The Cult found themselves enveloped in a wave of expectations as they entered the studio in September of 1988. Their previous album “Electric” had been a surprise hit and subsequently earned them praise with the hard rock crowd starved for guitar licks from a Marshall turned up to 11. Interestingly, “Electric” had left fans of 1985’s “Love” unsatisfied and wanting more of Billy Duffy’s spacey, flanged guitar parts and Ian Astbury’s gothic poetry. Therefore, The Cult had not one but two musical demographics to mollify in the autumn of 1988. Enter “Sonic Temple”: a truly rich hybrid of gothic new-wave music and muscular hard rock riffing from a Les Paul. What is striking at first is how dynamic the album sounds; It isn’t static like “Electric” and not quite as watery as “Love”, thus it is it’s own monster: A true product of The Cult and not their influences. Nowhere is this more evident than on the album’s lead-off song “Sun King”, where Astbury proclaims “This is where it all begins”, only to be followed by an absolute explosion of sound from the guitars and rhythm section. Astbury’s lyrics on “Sonic Temple” are intensely dynamic and range from sounding like a dog in heat to the introspective musings of Warhol scenester Edie Sedgewick. Billy Duffy also shines on “Sonic Temple”, ripping out a few leads that would’ve impressed the shred crowd (particularly on “Sun King” and “Sweet Soul Sister”). His guitar sound is also much more textured than on “Electric” and has alot more width in the mix (undoubtedly because there is reverb on the guitar signal, unlike the super-dry Gretsch). What this all amounts to however is a well-produced hard rock album with alot of character and dynamics. You can forget about being pounded by the same tempo for 12 songs. I think this album should be considered one of the greatest of the 1980’s. Period. Take a chance and try it yourself though.