Songs for Black Days: Cult Leader | Revolver

Songs for Black Days: Cult Leader

Members of experimental post-hardcore band share 8 songs that've helped them through dark times
80ww_cultleader03bybobbycochran.jpeg, Bobby Cochran
Cult Leader, 2018
photograph by Bobby Cochran

Cult Leader create some of the most harrowing heavy music being made today, be it in the form of the blasting, swerving chaotic hardcore/grind they're best known for, or the stark, spiritual death-rock newly introduced to their repertoire via the SLC crew's stunning second album A Patient Man. Whether spastic or gloomy or a little of both, Cult Leader's songs come from a very real place born of harrowing experience.

Other artists' music, too, has helped the band members process life's trials and tribulations over the years. For our continuing "Songs for Black Days" series, presented in partnership with Hope for the Day, we asked them to share a few songs that they have turned to in dark times. Below is what they offered up.

Mike Mason, Guitar:

Emma Ruth Rundle - "Haunted Houses"

My younger brother Blair committed suicide on May 29th, 2014. I thought I had an idea what depression was before that day, but I was naive. Emma released Some Heavy Ocean the week before, and I'll always remember sitting in my bed at 2 a.m. that night, in and with all the darknesses one can imagine, crying, and hearing her song "Haunted Houses" for the first time. Probably listened to it 20 times in a row. That album is great, but that song will live in me and remind me of my brother forever. 

Ólafur Arnalds/Nils Frahm - "20:17"

A song with a little glow in it. This song has that. I listen to it pretty much daily. Check in on your friends and family, and do it often, because you never know what conversations people might be having with themselves. "One mind less, one world less," George Orwell writes in his essay "A Hanging." It holds true regardless of the situation.

Anthony Lucero, Vocals:

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds - "I Need You"

I have an endless desire to create and consume art that helps me cope with and express the depressive feelings I can't escape. This song expresses loss and vulnerability at depths that few others can come close to for me. It provides a catharsis and imparts a motivation to stay above ground.

Townes Van Zandt - "A Song for"

It's difficult not to romanticize the idea of the tortured soul. Someone who lets their personal demons tear them apart while making great art about it. I know the truth is that it's far from romantic. So every time I hear Townes says the line "Too late to wish I'd been stronger," I want to prove him wrong.

Sam Richards, Bass:

Curl Up and Die - "I'm Trying to Fly to the Moon Using Two Magnets and Willpower"

Like many, I gravitated towards heavy abrasive music and the subculture that came with it when I was a depressed teenager because it felt like a good way to purge negativity. Curl Up and Die's early works had extremely raw, percussive vocals that were barely annunciated. It didn't matter because it perfectly fit the mood of the music. As they progressed, their final full length and two EPs that preceded it had some of the best emotional lyrics I've ever read to this day. It was like discovering a new band. I would listen to this album on repeat and soak in misery while reading through the lyrics. It made me feel like I wasn't alone because someone else found a way to put exactly what I was feeling into their art. 

Roy - "Reno, I'm Coming Home"

I listened to this song a lot in my twenties whenever I was depressed on tour. It's a beautiful, yet sad song from a man to his husband. It simultaneously captures feeling homesick and sick of home. Doing what you love can still be hard and even dangerous work. Sometimes it's not respected, rewarding or even sustainable. Even when things are going well, it can create literal distance between you and your loved ones. Sometimes you just need to tell someone you miss them.

Casey Hansen, Drums:

Goldmund - "Sometimes"

My outlook on life has always been rather cynical and bleak, but in recent years I struggled mightily with loss and grief to a degree that I would rather not admit. Life has a way of blindsiding you, so I didn't much care for life after that loss. Music that I had found comfort during better times became a ritual in exorcising pain, many times a day, many weeks in a row. "Sometimes" by Goldmund was that song (and that album). At this point, I hardly listen to it, as it now bears the weight of that ritual.

Oddisee - "Strength and Weakness"

Sometimes you just have to get up and get fucking going, and this song does just that. I love how thoughtful Oddisee's work is — from rich production and proficient-yet-understated flow, to their conscious lyrics and language. But at the end of it all, the stuff just is and FEELS good.

Every day in America, 121 people die by suicide. It only takes one to break the silence — take action in your community and sign Hope for the Day'mental health pledge.

If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) or go to for a list of resources.