Cult Leader – Lightless Walk ALBUM REVIEW

It’s not secret that as far as imagery and atmosphere in metal, violence is a key component to the more harsh scene. This is especially prevalent in the more underground death metal, sludge metal, and then more ubiquitously grindcore, crust punk, deathgrind, etc. Lightless Walk is absolutely no exception to that, featuring mostly shorter tracks that beat your face in while making in a point in as little time as possible, then continuing on to the next track of mostly the same thing. While this is pretty standard for crust punk, even though it is especially well executed here, the major difference that makes this album truly great is the way they change up the emotional pace of the album, and utilize much more melancholy atmosphere’s to contrast the violent smashing of heads with a more reflective approach.

The shorter tracks are exactly what you’d expect from a crust punk band. Violent, abrasive, rebellious snippets of punk anger towards an unjust world. While these are executed well here, I feel like they’re more filler than the central part of the album. Not as if they aren’t need, quite the opposite in fact. It’s just I feel like they’re there more to supplement the more soft sections so as to create a proper conflict.

And boy what a conflict it is. Or rather, how little of a conflict it is despite the opposing atmospheres. While for the most part these approaches remain contained in separate tracks, the listener gets a glimpse of what could be in tracks like Sympathetic. The start of the song seems like a fairly standard track among what you’d expect in a crust punk album. However at around the halfway mark, there’s a subtle bit of melodic structure and soft tones interwoven in the harsh music, which creates probably the best moment in the album. It catches you totally off guard, and turns out just to be a teaser for what is to come.

Unfortunately, there is never another look at the two styles mixed together, however on tracks like How Deep it Runs, and A Good Life, you,  do get the change of pace of slower, doomy, melancholy pieces. I’ve always thought that tonality is best used sparingly in which it is mostly absent. That is, mostly atonal with some tonality for maximum effect. To me it feels like such a release to listen to, having listened to all those “unpleasant” tones, and then finally getting the sweet release of a major triad. Lightless Walk doesn’t do this enough, but when it does, it’s quite something to hear. But what really separates this album is not just the fact that it combines harsh with soft, but in how slow those soft sections are. Like I said earlier, this borders on funeral doom at times, going so slow that it forces you to reflect on the music, rather than just take what it gives you at face value. The repetitive riffs on these tracks add a hypnotic feel that lulls you into a sense of daydream, completely forgetting all the pain the previous tracks reminded you life can bring.

If there’s anything really wrong with this, it’s its length, clocking in at not quite 37 minutes. It’s not really a bad length, but I feel like an extra 7-8 minutes or so would’ve done a lot of good. They also could’ve spaced the longer tracks with the shorter tracks a bit better, as right now it seems a bit random as to when you’ll hear one, rather than being more evenly spaced and used as tactical breaks. Even so, this is a fantastic album that reaches just under the AOTY candidate category. Worth a listen to anyone looking for a different kind of crust punk album.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s