The Fourth of July: For most it means cook outs, light beer, fireworks, over-indulgence of all things, but for me it meant a day at work and then a date with Cult Leader at the Mr. Roboto Project here in Pittsburgh. Let’s face it, it’s July 4th and people want to see things blow up in grand fashion, and Cult Leader does just that when the lights go out.
Cult Leader was born in the ashes of Salt Lake City band Gaza, conflict with the bands lead singer found Anthony Lucero, dropping his bass to pick up a microphone. Instead of filling in shoes and continuing on as Gaza the members decided to create a new more powerful animal under the Cult Leader name. With Lucero taking over vocal duties, they recruited Sam Richards to play bass and the band marched forward recording their first EP “Nothing For Us Here”, a powerful effort of noise and crushing melody in a blend of what can make hardcore something special again. There is something about the Cult Leader sound that separates them from the masses of heavy bombastic bands blending grind, hardcore, and these dips into doom and post rock.
I will be the first to admit I am not a genre specific fan, a scenester, a metalhead or whatever, I am a fan of bands, specifically bands that are doing something special and different and Cult Leader are doing just that. After the first EP and a relentless touring effort the band released the Useless Animals 7”, a ferocious title track but also a dark and deliberate cover of Mark Kozelek’s “You Are Not My Blood” (sidenote: I am a big Sun Kil Moon/Kozelek/Red House Painter fan) quickly followed by Lightless Walk, the band’s first full length effort. Lightless Walk picked up where the previous efforts left off, pushing the sound and technical efforts further out into the balance of chaos and beauty where everything gets pulled in to massive breakdowns of crushing thunder. Lucero’s vocals are so powerful it’s a wonder how he ever ended up playing bass in the first incarnation of this band. Just as powerful is Lucero’s cathartic approach to live performance, writhing and howling ever-egging the crowd on to join him in his personal exorcism of what is haunting him. Casey Hansen’s drumming is on the border-line of an Olympic event as he pounds his way through blast beats and technical fills only to find respite in two ton breakdowns.
The first time I got to see Cult Leader, much like a Fourth of July firework, they blew up the P.A. and Lucero was forced to sing through a bass amp. Since then, the band have been blowing up the underground. With festival dates and a recent opening slot for the Deftones, Cult Leader’s explosive nature is gaining them quite a reputation.