Metal this week: The story of Gaza’s split and Cult Leader’s arrival

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Metal this week: The story of Gaza’s split and Cult Leader’s arrival


With its caustic mix of grind, sludge and ‘mathy’ hardcore, Gaza‘s 2006 debut album I Don’t Care Where I Go When I Die kicked off an interest in a band that would become a staple in my listening habits for some time. If you take the follow up albums He Is Never Coming Back and No Absolutes In Human Suffering at purely face value, you probably don’t even need to read lyrics like “it sure was nice of Jesus to take time away from ignoring ethnic cleansing, genocide, and famine bloated children, or regrowing limbs for landmine victims, to help you score that touchdown, to help you find your keys,” to have a pretty good idea of the band’s tone. Following a rape allegation against their vocalist (that was vehemently denied, and eventually deleted from Tumblr after the two parties reached an agreement), Gaza disbanded in early 2013. 

Enter Cult Leader. Formed mere months after the above collapse, the band featured three members of Gaza, with their bass player having switched it up to vocals, and a new bassist coming on board. The band quickly signed to Converge vocalist Jacob Bannon’s Deathwish Inc. label, and busted out an EP in 2014 called Nothing For Us Here. It marked a stylistic change that saw them pursue a more hardcore punk-oriented sound that received acclaim from many, but left me longing for something more akin to their previous band’s sound. 

Now here in 2018, Cult Leader has essentially blown my brains out with their second full-length A Patient Man. With their debut born from a need to escape their past and start afresh, it’s now evident that the band has been leaning back into their roots in the years since, while also leaning forward into totally new sounds. This album is sheer violence and horror, yet its heaviest moments come from the songs where deeply melodic vocals akin to Tom Waits and Nick Cave lead songs through meandering sadness and into hugely punctuated crescendos of emotional brutality. 

I can’t think of an album in recent memory that has made me feel so terribly hollow and broken, yet in a way where I can’t turn it off, because you know it’s a good kind of pain. A Patient Man makes me want to disembowel myself and writhe about in my own blood and guts. It is a roller coaster that makes me vomit, yet I am strapped in and ready to go, over and over again. It is so painfully cathartic that it immobilises me, yet connects me with such a deep level of feeling that I am simply bewildered. It took Cult Leader some years, but they have now reached a level that is far more powerful than anything Gaza even came close to touching, and one that I don’t think many people truly saw coming. Now, go and experience it for yourself.