EP Review: Cult Leader – “Useless Animal”

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Cult Leader is heavy.  I’m gonna say it again, Cult Leader is heavy.  I say it again because after you have listened to their newest EP Useless Animal, you’ll find one ‘heavy’ just doesn’t cut it.  This release sees the progressive crust band take that progressive moniker to all new levels of chaos, distortion, and fury.

This frenetic onslaught lasts about three minutes over the first two songs of the three song EP.  “Useless Animal” charges right out of the gate with the band immediately in full form.  Guitars are tuned low, played loud and sound evil.  The bass has a sinister tone to it, and the drums switch from fast to really fast throughout.  All this backing what I imagine is an actual demon screaming and growling his hatred of humanity through the microphone.  That first song shows Cult Leader reaching for new levels of heaviness and complexity, but this is pushed over the edge with the next song “Gutter Gods.”  It starts off with just a bass line, but once everything else kicks in, there is no telling where the band is going to go with it.  The guitar riffs are quick and angular, while the drummer is making use out of his whole kit as often as possible, while still keeping everything on (blast) beat.  The vocals match perfectly with the madness being created by the instruments.  It sounds like a different singer than the one from the first song.  That one was low and thunderous, while this one is more high pitched and gravelly.  When the two come together toward the end of “Gutter Gods,” it sounds like the band may be about to take my soul.  This three minute onslaught feels a lot longer and is a fun ride.  If you like heavy music just for the sake of being heavy, this will delight you immensely.

The band then does a complete 180 for the third song of the EP, a cover of “You Are Not My Blood” by Mark Kozelek & Desertshore.  The song gradually eases the listener back down from the heights they took you in the first two songs with spacey guitar and slow, pulsating drums.  This continues pretty much throughout the whole song as the band adds other trippy and creepy effects.  The vocals are still low and dark, but without the screaming and growling.

Cult Leader has put out something very interesting with Useless Animal.  Its first half pushes heaviness to its extreme, while the second half seems to acknowledge that the listeners ears might spontaneously start to bleed, and offers a way to come down from that.  The best part about this is how the seemingly total opposites end up working so well together.  I feel that while the three songs differ in levels of distortion and such, they still all have the same dark vibe.   Useless Animal is a good and addicting listen that I’ll be sure to pull out for a fun ride in the future.

4/5 Stars


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