Following on from the success of Cult of Luna’s 2019’s A Dawn to Fear and the 2021 EP, The Raging River comes their latest studio album The Long Road North. Opening with the rhythmic Cold Burn, this album marks the end of the musical journey the band began with A Dawn to Fear. The first track undulates between different movements and soaring arrangements and I have to say it is at its absolute best when viewed with the epic video that accompanies it. Fans should definitely keep an eye out for the forthcoming digital videogame experience when it is released as it will allow you to step into the digital world created to accompany this track.

The Silver Arc ebbs and flows with its driving heavy passages and lighter breaks with the vocal line shredding through it all as it builds to a crescendo. Beyond I features the first of several guest artists and collaborations on this album with guest vocals from Swedish musician and voice actress Mariam Wallentin lending her talents to this stripped down, soulful offering.

An Offering to the Wild is a complicated, multi-layered affair that clocks in as one of the longest tunes on the album at 12:44 but certainly doesn’t feel anything like that long, as the shifts in tone and texture keep it fresh all the way to its thunderous end. It also features contributions from guest musician and composer Colin Stetson. This is followed up with the thoughtful Into The Night with its softer vocals and guitar arpeggios giving way to the pulsating, rhythmic Full Moon.

Title track The Long Road North is a slow build of a soundscape that kicks into a dark and ponderous middle section before breaking out into contrasting phrases between the strings, guitars, percussion and vocals, eventually unifying for a final epic third movement. Blood Upon Stone features guitar contributions from Phoenix members, Christian Mazzalai and Laurent Brancowitz. This clocks in as one of the longer songs on the album at 11:39 but is also, in my opinion, one of the most complex tunes on the album with sudden changes in its very complicated arrangements handled almost effortlessly. Final track, Beyond II, co-written by Colin Stetson, rounds the album out on a melodic, soaring track that builds to a head and then finishes the album in quiet contemplation.

An incredible album written and produced at a time where such things have been hampered by the global situation. This reviewer certainly can’t wait to see tracks from this one live when the band get out on tour again later in the year.