“Somewhere Along The Highway” is recognized as the magnum opus of Swedish Sludge Metal band Cult Of Luna. Although an album like “Salvation”, which was the band’s previous effort, would be a good competitor to the honorable title, this fourth album showed a quality that “Salvation” didn’t have in great abundance: a distinct, extremely original sound that can only be of COL. Turns out in the end that “Somewhere Along The Highway” is not only the best Cult Of Luna LP so far, it is also THE Cult Of Luna album by definition.
This is one of those albums in which every song stands out for being different from the rest of the tracks, in some form or the other, and one of those albums that has an extremely peculiar structure. There are as usual strong, heavy moments alternated with softer ones, but there is a greater sense of dynamism and interplay than in what was heard in “Salvation”, making it an even more elaborate listen. In its more atmospheric moments, the music brings to life feelings of loneliness and despair, without ever being depressing, almost as if it were an album that has accepted its solitude long ago, and is simply manifesting it to an audience.
From the syncopated claps that begin “Finland”, the second track of the album, the listener already familiar with the band’s previous work notices the change in direction COL has faced, and appreciates how high the level of finesse the band has reached in both production and song-writing. This song might just be the best thing Cult Of Luna has ever done, and this is just starting the whole experience. “Back From Chapel Town” is another excellent track, with a handful of smooth transitional moments and an explosive middle piece. “And With Her Came The Birds” is the song that separates the two halves of the album, a tense, quiet track that however unveils a sense of beauty Cult Of Luna probably never have shown before.
Now the second half of the album is inferior to the amazing first half, but it has the advantage of having ” Dark City, Dead Man”, probably the most well-arranged and structured song the band has recorded so far, extending across a impressing arch of fifteen minutes.
The so-called Atmospheric Sludge Metal/Post-Metal movement owes a lot to this album. It’s one that many can find themselves loving even though not necessarily being fans of either the band or the genre. Calling it a landmark in 21st century Metal music would probably be close enough to enclose its stellar value with one sentence.