Sonic Temple

Ian Astbury - Metal Masters CD Review

Review By: Steve Blaze

Ian Astbury, lead singer for the Cult, has just released his solo album entitled “Spirit\Light\Speed.” For those of you who are fans of the Cult’s raw, guitar driven assault, it may take a few listens to get comfy with this disc. But those who love Ian’s passionate, unique vocals will be totally pleased. This album experiments with samples, programmed drums, ambient noises, and keyboards melting together with raw electric guitar and a touch of the acoustic on several ballads.

The first 2 tracks ‘Back on Earth’ and ‘High Time Amplifier’ are pushed by heavy dance beat grooves and electrically charged earthy vocals. Ian sings optimistically about Mother Earth and the possibility of peace and happiness through union with our planet and each other. His sensitive side emerges with ‘Devil’s Mouth’, a mid-tempo acoustic ballad in which he sings “There’s a devil in your mouth, but an angel in your heart..”

Other standout tracks include the slow dirty beat of ‘Metaphysical Pistol’ with its Lou Reed-ish vocals and a feel of an intoxicating stroll down the back alleys of New York City. Tracks ‘The Witch’ and ‘It’s Over’ are reminiscent of earlier Cult along the lines of “Electric” and “Sonic Temple.” ‘It’s Over’ may be my fave, with it’s groovy, clean guitar breaking into a heavy wah-wah riff providing the bed for Ian’s soaring vocals. The next 2 cuts ‘El Che/Wild Like A Horse’ and ‘Tyger’ are similar in style and lyrical approach. Mid-tempo semi-ballads about the black and white sides of a beautiful woman, cunning yet exquisite, dirty yet pristine. He seems to be entranced by the fallen angel syndrome.

On the whole this album honestly took a few listens to get a grip on. But don’t all great records? Ian’s vocals are the shining point, still vibrato enhanced, passionate, and classy. I recommend this as an album to taste and chew on a bit at a time to truly savor it, and a must for fans of Ian and the Cult.