and the drums come in. It is a driving song, but not as "full tilt" as the song title would suggest. It fits well on the record, but is no "quicker" than others. The band experiments with some odd time signatures, and instrumental break downs. The band really seems to go full tilt at the end, and it feels a long time coming. "Heart of Soul" is another song that uses the acoustic guitar at the intro with then an electric guitar to accent it. It has the same feel as the prior track "White" with the big drums coming in and a rock ballad but not rock ballad feel. Astbury is in fine voice and seems to feed off the guitar work, billowing as much and as often as he can. The band mixes good tempos on this and allows the band to shine and then even allow the quiet parts to speak loudly as well. "Bangkok Rain" returns to the big wall of sound from earlier picks on the record. It sounds like a Cult song if you catch my drift. A cello and acoustic guitar are the instruments of focus as "Indian" begins. The same run of guitar and cello loops for the first 45 seconds of the song before Astbury comes in. As the chorus comes in Astbury really pushes himself vocally. The song is not overly interesting but shows the band can change direction and adapt to that change well. "Sweet Salvation" also opens with acoustic guitar and is a more "full band" version of the prior song. It could easily fall in to the power ballad genre. There are big soaring female vocals assisting in the chorus. The record closes with "Wonderland". Astbury begins the track with more of a spoken word feel to his vocal delivery. The buzzy guitar starts up and the drum tempo falls to a simple 4/4 time. Duffy continues to flash the big guitar riffs, and tosses in solos whenever he can. This happens a few times, but it is always welcome. A strong album closer.
Where are they now? - Ian and Billy are still perform live together. Astbury has been quoted as saying the band didn't have any plans to hit the studio since the music business has changed and there is less focus on albums as a whole. The two took to the road in 2009 to perform the Love album in full and then mix in some big hits. Hopefully the band finds the outlet to get new music out.
FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) - Four times I have been able to see the Cult. The first time was July 25, 1989 at the Centrum in Worcester, MA opening for Metallica. You read that right, Metallica. The opening slot was a thrill, we got down to the floor off to one side and caught the last 2-3 songs from there, but left the venue before Metallica even hit the stage. Looking back of course I wish we stayed, but I didn't drive. The second time was 10 years later on August 2, 1999 at Avalon in Boston. The band had broken up, taken a break, reformed..you name it so it was great to see them again. November 9, 2006 a good buddy got us VIP treatment at the Hampton Beach Casino and Ballroom in Hampton New Hampshire. You can read the review I did here. The last time was September 12, 2009 at the House of Blues in Boston. The band did "Love" in full and I had a great time with some like minded long time friends and fans. Again, if you are in to such things here is the review I did for that one.
FDF Overall Take - As indicated I've been a fan of their work for a long long time. Sure, they've missed at times but there is no reason to not have a least one Cult record in your collection, even the best of collections will have you wondering what else the band has done.
Official U.S. site is here. One of the best, most complete fan sites is called "Cult Central" and you can find it here
If you want to buy the record, here is a good spot.
Regarding the Mp3's, I am still a little nervous to post them here (its only been three weeks since they have been tearing mp3 blogs down). Anyway, if you want to check something out, shoot an email to laokas2002 at yahoo dot com and I'll fire 1-2 mp3s from this record your way (or give you a link).
Thanks for reading.