Lightless Walk is the first full length from Salt Lake City’s Cult Leader, a band that is unfairly always living in the shadow of their past. But fuck the past, because Cult Leader are all about the now.
If you’ve heard either of Cult Leader’s prior releases, Nothing For Us Here EP and Useless Animal 7″, you know what you’re in for: crusty grind influenced hardcore mixed with some emotionally heavy lyrics. Cult Leader should be one of the flagship bands in hardcore today. Their sound is unique in a genre where a lot of bands sound exactly the same. They’re basically what I imagine Converge would sound like if they started today.
Lightless Walk is more of the same from the Cult Leader camp, which is not a bad thing. They’ve managed to perfect their sound in the short time they’ve been a band. They know how to tow that line between fast, angry hardcore and grind without solely being in one camp or the other. The album comes out of the gate swinging with the song ‘Great I Am’, a song that is a perfect example of what Cult Leader does best: bludgeoning the listener to a pulp before the first minute of the album is over.
The highlights of the album, like Cult Leaders prior work, is when they slow things down. The song ‘A Good Life’ is far and away my favorite part of the album. It’s the centerpiece, a slow, down tempo song with a bit of a country feel played through a metal filter. It’s a song that I could see Johnny Cash covering if he was still with us. Cult Leader’s slow moments have always added an incredible atmosphere that counteracts their punishing hardcore without coming off like a distraction. Another example of this is the albums closer, ‘Lightless Walk’.
In fact, the one thing Cult Leader does best is write unbelievable ending tracks. ‘Driftwood’ from Nothing For Us Here and their cover of ‘You Are Not My Blood’ from Useless Animal have showcased this fact, but ‘Lightless Walk’ might have one upped even those. It’s emotionally heavy and lyrics brutal. “I don’t know why anyone would pretend to care about me when I take that lightless walk. None of you will notice. Never buried and unmourned. None of you will love me in the end.” Those lyrics close out the album while being sung in a Nick Cave style vocal and are crushingly depressing and something I think a lot of people have felt in their lifetime. Anthony Lucero has a way with words that can take you right back to some of your darkest moments.
Cult Leader have crafted perhaps the hardcore album of the year and will hopefully garner them the much deserved attention. And hopefully when people write about them, they’ll stop referring to their past band and let the past die. Cult Leader’s future is way to bright to dwell on the past.
Album Highlights: Great I Am, Suffer Louder, A Good Life, Walking Wastelands, How Deep It Runs, Lightless Walk.