Do you ever hear a record and know right off the bat that it is going to be one of your top five of the year? Sure, you might have a few albums tossed in there that will be coming out from your favorite bands, but every once in a while a project comes up that immediately grabs your heart and proves to you that there is still a lot of exciting music left to be created. Such was the case with Mariner. Though I had been a fan of Julie Christmas's previous work, I don't think I ever really dug Cult Of Luna as much as I should have, it simply wasn't for me. With this record the two artists come together to create something otherworldly and truly transcendent. It stands as an evolution on all post metal that has come before and an indication of the great things to come from this music. With delicate vocals counterbalancing harsh soundscapes, and artful songwriting guiding you through, Mariner is an album that is simply not to be fucked with.
In many ways the combination of sounds on this record is a match made in heaven. Sometimes with these types of collaborative records the bands sound too similar for it to be interesting, or the contrary occurs and they are simply not compatible. This is not the case with Cult Of Luna and Julie Christmas. Instead, their styles feel perfectly complimentary, Julie Christmas's angelic vibes are the perfect padding to the frequently monochromatic tones of Cult Of Luna. The other thing that really gets me about this record is that there are passages that could be ripped straight from either artists catalog, but seems to somehow work in the larger scheme that they have managed to conjure up on Mariner. The beauty of the album lies in its ability to play off of contrasts. That seems to be the entire crux of the songwriting, using the massive sounds of Cult Of Luna in opposition to the much more intimate craft of Julie Christmas. It's easy to get lost in this record, far too easy in fact. These bands have both managed to cultivate a sound that is absolutely unique, and when they come together, the overwhelming beauty of their craft is insane.
Normally, it's around this point in the review where I start pointing out the flaws in the record, just to prove I'm not some nerd obsessed with dorky bands. But the fact of the matter is, I literally can't find anything wrong with Mariner it is quite possibly perfect in every way, shape and form. This is an album that guides you from start to finish on the backs of monster riffs, gargantuan vocals and a sense of sonic superiority that is going to leave you in awe. Cult Of Luna and Julie Christmas have just unleashed some of the best work of their respective careers here, and this is an album that I can guarantee will stand the test of time. Mariner is one of the best albums of 2016, and after just one spin, you know it.