Feature: A Brief History Of The Cult


Johnathan Ramsay takes a look back at the history of one of UK’s most impactful rock bands for GNE, before their special one-off UK headline show at Sage Gateshead on the 26th of May…

Formed in 1983 by vocalist Ian Astbury and guitarist Billy Duffy, The Cult emerged out of Bradford as one of England’s leading heavy metal revival bands. The Cult, unsurprisingly, quickly gained a cult following in the UK. Their unique sound took the pseudo-mysticism and Native American fascination of The Doors. This, combined with the three-chord punch of AC/DC and edged off with flourishes of post-punk goth rock, was enough to capture the imagination of the country.

The Cult knew from the start that they’d constantly need to evolve their sound to secure longevity in the music industry. Mid-eighties singles like the classic ‘She Sells Sanctuary’ became instant hits in the UK. It wasn’t until the release of their seminal hard-rock album ‘Sonic Temple’ (1989) that the band broke through in the US. The album achieved The Cult’s highest ever US chart position, peaking at #10, giving birth to some of the band’s most iconic songs, like ‘Fire Woman’, ‘Sun King’, ‘Edie (Ciao Baby)’, and ‘Sweet Soul Sister’. ‘Sonic Temple’ reached Platinum status in 1993, solidifying it as the band’s seminal release. This year marks the 30th anniversary of this classic album, making The Cult’s upcoming performance at The Sage that much more special.

Following their break-up in 1995, The Cult later reunited and released their seventh studio album ‘Beyond Good and Evil’ in 2001. With the band moving into the new millennium, Astbury and Duffy recognised the need to evolve their sound and experiment further. This resulted in their heaviest record to date, heavy-metal riffs took the forefront alongside Astbury’s powerfully commanding cadence and infectiously crafted hooks.

Six years later The Cult followed up with their eighth studio album ‘Born Into This’, harking back to their post-punk roots without compromising the matured grit of Astbury’s irresistible hard rock vocals. Named iTunes “Rock Album of the Year”, 2012’s ‘Choice of Weapon’ was The Cult’s greatest commercial success since 2001’s ‘Beyond Good and Evil’.

The Cult

In 2016 The Cult released their latest album titled ‘Hidden City’. Having cultivated an eclectic sound over the band’s 33 year tenure, ‘Hidden City’ acted as a tour-de-force of the band’s much celebrated history, touching on each of their unique sonic incarnations. Astbury’s thundering baritone remains constant throughout the project, giving the album a cohesive feel despite the various influences affecting the sound.

Despite numerous changes in personnel over the band’s 36 year existence, Ian Astbury and Billy Duffy have managed to achieve incredible longevity in the music industry due to The Cult’s ability to evolve sonically over the years. Not to mention’s Astbury’s unflinching vocal ability that hasn’t withered over time but in-fact aged like a fine, hard-hitting wine. The Cult are a band that still remain as relevant as ever, their musical back catalogue being one of the most dynamic and long enduring that British rock music has ever seen.




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