The Cult are a British rock band formed in 1983. Before settling on their current name in January 1984, the band performed under the name Death Cult, which was an evolution of the name of lead singer Ian Astbury’s previous band Southern Death Cult. They gained a dedicated following in the UK in the mid-1980s as a post-punk/gothic rock band, with singles such as “She Sells Sanctuary”, before breaking mainstream in the United States in the late 1980s as a hard rock band with singles such as “Love Removal Machine” and “Fire Woman”. According to music critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine, the band fuse a “heavy metal revivalist” sound with the “pseudo-mysticism … of The Doors [and] the guitar-orchestrations of Led Zeppelin … while adding touches of post-punk goth rock”. Since the initial formation of Southern Death Cult in Bradford in 1981, the band have had various line-ups; the longest-serving members are Astbury and guitarist Billy Duffy, the band’s two songwriters.
After moving to London, the band released their second album Love in 1985, which charted at No. 4 in the UK and included singles such as “She Sells Sanctuary” and “Rain”. On their third album, Electric (1987), the band supplemented their post-punk sound with hard rock; the polish on this new sound was facilitated by producer Rick Rubin. Their fourth album, Sonic Temple (1989), proceeded in a similar vein, and these two albums enabled them to break into the North American market. It was also during this period that The Cult relocated to Los Angeles, California, where the band are currently based.
By the early 1990s, The Cult were fraying behind the scenes due to alcohol abuse, which prompted the band to split up in 1995. The band reunited in 1999 and recorded the album Beyond Good and Evil, and they reissued all of their albums in Asia and Eastern Europe in 2003 and Japan in 2004. In 2006, the band reformed once again to perform a series of worldwide tours, and have since released three more studio albums: Born into This (2007), Choice of Weapon (2012) and Hidden City (2016).