Tuesday 12 May 2015

Cult Leader - 'Useless Animal' EP (Review)

Album Type: EP
Date Released: 16/6/2015
Label: Deathwish Inc

‘Useless Animal’ 7inch/DD track listing:

1). Useless Animal (01:15)
2). Gutter gods (01:33)
3). You Are Not My Blood (06:50)

Cult Leader is:

Sam Richards | BASS
Mike Mason | GUITAR
Casey Hansen | DRUMS
Anthony Lucero | VOCALS


When I can hear two bars of music and immediately know I will be playing a record again as soon as it’s done, I get pretty excited. I was pretty excited last year when I found out members of Gaza had continued on with Cult Leader and I was even more excited when I heard the debut ‘Nothing for Us Here’. Lots of the things I loved about Gaza with a fantastically tormented vocal performance by former Gaza bassist Anthony Lucero. So, needless to say (saying it anyways?) I was pretty excited to get the opportunity to review the newest EP ‘Useless Animal’.

No disappointments here! Opening with the title track, we are immediately welcomed to a recording you can feel. The first two tracks are what you would expect from former Gaza members. Shifting rhythmic intricacies accented by the ugliest noises guitar and bass can produce together. Its impossible not to be reminded of bands like Converge (go figure, they're on Deathwish), Botch, and Coalesce as you spend just under three minutes across ‘Useless Animals’ and ‘Gutter Gods’ trying to catch up from the last jarring shift before being hit with another one. The relentless assault is augmented by a raw production that is clear and focused, but bears a good amount of hair around the edges and sounds like it could have been tracked live.

The vocals on the first two tracks sound crushing with a raw edge that shows a spirit in the delivery and puts a soul into the chaos of the instrumentation.

Track three was an amazingly pleasant surprise. A dirge-y, raw cover of Mark Kozelek/Desertshore's track ‘You Are Not My Blood’ featuring Kim Pack and Sarah Pendleton of SubRosa adding strings and backing vocals to Lucero's raw, low-register presence. The track runs over seven minutes, going over twice as long as the first two tracks combined and it feels like a journey. Though the sounds are different and there isn't the in-your-face aggression, the track doesn't feel apart from the beginning of the EP.

This is honestly brutal and purposely chaotic music that both engages and alienates the listener in equal parts intentionally, for the listener's own benefit. Cult Leader, like Gaza (at least for me), doesn't seem to wallow in the darkness and invite us in like so many heavy bands do, but recognizes that we are all waiting here in the darkness and is asking us to scream outward from it with them.

Words by: Ian Smedbron

‘Useless Animal’ is available via Deathwish Inc here

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