Cult Of Luna – Eviga Riket
Cult Of Luna have taken a big risk here, funding this odd release themselves. The fascinating backstory of last album, the excellent Eternal Kingdom, has led to the Anders Teglund penning a short story based around the same diary that led to the album's creation. Eviga Riket is a hardbound book with accompanying audiobook dvd; a tale that begins a horror and descends into fantasy, interspersed with musical passages by the band as it plays out the ravings of madman or misunderstood victim, Holger Nilsson.
The story is engaging, a little clumsy perhaps in its translation, but all the better for its unsettling nature, opting for being disturbing rather than going for the cheap shocks and gore that mars the horror genre. The result is somewhat of a nightmarish fairy tale; one which smoothly transitions from reality into utter batshit craziness. A section where our protagonist becomes trapped in the area surrounding his home is well written, conveying the disquieting confusion as wherever he runs, he ends up returning to his dilapidated home, and the death of a child is dealt with skilfully.
However, the musical passages jar; no matter how subtle the fades in and out, they detract from the impact of the story's delivery, especially when they take over to mark the barrier between sections of the tale. Nilsson behaves much as you'd expect a horror protagonist – by putting himself into situations no real person would: "Hey, I'm trapped in a limbo that I can't escape from, but there's a mysterious fire in the distance... I'll just go towards it. It's not like it'll be surrounded by dancing beasts... oh, it is." But then, it's worth remembering that this is allegedly influenced by the diary of a madman.
As with many audio-books, having a decent reader is a must, and Anna Guthrie serves the English side well (Our Swedish isn't too hot, so we can't really comment!), but when it comes to speaking as the Capercaillie King, the different voice she puts on is nothing short of hilarious, and smashes the atmosphere built by the previous hour. If you remember a certain eighties fantasy, you'll keep wanting her to shout "WILLOW!" [Seminal 80's fantasy flick with Warwick Davis and Val Kilmer - Ed] Sadly, it doesn't happen, and the remainder of the tale is tougher to sit through.
This is a thoroughly admirable idea, but – far more so than their music – it is not for everyone. Their music is far more unsettling, far more powerful, and of far better quality. So while it's good to see them expanding their art, it's a new album we're looking forward to.