Album Review: Cult Leader - 'Lightless Walk'

30 October 2015 | 4:59 pm | Staff Writer
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In music, as in life, sometimes the reward does not match the effort. It’s unfortunate yes, but the sooner you accept that things are never really intended to be fair, you can set about making the best of the available hand on offer. In artistic endeavour this disproportion always seems a little more magnified if not, entirely blatant. While some bands, which contain members that really have no justifiable claims to pick up an instrument in the first place and then call themselves musicians, enjoy acclaim others, with passion and hard work, only get to make their music succeed in-between working a dead end job at the local 7-Eleven.

Salt Lake City’s Cult Leader is the type of band heavy music needs. While they’re certainly not going to get a mention in this year’s triple j Hottest 100 or appear on Soundwave’s radar, it matters little. It doesn’t diminish the quality of the music or lessen the purpose that was poured into the tracks the make up new album, ‘Lightless Walk’.

Having introduced with 2014’s ‘Nothing For Us Here’, Cult Leader (comprised of ¾ of Gaza) have wasted no time with subsequent releases. It seems an off period to them is just time that could be better served working on music or hitting the road. 7” EP ‘Useless Animal’ was reflective of this efficiency. The biggest question prevailing is whether this record can improve on the previous music? Well, it’s a big emphatic yes. And, the band has actually become considerably heavier too. From the dense, low drops of opener ‘Great I Am’ to the moody, soft refrains of the title track closer, Cult Leader both expand and refine.

While the track titles don’t contain a sunny disposition (see: ‘The Sorrower’, ‘Suffer Louder’, ‘Hate Offering’ et. al.), the reception is far from negative. Drummer Casey Hansen, like all good drummers always should, leads things here. From the tempo to the transitions and the ever-changing fills, the chaotic sounds are accordingly compelled by the rhythm. ‘The Sorrower’, having done the live rounds previously, is the clearest snapshot of this release.

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Importantly retained are the sullen, expressive tracks littered throughout, which again break up the intensity. In the same way ‘Driftwood’ and the initial section of ‘Mongrel’ helped complement ‘Nothing For Us Here’, moments such as ‘A Good Life’, ‘How Deep It Runs’ and the aforementioned closer all have the same impact on ‘Lightless Walk’.

Let’s face it, in regards to broader success, how high is the ceiling for this genre of music? “Progressive crust” isn’t going to buy you that fancy bayside house that overlooks the Golden Gate Bridge. But see, there contains a crucial point. You know the bands performing this music are therefore in it for the right reasons. They play this style of music simply because they enjoy it. The ability to develop on the genre, offer their own contributions and put a smile on listeners’ faces is reward enough. And simply, that’s the best. We’ll take sincerity and determination every time.

Cult Leader have delivered an album with staying power. The band might still be in its infancy but the music is steady, well-structured and performed in such a way that the listener has no choice but to take notice.

1. Great I Am

2. The Sorrower

3. Sympathetic

4. Suffer Louder

5. Broken Blades

6. A Good Life

7. Walking Wastelands

8. Gutter Gods

9. Hate Offering

10. How Deep It Runs

11. Lightless Walk