Album Review: Cult Leader – “Useless Animal”

Cult Leader
Useless Animal
(Deathwish Inc.)

Gaza was a band. The released grinding, crusty insanity on wax. After nine years, in 2013, they died. Reborn from three quarters of Gaza was Cult Leader. Replacing the exiting singer with Sam Richards, Cult Leader moved forward. We received the monstrous, drool inducing debut six tracks, Nothing for Us Here.

With Useless Animal, we get even more of a frenetic musical hailstorm. The first side contains two blistering tracks of dirty noise. The title track rips through some low end poundings and churning rhythms. Speed and enraged vocals trash surroundings like a claustrophobic, hyper Hulk. Spastic drums end this one minute journey with speed and accuracy. “Gutter Gods” continue with a groove buried in the mix somewhere. It surfaces and visits.

Looking at old Gaza, the term “math-rock” came up. I can definitely see “Gutter Gods” channeling bands like All Else Failed, Burn It Down, and Maharaj; or the first DEP LP, Calculating Infitiy. This track takes its time at one minute and a half. Cult Leader certainly fit in with the current wave of bands eschewing genre boundaries and splicing metal, crust, hardcore, and grind together like a human centipede. Nails being the most obvious, with the sonic low end of a mammoth’s roar; also bands like New Lows, APMD, and Phobia (not new, but…) all come to mind.

We are treated with a third track of beauty of somber contemplation in the expansive “You are Not My Blood”. These SLC punks draw from the Salt Flats to gauge their place in their environment. This track treads an oasis of isolation and trepidation. The cold delivery entrances the listener in their own morose memories. Earth, Steve Von Till, and Nick Cave influences seep in beautifully to contrast the uneasy feeling of this soundscape. A sweeping violin lingers in the mix as feedback and discordant guitars lay the solemn atmosphere. Drums and bass pound. Cult Leader enlisted Subrosa members to cover this haunting Mark Kozelek & Desertshore number, with which I am not familiar. I am checking on now out Spotify. CL’s version takes the original to new dimensions with the angrier guitars. After getting pummeled on Side A, this piece is a welcome and dynamic track.

The final Gaza and Cult Leader’s Nothing For Us Here enamored me and still demand constant replay. Deathwish represents again. This EP is looking good on its vinyl and sounds even better. The experimentation of Side B fits perfectly on this venue. It provides a balance to a three minute trek of Side A and allows the listener to delve as they see fit. Misplace on an LP, it could fuck with the flow. We will see if this continues on there next full length. Either way, this is pressing, this is urgent, this is now. Do it. (Hutch)

RIYL: all bands mentioned plus: The Secret, Dead in the Dirt, Early Graves, Full of Hell, Baptists, Enabler, Old Wounds

Purchase Useless Animal here.

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