On December 4th, I entered Turbo Haüs for the first time in my life and was greeted by what looked like a glorified jam space instead of a traditional venue. I thought it was pretty cozy, until Sweden’s God Mother came on. I noticed the singer duct-taping his microphone and cable connections. I was thinking that it was probably a DIY punk thing, but it wasn’t. As soon as the first note hit, utter chaos ensued: the singer shot himself into the crowd while the band dished out dissonant, mind-melting grindcore. I think drummer Michael Dahlström is part cyborg because I haven’t heard tight 200+ bpm blasts that weren’t done by a drum machine until I saw him. Guitarist Max Lindström and bassist Daniel Noring were tight, had great grind tones, and stayed static while singer Sebastian Campbell acted like a complete savage throughout the set, not using the stage but rather the crowd floor. He was climbing things, taking chairs and standing on them like a curled beast while snarling, and there was even a point when he got two volunteers to hold the microphone cable to play limbo while the song was playing. Max participation was involved, and I almost joined! The singer was very intimate with the crowd though, cracking jokes in between songs. I didn’t catch any song titles, it’s grind. For their ending, the singer was screaming at the microphone on the floor and the guitarist broke a string. Talk about timing! What an amazing band.
I went outside to get some solace from the frenzy and was wondering what the hell was going to be next. I came back in and New York’s Primitive Weapons came on. Drummer Chris Enriquez started with a primitive beat while guitarist Arthur Shepard and bassist Eric Odness played a dissonant post-hardcore riff. Singer David Castillo came on and presented the band, and they started playing “Hideous Heart,” which had militant beats and a hooky, melodic chorus that turned into sludge. The singer had just as much energy as the previous band but had less space because the venue was filling up, he also used the crowd floor as his stage. He had a scream-in-your-face approach; at one point, the lyrics were “PUT IT DOWN!” and the singer smacked the notepad out of my hand, breaking my pen. (Thank goodness I had a spare!) At that point I stopped writing in fear of future sanctions from the singer. This band is unique in the sense that they have hooky yet haunting passages that combine very heavy beatdowns. During their last song “Night Eyes,” the guitarist dished out some frenzied growls as well. They were all driven with passion, especially David. I have never seen anyone do the robot and disco dancing while extreme post-hardcore is blaring. I’m a fan, even if David broke my pen…
At this point I just didn’t know what to expect from Utah’s Cult Leader. I will start by putting it this way: this is not a band, it is a phenomenon. As the band was preparing, I noticed drummer Casey Hansen stretching a lot (more than a regular drummer), and I found out why later on. This band doesn’t have a genre, in my opinion. They combine the extreme fringes of already underground styles like grindcore, black-shoegaze, slam, sludge, funeral doom, ambient, and drone, all envelloped in crust. Guitarist Mike Mason and bassist Sam Richards had huge pedal-boards with effects for good reason, having to play all those fringe genres. The bassist even did a noise (genre) interlude, DJ-ing with his pedal board to make it sound like a robot being tortured. Vocalist Anthony Lucero is an enigma to me, donning a black leather jacket, always hooded. He could sing, growl, screech, gurgle, you name it. Casey struck me the most; I have never seen a drummer play so intensely. From octopus rolls to inhuman blasting, his face had a constant look of distress, as if he was pushing himself to the limit. If Cult Leader is a sadist, Casey is a damn masochist because he gets off on it. In between songs, he was blowing on his hands and even had to take a two-minute break that was well deserved. I only ended up writing for the first two songs, because I became enveloped by the crowd so much that I joined the pit. It’s been years since I’ve moshed. That’s how much of an effect they had on me. I only ended up catching the song title “ I Am Healed” because I was too busy unleashing my anger. I also bought a shirt and CD. Cult Leader is in my top ten bands of all time now. I hope the rest of the music industry catches on to this phenomenon, because they could be the next Behemoth.
Written by Peter Lountzis
Photography by Chris Carpenter
*edited by Kate Erickson