Editors’ Notes For the first time in years, the Swedish metal band Cult of Luna set out to write an album that wasn’t based on a particular theme or concept—Mariner, their 2016 collaboration with Julie Christmas, examined space exploration, and 2013’s Vertikal and Vertikal II were inspired by the 1927 science fiction film Metropolis. “I needed to find new ways to write music,” guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter Johannes Persson tells Apple Music. “I love limiting your creative output, because it forces you to make decisions that you otherwise wouldn’t. But I’ve noticed a lot of changes in myself the last couple of years—basic values, stuff like that. So I thought, what would happen if I just let my subconscious just go?” From that came the immense A Dawn to Fear—an absolute career highlight, and their most collaborative effort yet in terms of songwriting. As for the title: “It’s about experiences that you’re going to have whether you like it or not, that are part of life,” Persson says. “For example, if things go well, you are going to bury your parents. That's not easy. We might not want to think about it, but it's going to happen.” Below, Persson talks more about the music and stories behind each song on their eighth album.

The Silent Man
“It’s a weird track. I think it came from the will for a drastic change—to try something new, to do something uptempo. Our songs are pretty long, and that can be very monotonous if we don’t find places to color it with different melodies and stuff like that. I’m not going to explain all the lyrics on this one, but I think that men can be held back by the expectations that are brought upon us. It’s about masculinity in some sense, and how it's poisonous for pretty much everybody.”

Lay Your Head to Rest
“It's quite special. It's very easy [to play the guitar riff], but because it's very easy, it was very hard to find the right sound. It should hit you like a sledgehammer. Lyrically, this is the song I'm most satisfied with. The subject matter is super close to me, and super important. I’m happy it’ll still be out there in some shape or form after I've passed away. It was one of those very exceptional cases where the time it took to write the sentences was very, very quick. That’s so rare for me.”

A Dawn to Fear
“For the first time in 13 years, we spent pretty much the whole recording process together, down in this small studio on an island off the coast of Norway. Usually we just meet up for three or four days and record the basics, and then we scatter and record in different studios, because we live in different places. But this is a product of the collective. As for the lyrics, I realized after writing them that they were about a very disturbing experience that I had once. It was quite weird, and this is going to sound really out there, but here goes: When I realized what I was writing about, I remembered where I was standing when that experience happened. And when I looked behind me, I saw the river that flows through Umeå, the city where I'm from. In my mind, I just looked back and I saw the sun rising. That's where the title came from. It’s a completely personal experience, but it can mean a lot of things.”

“This took a very, very long time to write—maybe one and a half years. It’s definitely the song that’s taken the longest time to finish, ever. But I know when I have a song and it always takes time. It's all about where your heart is. A lot of the themes are about asking the question ‘Where is home?’ It doesn't have to be a geographical place. However, that brings us to the next song…”

Lights on the Hill
“If ‘Nightwalkers’ is about where my heart is, ‘Lights on the Hill’ is a story about where I’m from. It’s actually from my dad, who lives inland, in the middle of nowhere. He told me an 18th-century story that’s well-known in that area about a man named Spå-Klemmet—a soothsayer, or a shaman. He was harassed, tortured, and made fun of by the local people, the Sámi. He was also blamed for the bad stuff that happened in the village. For example, when lightning hit a farm and killed a bunch of cows, it was said that he was sitting on the hill, throwing fireballs over the village. After causing trouble one day while drunk, he was incarcerated with a soldier named Tiger. The soldier was killed in war by Russians, and a year later, Spå-Klemmet was killed by Tiger’s wife when he tried to break into their house. So their fate and their stories were interconnected, even in death.”

We Feel the End
“That song is entirely Fredrik [Kihlberg, guitarist]’s song. It's a manifestation of what he's been going through over the last few years. I remember when we all got together and listened to it for the first time. It was night at the studio, by the ocean. It was dark. We could see the Northern Lights. We all sat there and listened, and at the end it just fades out. All we could hear after that was the sound of the waves outside the window. Nobody spoke afterwards. There's something in the air that you respect. It was such a real moment.”

Inland Rain
“This song was the first one written for the album. We tried it out live a couple of times after Mariner. We had to work with it a bit so it would fit with our vision, but once we found our way with the new tracks, we started to see what picture they made together. It was a challenge to record, but I'm very happy with the way it ended up.”

The Fall
“I was sitting with my guitar, and this melody just came up. It was that moment where you realize, ‘Okay, now I have a song. I just need to put some stuff in the middle.’ We actually jammed a lot more with this one, playing for as long as we felt like it, and I think you can hear how we let the song and melody take us wherever it wanted. It’s about how past experiences form us as people, and how important it is to listen to your intuition in order to move forward.”


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