Picks and Pans Review: Sonic Temple

updated 07/10/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/10/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

The Cult

Brace yourself. It's time for another dose of ripsnorting, elemental rock. High time, too, for more rude, aggressive guitar attacks that will slam you up against the wall like a Utah state trooper after martial law has been declared.

The Cult may be a trio, but it's not small change. It's no quarter asked, no quarter given from the raging opener "Sun King" to the closing squall of "Wake Up, Time for Freedom." The only respite is "Edie (Ciao Baby)," a memorial to tragic Andy Warhol protégée Edie Sedgwick. For this one number, the Cult puts aside its sledgehammers and picks up instead some hefty ball peens. In other words, it's a sensitive song, and it also happens to be the weakest track on the album. There's no mollycoddling after that.

Ian Astbury has a slurry voice very limited in range, but who cares? He sings it like he means it. Just listen to "American Horse," and you'll see that guitarist Billy Duffy has improved the quality of his solos astronomically since the group's last release. It's clear on "Automatic Blues" and other songs that this is one band that has spent time profitably listening to old Led Zeppelin albums. Yeah, the Cult only knows one rank mood. Want to make something of it? With all the wimp rock floating around today, Sonic Temple is a bracing tonic. (Sire/Reprise)

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