Review Summary: A pummeling maelstrom of darkness.
Cult Leader - Lightless Walk
. Very rarely nowadays do bands elicit such a reaction from fans of heavy music, but if the opening seconds to Lightless Walk
don't strike you deep then there's really no use proceeding into the rest of the album. Immediately nosediving into hellacious depths before being assaulted by feedback-laced blast beats, opening track "Great I Am" stands as a one minute statement and warning for the listener: this album is going to be absolute f
From then on we're treated to an absolute smorgasbord of nearly every extreme genre there is available. Pummeling breakdowns litter tracks like "The Sorrower" and "Suffer Louder", noise worshiping interludes like "Hate Offering", grinding cyclones like "Broken Blades" and "Walking Wastelands", Lightless Walk
succeeds because of its variety. Nearly every track starts off one way and ends in another. If being judged by the simple fact that this is a debut album to a group barely a couple years old, this might be one of the most impressive albums to date. However, this is misleading: the majority of the members of Cult Leader have been closely creating music together for nearly a decade... Their natural chemistry as a group is no accident and comes as a result of years of playing together, in one incarnation or another.
Kurt Ballou has been a renowned producer in the scene for years and, when used appropriately, can become a very formidable weapon. Cult Leader successfully realized this and, in doing so, made Lightless Walk
one of the most monolithic debut albums in recent memory. Tracks like "Gutter Gods" show the close symmetry that guitar Mike Mason and bassist Sam Richards share, while drummer Casey Hasen continues his remarkable journey of one-upping his percussive performances on every release he's been a part of over the past decade. While some might accuse Ballou's production style as a bit excessive and/or loud, those critiques fall on (literal) deaf ears as excessive and loud are exactly what Lightless Walk
intends to be.
Wedged in between the ferocity of the album, Cult Leader throw a couple curveballs at the listener by introducing longer, drawn out tracks in the middle and end of the album. "A Good Life" and the eponymously titled final track "Lightless Walk" wouldn't be out of place as a soundtrack to a Cormac McCarthy novel; with vocalist Anthony Lucero adopting a Nick Cave-esque monotone drone over heavily restrained strumming in the background. While Lucero does an adequate job in this case, the rest of the group can tend to sound somewhat lost-- this is not too surprising, given the sonic mayhem that dominates the majority of Lightless Walk
and, at times, Lucero's intonations sound drowned out by the heavily down tuned guitars.
At its heart, Lightless Walk
is a swirling void of destruction. A howling black hole of chaos, devouring any sense of hope. Unrelenting in its rage and clothed in dreariness, Cult Leader explode into the limelight with one of the more impressive debut albums in recent heavy music. While some elements hit harder than others, Lightless Walk
showcases the true depths of how all-encompassing modern metal has become. Not so much an album but a statement: Cult Leader are officially here. Watch the fu