REVIEW: The Cult – Weapon of Choice (2012)

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“My wild Indian heart was pounding, I was runnin’ so fast” — Ian Astbury

The Cult Weapon

THE CULT – Weapon of Choice (2012 limited edition iTunes exclusive)

Yeah, I haven’t even gotten around to reviewing The Cult’s excellent Choice of Weapon album yet.  (Nutshell review:  I love it.)   I did review the EP Capsule 1, glowingly so for the music, so you know where I stand as far as The Cult goes!

So what is this Weapon of Choice thing then?  This is an early take on Choice of Weapon, produced by Chris Goss, before Bob Rock came on board to help them finish the record.  Think of it as a demo version, perhaps, or maybe a latter-day version of the Peace album.  The Cult themselves refer to this as a “prequel” album.

Weapon of Choice was available on iTunes only (no physical release) for a limited time only.  If you don’t have it now, you won’t be able to buy it anymore.  As usual, I wish there was a physical release.  Thankfully, the music itself is so strong that it helps compensate for the lack of packaging and credits.

These are early, unpolished versions of the same songs, with different (presumably working) titles.  Therefore, “Blackie” = “A Pale Horse”.  “Elemental” = “Elemental Light”, and so on and so forth.

The-Cult-2012 (1)If you’ve heard the Choice of Weapon album, then you already know these are good songs, and they were good songs at this stage too.  What Bob Rock did is add a layer of polish to them, some additional thump, and more hooks.  That’s what Bob is good it, love him or hate him.  If you haven’t heard Choice of Weapon, by all means, get out there and get it!  What’s cool about it, and this, is that The Cult have revisited their ability to write quintessential Cult riffs, while still pushing forward into new boundaries.  Plus I think Ian’s voice has aged remarkably well.  As he’s gotten older and more grizzled, his voice has acquired more character.

I do prefer the hookier Choice of Weapon versions of these songs, but this is an excellent companion piece.  A little rougher around the edges.  A little more live sounding.

Highlights for me:

  • The awesome “Supreme” (= an early version of “Honey From A Knife” without the gang vocals or piano)
  • “The Bones” (= “For the Animals”)
  • “Decado” (= “Lucifer”, ironically there is another song on Weapon of Choice called “Lucifer”)
  • “Gibraltar” (= “The Wolf” with a slightly altered riff)
  • “Militant” (= a slightly different arrangement of the driving “Amnesia”)

The Cult are back.  The Cult are cool.  Just wish there was a physical release!

3.5/5 stars

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15 comments

  1. Ok, Mike, this is bad, real bad. I TOTALLY forgot about this special “iTunes Only” release, because literally anything that has that word (iTunes) attached to it makes me GAG.

    Apple is a huge part of my musical enjoyment here in the 2010’s…a MacBook Pro with a removable hard drive stuffed and yawning with over 700GB of uncompressed physical CD’s, iPhone, iPod Touch, 160GB iPod Classic, (and an absolutely amazing pair of IEM’s from WESTONE to send my music into my ears on BLAST…those cheap, white earbuds have never hung from my ears!) and an iPad where I type this reply. Needless to say, after much resistance, I gave into the Apple wave…enjoying music greatly, but this is where I am at today, using iTunes to manage a huge collection grown sprawling with years and genres.

    But one thing I CAN’T STAND is music downloaded from the iTunes Store. It is available only in a compressed format of Apple’s discretion, and though I am no Fidelity Freak/Geek, I hear that gauzy haze compression brings, and hate it. Whatever these “digital booklets/artwork” they claim you get, I still would much rather have a physical disc, digipak or jewel case, and artwork/booklet. I never downloaded illegally, and really get ZERO enjoyment from iTunes downloads. It feels so disconnected, and I am disgusted that, for so many people, music is now just disposable entertainment. Though the death of CD seems a very real threat, I am in complete denial, and will go out and buy CD’s on new release Tuesday whenever is possible.

    Long and short of it, I love The Cult and loved “Choice Of Weapon” upon release, and always have been a huge Chris Goss/Masters Of Reality fan. I was excited to hear about “Weapon Of Choice”, though put off by the iTunes exclusivity. Kinda forgot about it, expecting to see a physical release. Now, like you said, it’s gone from the iTunes Store and no physical release in sight. Your review has me full with regret, and curses for that damn iTunes Store.

    Always thanks for the great work and for reading my Apple Love/Hate Rant!

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    1. Hey thanks a lot for that comment! Me personally, I don’t own anything Apple (just bought the new Blackberry) but I have nothing against their iPads and iPhones and so on. I have played with them and think they are great products.

      We are on the same wavelength as far as iTunes goes though. If only this were available on a physical release of some kind. I would buy vinyl in a heartbeat. There are loads of bands who have lots of iTunes-only releases, from Kiss to the Black Crowes, and I never feel like I’m getting my money’s worth. I have to go to the trouble of burning the music to CD, printing out some kind of cover to label the CD, and that’s on my time and my dime. Yet I paid almost the same price for the music I would for a CD in a store. Something’s not right about that.

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  2. Mike, let me reiterate by saying “…bad, real bad” I was referring not to your review or the music, but the fact I missed that release!

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    1. I really like the new one, and I hope I’m still playing it a year from now. Another great one by the Cult was Beyond Good and Evil, with Matt Sorum on drums. That was one heavy album. Pure metal Cult.

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  3. Love the reviews here!! After somehow forgetting about The Cult, I’ve recently “rediscovered” their music and have been in pure musical Heaven the last couple of weeks! I missed out on this and am frantically searching the web for it. I tried to buy it from Amazon.com/UK, but can’t purchase it. If someone could get me a zip file of this record, it would be greatly appreciated. I have loads of stuff to trade. Thanks! The Cult rule!!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh yeah, listened to Hidden City last night. Fabulous album! Sonic Temple was my first Cult record back in 1989. For some reason I stopped paying attention until now.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Sonic Temple was my first too. I was interested in them after Electric, but ST was the first one I owned. I skipped Ceremony but I’ve been solidly back on board after that. I think Beyond Good & Evil is another classic you should check out! Bob Rock producing, Matt Sorum on drums.

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