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The Cult: Choice of Weapon (Cooking Vinyl) 

Until the increasingly unlikely moment when Led Zeppelin reunites to record a new album and storm the world's stadiums, many of us will settle for the next-best thing—British-born Ian Astbury and Billy Duffy's The Cult. One of the few authentic hard-rock bands not settling for dour nü-metal posturing, The Cult has always wielded equal amounts of light and darkness, and Choice of Weapon's 10 varied tracks, produced by Chris Goss (Queens of the Stone Age) and Bob Rock (Metallica), stress both sides of the existential equation.

From the heavy ballad "Life > Death," with its uplifting piano-laced interlude, to the riff-packed and pounding froth of "For the Animals," to the highway-speeding rocker "Amnesia," this—Astbury and Duffy's first proper full-length since 2007's Born Into This—is some of the best material the longtime brothers-in-arms have ever done.

"Wilderness Now," in which Astbury celebrates being at once lost and found in a beautifully broken world ("I can't wake from this dream / Death walks right beside me / Light shines bright behind me"), is the dazzling centerpiece.

Some versions of Weapon come loaded with bonus tracks, featuring the "capsule" releases The Cult released online over the five-year break. If you haven't heard "Every Man and Woman Is a Star," with Astbury playing his shamanic frontman role to the hilt, Choice is your chance. A return to fine and ferocious form.

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