Sonic Temple

Ceremony Review

Released in September 1991, “Ceremony” meant the end of an era for The Cult. Down to the duo of Ian Astbury and Billy Duffy since bassist Jamie Stewart had departed after the “Sonic Temple Tour” ended in 1990, The Cult came back with this AOR-oriented album. It turned to be a good seller but neither the critics nor the diehard fans were very enthusiastic about it. I don’t know why. “Ceremony” showed another side of The Cult. It was produced by Richie Zito known as the producer of such AOR heroes Tyketto and Bad English, amongst others. The production was quite good, so was the sound. But “Ceremony” didn’t follow the success of “Sonic Temple”. It included more balladistic tunes than the previous album, as “Indian” and “Sweet Salvation”. It was definitely The Cult moving towards melodic hard-rock. Astbury and Duffy co-produced the album in the middle of an environment filled-up with cold tension, as Billy Duffy later explained. They hooked up with drummer Mickey Curry (who also had played drums on “Sonic Temple” and who was Bryan Adams drummer) and bassist Charley Drayton, a session player who had previously played in Iggy Pop’s “Brick by Brick”. Both producer Richie Zito and The Heartbreakers’ Benmont Tench played keys on the album. But one of the most important contributions to this album was Tommy Funderburk’s, vocalist of AOR bands Airplay, What If and King of Hearts.

Two singles were released: “Wild Hearted Son” and “Heart of soul”, the video of which was banned by BBC because it showed Astbury wearing a crown of thorns and pointing the lens with a gun.

For the world tour to follow (Ceremonial Stomp Tour 1991-1992) they hired ex-Little Angels drummer Michael Lee and ex-Lord Tracy bassist Kinley Wolfe, along with ex-Ozzy Osbourne keyboardist John Sinclair.

“Ceremony” is a very good album, indeed. It migh disappoint you if you’re looking for what somebody would call a “real” follow-up to “Sonic Temple”. The self-titled track is awesome, with a keyboard intro that lifts you up inmediately. “Earth Mofo” is possibly one of the strongest songs The Cult have ever recorded, along with “New York City” (of the previous “Sonic Temple”). “If” is just a beauty and “White” is the best moment in the entire album. “Bangkok Rain” riff’s reminds me of Scorpions early work. Just listen to it. Only if you’re open minded and, as a Cult fan, you should be. I mark this album at 8 out of 10.

—Alex Diez (Spain)