There are a lot of things in life you can be upset about on a daily basis. Most of them have existed for years. Decades, even. Centuries? Sure. The balance of power in the world never has been more lopsided, people are getting dumber and more ignorant to what’s going on around them, and the Internet has proven to be as much a tool of advancement as it is a way to see the really rotten, awful side of humanity. Sadly, that aspect outweighs the good.
This is why the world needs bands like Cult Leader. These guys don’t sugarcoat anything. Just putting on their records and indulging in a few minutes lets you now right away they are firing buckets of piss, vinegar, and blood, and if they happen to get any of that in an open sore, oh well. It just serves their greater good, which is exposing and eye raking the bullshit about life in general. Having formed from the ashes of Gaza, Cult Leader have gone onto greater heights, enjoyed a more prolific creative life, and have a stranglehold on the miserable, infuriating parts of life. Don’t sweep that shit under the rug, don’t ignore it hoping it’ll go away, and don’t take it. Poke it in the eye and expose those negative forces for the garbage that they are. The hope is other people will pay attention and react the same way.
Based in Salt Lake City, Utah, Cult Leader got started following Gaza’s dissolution (go ahead and Google it if you’d like…), with former member Antony Lucero (who put aside bass duties and took over on vocals for this band), Mike Mason (guitars), and Casey Hansen (drums) forming this new group. Sam Richards then joined the band on bass, and they were off and firing, putting out two EPs—“Nothing for Us Here” in 2014 and “Useless Animal” earlier this year—and now their debut full-length album “Lightless Walk” has arrived to level their listeners all over again. Basically, if you enjoyed the direction Cult Leader were headed on their EPs, you’re going to be right at home on this one, digging into their fury and spite all over again on this 11-track offering. Yet, there are surprising new shades that prove Cult Leader have plenty of tricks up their collective sleeves.
“Great I Am” gets the record off to a perfectly volatile start, with doomy, smeary playing causing great havoc, the song tearing apart and blistering, and scathing savagery taking over. It’s a purely brutal assault, one that feels immediate and bloodthirsty, and it whips by you and into “The Sorrower” with its bleeding noise and crunchy assault. It, too, blows past in no time, firing off savagery madness as it rams right into “Sympathetic.” That track boils and gives off steam, with the drums being plastered, Lucero’s vocals mangling, and the pace of the song leaving you beaten and bruised. “Suffer Louder” is fast and ferocious, with the music burning dangerously and Lucero howling, “The more I suffer, the more I made it.” “Broken Blade” continues the vibe of obliteration, with the song blown apart, causing shrapnel to fly, and the vocals are howled like Lucero is trying to destroy his throat. “A Good Life” is one of two pretty different songs for Cult Leader, with the track hammering slowly, setting up a dark vibe, as Lucero speaks his words, poking with, “My own mother won’t say my name,” as this scarred tale develops. The song bursts toward the end, with the band applying their trademark heaviness, but the first potion of the track and its disturbing themes are impossible to shake.
“Walking Wasteland” brings us back to punishment, as the band brutalizes your senses here, with muddy guitars cutting tributaries in your skin and Lucero wailing, “Time heals nothing!” “Gutter Gods” is over before you even know what hit you. It fires on all cylinders and leaves you dizzy and reeling into “Hate Offering,” which continues the clobbering. The track is thashy and devious, with some parts slowing down in order to stretch out the body blows. “How Deep It Runs” has a more calculated pace as well, with the growls coming harshly and the band hammering away. The guitars really heat up later on, scorching your flesh, as the band continues to double down on the crushing sentiments and push you right into the 7:18 closing title track. This is in a similar vein as “A Good Life,” with clean guitars trickling down and the vocals more spoken than anything. The ambiance is morose and utterly dark, with clean singing spilling in behind the fray and the feel that a complete breakdown is imminent. Yet that doesn’t arrive musically (it sure as hell does emotionally), as the pace remains somber, the vocals are filled with pain, and the track bleeds away, hitting ever harder than it would have had the expected explosion occurred. It’s a totally different side to Cult Leader, one that shows they have far more depth than most of us previously knew.
It’s OK to feel nasty and disappointed by your surroundings, and you don’t just have to stand there and get knocked to the ground. Cult Leader make that abundantly clear on “Lightless Walk,” a record that despite its quieter, more reflective moments, is an angry mouth going for the throat. It’s heavy, unforgiving, and channeled, making the most of their time to deliver a severe body blow to the forces that would hold us down and a message of hope that fighting back can be noble and satisfying.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/CultLeaderMusic
To buy the album, go here: http://store.deathwishinc.com/category/new.html
For more on the label, go here: http://www.deathwishinc.com/