Cult Leader

Lightless Walk

Written by: MIN on 21/12/2015 15:01:14

American ”heavy as hell”-band Cult Leader from Salt Lake City, Utah, formed in 2013 through the ashes of a band called Gaza. As to why Gaza broke up, I will not go into further detail with, but members Casey Hansen (drums), Mike Mason (guitar) and Anthony Lucero (bass) decided to start a band anew. Every member retook their usual position, except for Lucero who picked up vocal duties. They recruited Sam Richards on bass, and thus Cult Leader was created. After having released two EPs of pummeling crust punk in 2014 and 2015, respectively, the band recorded a full-length debut album called “Lightless Walk” with the help of Kurt Ballou through Deathwish Inc. – the same studio and producer that helped the band create their aforementioned EPs.

As you enter the first song of the album, “Great I Am”, you soon realize that there is no going back. It is unrelenting, eerie, heavy, and in one word: brutal. The drums pound you to pieces and the guitar tears at your hair and your ears. When that hell ride is over and the song ends after only one minute and twenty-three seconds, the crunching riffs of “The Sorrower” throw you in another direction and slam you up against the wall. Anthony Lucero yells and screams at you until your ears bleed, and as you go further down the spiral of “Lightless Walk”, there’s nothing you can do but acknowledge the massive power and energy that pours out of every member. What’s more impressive about Cult Leader’s album is the way that, despite their impressive prowess, few songs sound too similar to others. “Sympathetic” is just as mean as the previous songs, but it has a more melodic approach, and by the last minute or so, you enter post-metal territory.

Kurt Ballou has done an excellent job in producing the album as it manages to be constantly loud and filthy. It’s a great mix of sludge and powerviolence, which helps further the chokehold that the album puts you in. Even when the songs get quieter – because yes, this actually happens on a few occasions – the melody of the guitar or the droning bass is bellowing just below Lucero’s deep voice, waiting to be cut loose. If there’s one thing to detract from the album’s disposition and substance, though, it’s that the record actually has one too many of these quieter tracks. Both in the middle and by the end of the record, the band enters a sound that is very much like the one found by the end of Converge’s “Axe to Fall”; longer song-structures featuring crooning vocals heard over ambient sounds and suppressed drumming. The title-track and “A Good Life” are both great in execution, but the latter ruins the flow of the album and sticks out like a sore thumb. If the band had saved this sound just for the end of the album, I’d have been taken aback and savored the taste.

The remainder of the songs found on “Lightless Walk” all differ while maintaining that cutting edge the band is so good at manifesting. They push and pull you in every direction possible, and it’s a pleasure to sit through the album in its entirety. Cult Leader manages to grasp a wide range of genres, drawing in elements from sludge metal, hardcore, post-metal and crust punk. It’s easy to hear that several members of the band have been playing together for quite a while, and with this collection of songs they prove that this formation is here to stay. Listening to “Lightless Walk” is like being tossed into a psychological cage of emotions, just to have the sound of every possible sense of the words “anger” and “despair” thrown in your face. In the best way possible.

Download: Great I Am, Sympathetic, Suffer Louder
For The Fans Of: Converge, Gaza, Nails, Young and in the Way

Release date 16.10.2015
Deathwish Inc.

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