Cult Leader is an American mathcore band. Formed out of the ashes of Gaza after a messy split, the band hit the ground running and quickly became a celebrated figure in mathcore and escaped from Gaza's shadow.
Formed Salt Lake City, Utah in 2013 several months after Gaza broke up following severe longstanding tensions with then-vocalist Jon Parkin that culminated in rape accusations by a blogger around the end of 2012, the founding lineup consisted of former Gaza members Anthony Lucero, Mike Mason, and Casey Hansen plus newcomer Sam Richards, with Mason and Hansen keeping their roles and Lucero switching to vocals, while Richards took Lucero's old bass spot. The rest of 2013 was spent establishing the band, along with some writing; by early 2014, Nothing For Us Here, their debut EP, had been announced and was released that April. The band immediately began touring on it, and around the end of the year, they announced a 7" EP and stated that a full-length would be coming in 2015. Useless Animal, the 7", was released that following June, while Lightless Walk followed in October. The next few years brought more touring (including a series of dates supporting Deftones), though their activity quieted down around 2017. 2018 started out quiet aside from a set of West Coast dates with their good friends in Converge, but that September brought the news that everyone had been hoping for: the announcement of a new full-length. A Patient Man was released that November right before a tour that is just wrapping up as of the time of writing of this page.
- Nothing For Us Here (2014) (EP)
- Useless Animal (2015) (7" EP)
- Lightless Walk (2015)
- A Patient Man (2018)
The band contains examples of the following tropes:
- Badass Beard: Mike Mason.
- Cover Version: "You Are Not My Blood" (Mark Kozelek and Desertshore).
- Epic Rocking: "A Patient Man" (7:32), "Lightless Walk" (7:18), "The Broken Right Hand of God" (6:32), "To: Achlys" (6:15), and "Driftwood" (6:06).
- Meaningful Name: Nothing For Us Here was intended as a direct commentary on how they felt about Gaza, as even before the rape allegations, they were well and truly sick of Jon Parkin's shit. When the allegations emerged, they realized that while they needed to kick him out ASAP either way, Gaza had so many bad vibes attached to it and left such a bad taste in their mouths thanks to their problems with him that they just didn't want to continue with it and wanted a fresh start.
- Metalcore: Started off as Entombedcore with prominent mathcore elements, then steadily moved towards mathcore starting with Lightless Walk before completing their transformation with A Patient Man.
- Metal Scream: Anthony Lucero is a Type 3, sporting a higher-pitched grindcore shriek.
- Miniscule Rocking: This was everywhere on their earlier material due to their prominent crust elements, with "Useless Animal" being the shortest at 1:14.
- Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: 9 on their heavy tracks, though their slowcore tracks are on the harder end of a 3 aside from "A Good Life" and "A World of Joy", which have heavy portions.
- New Sound Album: Both full-lengths:
- Perishing Alt-Rock Voice: Anthony Lucero has a deep, gravelly, sparse singing voice heavily reminiscent of Mark Kozelek, Michael Gira, and Leonard Cohen.
- Slowcore: Covered a Mark Kozelek song on Useless Animal and began exploring the genre more on Lightless Walk and especially A Patient Man.
- Soprano and Gravel: Anthony Lucero started using cleans on the cover of Mark Kozelek's "You Are Not My Blood" and began using them exclusively on their more subdued tracks. Ironically, his harsh vocals are far higher than his deep, gravelly singing voice.
- Spiritual Successor: Started out as this to Gaza (they didn't really want Cult Leader to be this, but knew that they would be seen as this, hence their initial tagline of "We were a band, now we're a better band"), but have since done their best to distance themselves from Gaza and establish themselves as their own entity.
- Step Up to the Microphone: Anthony Lucero was strictly a bassist in Gaza before he gave up that spot to do vocals in Cult Leader.
- Surprisingly Gentle Song: Their cover of "You Are Not My Blood" kicked off a trend of these that was continued with "A Good Life" and the title track to Lightless Walk, plus "To: Achlys", "A World of Joy", the title track, and "The Broken Right Hand of God" on A Patient Man.
- Take That!: The title of Nothing For Us Here was explicitly a shot at Jon Parkin, and on the album, "God's Lonely Children" was definitely about their time spent with him in Gaza, while "Skin Crawler" may or may not also be about him.