The Cult would dearly love to revisit the era of "Sonic Temple" (1989), when they occupied an unprecedented position at the nexus of metal, alternative rock and Goth. Their intended comeback disc, "Beyond Good and Evil," certainly reeks of "Temple" in spots: There's even another balladic paean to a Warhol crony (this time, Velvet Underground chanteuse Nico). But the catchy hooks and aural textures required to win over their lapsed fans are wedded to just enough nü-metal dirt to seduce younger ears as well.
Producer Bob Rock freely reprises the production tricks and arrangement ideas he brought to 1994's terrific yet ill-fated "Mötley Crüe," and from which The Cult are far more likely to benefit. They're not trying to sell a new lead singer, as Mötley was, but instead riding assuredly on the vocals of revered frontman Ian Astbury, whose throaty bellowing unexpectedly sounds better than ever. He's the voice of a fine record that resides not only beyond good and evil, but beyond nostalgia as well.