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Cult Leader

Cult Leader - Lightless Walk album art

Lightless Walk

16th October 2015 – Deathwish Inc.

01. Great I Am
02. The Sorrower
03. Sympathetic
04. Suffer Louder
05. Broken Blades
06. A Good Life
07. Walking Wasteland
08. Gutter Gods
09. Hate Offering
10. How Deep It Runs
11. Lightless Walk

When Utahn noise-demons Gaza walked the plank a couple of years back, it was surprising to few to see the instrumental portion of the band re-emerge a few months later. Their disbandment was due to internal conflict rather than fatigue, and with their issues quelled, a new name and a new member meant they could continue raining destruction on the desert state from which they hail.

Cult Leader are, for all intents and purposes, Gaza 2.0: apart from the man screaming into the mic – Anthony Lucero, previously on bass duty - not much has changed; they’re still the same embodiment of malcontent and ill-feeling, and following a quickfire release of two EPs, their debut LP Lightless Walk is less a stumble in the dark, more a blind crawl over hot coals and broken glass. In a word, it’s savage.

That being said, while for the most part absolutely punishing and relentless, Lightless Walk is not without variation. Unlike some of its less-nuanced contemporaries, amongst the maelstrom of blastbeats and stabbing, downtuned riffs, each instrument takes opportunities to drop in and out of the racket, vary the tempo, drop beats, and generally subvert expectation. As such, the first few listens are delightfully unpredictable, especially as the songs change direction constantly, like a dog chasing a stick then noticing a squirrel in the corner of its eye.

Mid-point “A Good Life” tastes just a little bit like Neurosis, with the repeating down-tempo dirge and morose, spoken word vocals offering a stark break in the caustic, throat-shredding aggression that affects the rest of Lightless Walk - it’s merely a different kind of downbeat.

A dissonant squeal heralds the album’s second half, which is a more experimental affair, with feedback and unfettered roars constituting the almost fragrantly vicious aspect of tracks like “Hate Offering” – an aptly named excursion if ever there were one. The quick alliterative one-two of “Walking Wasteland” and “Gutter Gods” are noticeably beefy, retaining the tempo of the album’s first half, but they lurch, twisted and malformed by injections of jarring tone and cacophony.

It’s all rounded off with the crushing title track; a relentless and frustrating elegy that encapsulates Cult Leader’s grasp on powerfully depressive music perfectly over seven and a half minutes. There’s a delicate beauty to its repeated patterns and muted, haunting chords that sums up why Lightless Walk should be your dispiriting listen of choice for the colder months.