James "Perturbator" Kent and Cult of Luna are the masters of their respective worlds. Over the last decade, the French maestro has become the most expectation-breaking name in synthwave, transcending its ’80s video game aesthetic with metal and post-punk. Meanwhile, the Swedish sextet have affirmed themselves as post-metal’s biggest stars.
Seismic riffs, earth-quaking growls and brave collaborations with everyone from Julie Christmas to Colin Stetson have ensured they’re as blistering as they are forward-thinking. Eclecticism and violence are married in Final Light: Perturbator’s team-up with Cult of Luna singer/guitarist Johannes Persson.
The pair’s self-titled debut album is the perfect conglomerate between seemingly incompatible sounds. On its opening track, the insidious “Nothing Will Bear Your Name”, synths bubble to construct an arresting opening half. Then, release. Johannes’ roar strikes and guitar chords boom as computerised beats anchor the chaos.
“It Came with the Water” echoes Cult of Luna’s 2013 titan Vertikal, invoking images of an urban dystopia as its deep guitar melody grinds beneath sci-fi electronica. The title track’s distorted EDM beats, on the other hand, are all James "Perturbator" Kent, capable of invigorating the seediest of underground nightclubs. Both parties are clearly playing to their strengths – but for them to do so in such perfect harmony is, in itself, a genre-demolishing feat.
Lyrically, Final Light seethes with anger. “There was so much that I was so fucking pissed about,” Johannes explains. “Some of my friends were dealing with a poisonous person: a narcissistic, crazy person. I was walking around full of anger and hate, so I think that came out in those lyrics.” The tandem’s story began in 2019. Walter Hoeijmakers, the artistic director of the Netherlands’ lauded Roadburn festival, approached James "Perturbator" Kent with the opportunity of doing a commissioned piece with any musician of his choosing. As soon as the pair began work on their boundary-decimating songs, they knew that they had to be immortalised as an album.
“It was immediate,” states Perturbator. “It’s a project that I really want to share; it’s not only the fruit of a collaboration between me and one of my favourite musicians, but also very unique and once-in-a-lifetime.” They wrote and recorded together in Paris before the start of the pandemic. Covid, which postponed the Roadburn festival at which the band would have debuted, gave them time to perfect what they’d crafted.
Johannes recorded additional vocals at Cult of Luna’s resident studio in Umeå, Sweden, fully capturing the rage of his apocalyptically harsh voice.
Borders were built to be shattered. This is the sound of their destruction. Single-handedly, Final Light have birthed a new, bleak breed of experimental metal.
– Matt Mills, April 2022
Co-publishing with ORA Publishing