Clean Liv­ing

Exclaim! - - MUSIC SCHOOL: WHAT I PLAY - By Joe Smith-En­gel­hardt

CULT LEADER HAVE BEEN BLAST­ING PEO­PLE’S EARS WITH HY­PER­AG­GRES­SIVE CHAOTIC HARD­CORE since the demise of their for­mer band Gaza five years ago, but now they’ve flipped the script and dug deep into the dark brood­ing epics they ex­per­i­mented with on pre­vi­ous re­leases.

Fans of the band got a glimpse of their clean epics along­side vi­cious bangers on their first few re­leases, but on their sopho­more record,

A Pa­tient Man, they fully em­brace this side of them­selves.

“It’s some­thing we’ve been ex­plor­ing since our sec­ond re­lease,” vo­cal­ist An­thony Lucero ex­plains. “I think it took more of a fin­ished form on this record; it’s some­thing we’ve al­ways flirted with, I just think this is the first time that it has ever fully formed.”

Al­though Lucero de­liv­ers a grotesque de­monic growl when the band are tear­ing through blast beats and ra­zor-sharp riffs, he stands out the most when us­ing his low, clean voice. The singer comes across more con­fi­dent in his ca­pa­bil­i­ties on the new al­bum, but says he’ll likely never be fully com­fort­able with his per­for­mance.

“I don’t spend a lot of time ques­tion­ing if I am ca­pa­ble of pulling some­thing off any­more, which was a big part of the ear­lier re­leases,” says Lucero. “I al­ways want to stay pretty far out­side of my com­fort zone, and try a whole bunch of shit that I’m not to­tally pos­i­tive about be­ing able to pull off, but at least within the con­fines of what we’ve done, I know that I’ve been able to ac­com­plish the things that I’ve had in my head.”

In the same fash­ion as their de­but, the band recorded with leg­endary pro­ducer and Con­verge gui­tarist Kurt Bal­lou at God­C­ity Stu­dio. Al­though Bal­lou and the mem­bers of Cult Leader are friends, Lucero says the ad­mi­ra­tion they have for Bal­lou’s work pushes them to cre­ate the best ma­te­rial they can.

“At this point, it’s re­ally just go­ing in and do­ing what we do and trust­ing his opin­ion and his ca­pa­bil­ity. A big part of it is you don’t want to go in and look stupid to some­one like Kurt. You want to go in and be as pre­pared as you can pos­si­bly be and give it ev­ery­thing you’ve got.”

Whether it’s due to the bands they as­so­ciate with, their legacy car­ry­ing over from Gaza, or sim­ply their raw en­ergy and skills, Cult Leader are one of the most im­pres­sive ris­ing metal bands around. De­spite the at­ten­tion they’re get­ting, though, the band are com­pul­sively driven to make mu­sic and would do it no mat­ter what.

“We would have made this record if no one lis­tened to it, ever. It’s fan­tas­tic and sur­pris­ing and it helps val­i­date what we do to a cer­tain de­gree, but it doesn’t drive us,” says Lucero. “First and fore­most, we do this so we can get what­ever it is in­side of us out. Do­ing it as a group has a spe­cial power for us.”

“I al­ways want to stay pretty far out­side of my com­fort zone and try shit I’m not pos­i­tive about.”

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