British goth and later hard rock band, led by Ian Astbury.
In Bradford, England and from the devolution of the Southern Death Cult and the Death Cult in 1984 emerged the result, under the name of The Cult. Critics said the
next step was to drop another word from the name and leave nothing but they went on to become first high priests of glam Goth and then the last of the rock icons.
The core of the band was made up of Astbury and guitarist Billy Duffy who may not have had a harmonious relationship at all times but were musically productive, if not prolific. Astbury's loud, epic brand of vocals and Duffy's flashback to the 1970s guitar playing were initially a peculiar combination for a post-punk gothic band in the mid-1980s and later a very unusual sound for the late 1980s and early 1990s. The way they played their 1970s brand of pounding dinosaur rock gave it a spark that made them the standard-bearers and sole representatives rather than mere revivalists of a genre that had been dead for ten years.
So, in 1984, Astbury brought in Duffy and Nigel Preston from the disbanded Theatre of Hate and they started creating some of the most memorable albums of the mid-1980s.
Their early work came directly out of the gothic dungeons of the early Thatcher era. Dreamtime is one of the best goth-rock albums ever and Love continued in the same style, though musically more mature, and had overtones of a more classic rock nature. Electric, with none other than Rick Rubin in the producer's chair, marked their breakthrough into the mainstream and signified their immediate transformation into monsters of rock with a set of well-written, catchy rock anthems. Sonic Temple was in the same vein and their later work was still good but became repetitive.
Duffy and Astbury parted ways in 1995 but 1999 saw them back in action with a new release in 2001 which this writeup will be updated to include once I get my ears on it.
Subjectively, Love is by far their best work, with Dreamtime second. These two are something all old-time Cult fans will agree upon, only the relative order varying. Sonic Temple is probably the most suitable for more mainstream listeners wanting a taste of The Cult. Individual tracks you might want to look for are (Here Come the) Rain (from Love), Love Removal Machine (from Electric) and She Sells Sanctuary (again, from Love).
Update, 2001-07-02: I saw them perform one of their new tracks on (I think) Jay Leno's Tonight show and was very unimpressed. They looked and played like tired old rockers. Very sad. I'll have to check out the studio album for a more complete review.
Update: 2002-02-19: While I have yet to listen to all of their last album, I did have the opportunity to see them live. With a real audience their performance was very much better than I expected. Astbury was pretty lively, though it did look like Duffy was in charge and leading the band on stage. Go see them if they're playing your town.