Sunday, November 20, 2016

Concert Review: Cult Leader @ Union Transfer - Philadelphia, PA 11/15/16

I've never heard Cult Leader before November 15th. I beg the pardon of Cult Leader and their following for my ignorance of the genre they represent. I'm going to open this post to the possibility for discussion on this genre (Metal Core, Grind Core, Death Metal) and similar genres. You can all thank Cult Leader for this opportunity to discuss.  I've heard the YouTube personality Tempo talk about the subtlety of the vocals and guitar sound that define these differences. I always thought it all sounded the same and was really kind of boring. My first exposure to the ultra grinding sound was a band called Death from the 80's. Blazing fast, demonic sounding vocals, intensity but who gives a shit when it all sounds the same!!! I've been curious about the subtlety but remembering what Death sounded like I never could drum up the patience to investigate. This night I would get my chance ready or not!!!

When you go to Wiki for Cult Leader, a wide variety of music comes up as related acts, from Napalm Death to Touche' Amore' (WTF to that BTW).  Cult Leader subtitles are leaning somewhere toward Napalm Death.  One thing that jumps out to me in this type of music, it's defined by the obvious. Guitars have a ambient and textural roll even while delivering percussion chops. The bass, while carrying some melody, is percussive to my mind. The kick drum is the compass point as the drums take on almost a melodic roll, ALMOST. All this while containing the actually rush. It's not a roll for a faint hearted drummer. Casey Hansen is volatile and up to the task! He is definitely precise and aggressive..  Hansen's whirlwind drumming that supplies the riffs to grind along to and keeps them from turning into a plodding, ham handed, muddy blur. After the show I checked them out on Youtube and Bandcamp just so I could get a comparison, I'm talking about the band in their live setting here.  I came away from their recordings very impressed.  What they are able to pull off live shows they are an extremely tight unit.

I'm hoping that what I'm about to say next does not come off sounding stupid. Cult Leader's songs have a lot of variety and nuance. I've heard other bands do this type of thing and between the screaming, disjointed time signatures, and guitar sounds that could frankly stand better amp settings. Some of these bands use beautiful rigs and manage to sound like ass while it eventually all blends together or even sounds the same from song to song. Cult Leader some how create atmosphere and have some kind of depth. They have dynamics! That goes a long way here and is what makes Cult Leader and bands like Converge stand out. There are times they delve into an 80's thrash sound which makes me giddy and then seamlessly Hansen shifts into sixth gear drumming so smooth and without a fill to signal the tempo change giving it a very organic quality.

Cult Leader played a fairly short list while opening for Dillinger Escape Plan. The vocal styling of Anthony Lucero made it difficult to track down the songs via lyric bits as well. As someone who could have cared less about this type of music before the show, I can say Cult Leader has fueled an appreciation and curiosity for this community of music. I hope I do the band and their fans justice in this write up. Cult Leader played  their assess off at the Union Transfer.

 Keep the windows down and your eyes on the horizon!


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