Published Oct 15, 2015Previews from Cult Leader's forthcoming Lightless Walk have been unrepentantly devastating. Tracks such as "Suffer Louder" and "Sympathetic" have been manic blasts of modern metal savagery, arguably even more ruthless than what was heard on Salt Lake City grinders' 2014 debut EP, Nothing for Us Here. There are, however, a fair share of moody and morose musical textures to the upcoming album that find frontman Anthony Lucero opting out of his fully screamed attack for a more brooding, hushed vocal approach. If you thought this was partly inspired by the band's recent cover of Mark Kozelek and Desertshore's "You Are Not My Blood," the frontman says you'd be right.
"That definitely came from the Kozelek song," Lucero tells Exclaim!, adding that the cover, taken from the Useless Animals 7-inch, helped steer the band into uncharted territory. "We'd always talked about exploring covers, it forces you out of your comfort zone. You've got to look at things differently when you do a cover. We committed to that song before I had ever even tried anything like that, vocally."
Lucero goes on to say that the recording session was a revelation, an experiment that paid off for a guy that hadn't initially considered singing in the band and a move that ultimately opened up the hardcore outfit's sonic possibilities.
"That was the first time I'd ever done anything like that in front of a group of people," he says. "I didn't know what to expect — I didn't know if it was going to be a failure or a complete disaster. And a couple of guys in the band can really sing... they have really beautiful singing voices."
Despite the self-consciousness, Lucero is no slouch when it comes to setting the mood with his own voice. Lightless Walk numbers like "A Good Life" have him taking a damaged bluesman approach, injecting the piece with a calmed but uncomfortable shush to detail lovelessness, while the crooned title track has him examining unending isolation. These are darkened themes, delivered in a low and gravelly tone he's drawn to.
"I've always loved vocalists and songwriters that live in the same range: Tom Waits, Nick Cave, Michael Gira — guys like that. This is kind of where my voice sits — I'm not comparing myself to them, I'm just in the same vocal range," he says, adding of the moodiest Lightless Walk material, "We're trying to explore our own way of writing songs like that."
But while the album comes with a hefty amount of hurt, there is also a cathartic resolve to the sadness. The record's "Sympathetic," for example, is a textural terrorscape of grind-style drums and guitar that eventually builds up to a rapturous yet no less distorted explosion of sound.
"I think that there has to be two sides to everything," Lucero says of Cult Leader's evolving dynamics. "There has to be some sort of silver lining existing somewhere in the world to counterbalance depression. And I tend to write about that a lot."
As previously reported, Lightless Walk arrives Friday (October 16) via Deathwish Inc. You can stream the entire record below, where you'll also find the band's upcoming North American concerts.
10/17 Tucson, AZ - Southwest Terror Fest *
10/19 Kansas City, MO - El Torren
10/20 Chicago, IL - Subterranean Downstairs
10/21 Toronto, ON - Parts and Labour
10/22 Montreal, QC - Turbohaus
10/23 Brooklyn, NY - The Acheron
10/24 Philadelphia, PA - Kung Fu Necktie
10/25 Boston, MA - Middle East Upstairs
10/26 Baltimore, MD - Charm City Art Space
10/27 Richmond, VA - Strange Matter
10/28 Columbia, SC - New Brookland Tavern
10/29 Orlando, FL - Backbooth
10/30 Tampa, FL - Epic Problem
10/31 Gainesville, FL - The Fest
11/01 Jacksonville, FL - Birdhouse
11/02 Atlanta, GA - 529
11/03 Nashville, TN - The End
11/04 Memphis, TN - Hi-Tone
11/05 New Orleans, LA - Sisters in Christ
* with Sleep