False- “Untitled”

False- "Untitled"

One week from today, the world will get to experience False’s newest album. This double LP will be False’s second untitled release from Gilead Media, an offering more than twice the length of their debut and still strong enough to warrant no need for titles; the music speaks for itself and it speaks quite clearly. For many, this new record will be the album that illuminates False as a black metal act worth note, and while their previous EP and split with Barghest remain crucial components of any serious collection, it’s clear that this album is not just the album False needed to make, but the album that will realign talk of USBM from shades of Cascadia to a complex and diverse series of artists who happen to share a common land.

I had the good fortune of seeing False live twice in 2011 on a tour with Thou. I’d seen occasional mention of their name on the internet but was generally unaware of their existence at the time. While I attended the first show because I couldn’t get enough of Thou at the time, I was determined to catch them a second time because I needed a chance to better appreciate the intricate black metal mastery of False’s live show. While years have passed since these two incredible gigs, the memory sticks with me as one of the most wonderful concert experiences. I remember telling so many friends about how they had missed the coolest new black metal band I’d heard and feeling like False was going to be the hugest thing ever. While a split with Barghest was released not long after, I felt for a while like my claims had fallen short.

Out of nowhere, False was in the studio in mid-2014. Since the day I heard the news, I’ve been on the edge of my seat, waiting to hear the culmination of so much time spent waiting and wondering. While my two paragraphs of gushing show obvious bias, I tend to be the first one to be upset when a band fails to deliver upon my expectations. Instead, False have surpassed my hopes and are preparing to embark on a US tour. With this exciting news at hand, it’s time to examine exactly why this is one of the best black metal albums I’ve heard in a while.

With five songs spanning the course of an hour, each composition presented here could easily overstay its welcome or wallow in tedium. Many bands with such ambitions fall into these easy traps, and while a good riff sometimes warrants repeating, it can be done to death. Through some miracle of songwriting wizardry, these folks manage to not only keep things fresh for up to fifteen minutes at a time, they go from fascinating passage to fascinating passage as if after each idea came to mind, a better one occurred to follow it.

Songwriting is clearly a strength the band has collectively, as no one musician steals the stage or dominates any particular moment, yet as a unit False charges forward through each bleak soundscape they create as if running from the inevitable downfall and misery which so many of their songs touch upon in one way or another. Still, rather than feeling hopeless and despondent, False seems to tear through trials and challenges, emerging victorious and bloody by the end of each assault. While war may not be the theme, these artists give off an energy not unlike vicious survivors, furiously clinging to whatever will sustain them in order to continue their work.

Adding a strong edge to these songs is a crisp yet ultimately jagged production, courtesy of Adam Tucker at Signaturetone Recordings. The fact that Tucker oversaw recording, mixing, and mastering all himself allowed a precise vision that works in a sort of wretched harmony with False’s blend of bleak and beautiful, culminating in something that production purists can appreciate but that has all the ferocity of a shitty basement demo. A lot of work clearly went into this album, most of which was recorded live (albeit with a scant few overdubs here and there), and the balance on this recording sits exactly where these ears want it to be.

As far as the individual elements, False has the keys sitting a bit lower in the mix than on previous recordings at most times, yet instead of blurring them into oblivion, they’re a guiding force in much the same way most bands utilize their rhythm sections. This added texture allows for sweeping arrangements that sound huge without catering to the typical bombastic symphonic crap thrown out by so many black metal bands who want to make the most out of their synthesizers. The guitars and bass cut firmly into and through each other, weaving back and forth at all speeds in true harmony instead of competing for dominance, while the drums are frantic without demanding too much attention. Over this cacophony, vocalist Rachel has grown fiercer while also improving enunciation, creating a dark narrative that drives the entire album to its most critical moments.

I can’t tell you which song has which exciting section worth your time, although early drafts of this review had plenty of instances. Instead, I seriously urge you to seek out the premieres of tracks from this album on Gilead Media’s bandcamp (linked above), Steel for Brains, and NPR, and discover your own moments within this masterpiece. As I spend more time writing, high praise like this comes from me less frequently as I sift through seas of demos and PR emails that all blur together, yet False stands firmly as one of my greatest hopes for the future of a genre I love so well. I hope that you, dear reader, will find yourself in agreement and be fortunate enough to catch the band on one of their tour dates this summer in order to pick up a record and see the spectacle of their live performance.

FALSE TOUR DATES:

6/27 – Minneapolis, MN @ The Triple Rock w/Burning, Cavernlight, Principality (ALBUM RELEASE SHOW)

7/7 – Fargo, ND @ The Aquarium
7/8 – Billings, MT @ Black Sparrow Tattoo Club
7/9 – Spokane, WA @ TBA
7/10 – Seattle, WA @ Highline
7/11 – Vancouver, BC @ Fastcore Fest
7/12 – Portland, OR @ Highwater Mark
7/13 – Sacramento, CA @ Blue Lamp
7/14 – Oakland, CA @ Oakland Metro Operahouse
7/15 – Santa Cruz, CA @ Blue Lagoon
7/16 – Los Angeles, CA @ Complex
7/17 – Phoenix, AZ @ 51 West
7/18 – El Paso, TX @ The Sandbox
7/19 – San Antonio, TX @ Korova
7/20 – Austin, TX @ Red Eyed Fly
7/21 – Dallas, TX @ Three Links
7/22 – Houston, TX @ TBA
7/23 – New Orleans, LA @ Gasa Gasa
7/24 – Tallahassee, FL @ All Saints Cafe
7/25 – St. Petersburg, FL @ The 9 10
7/26 – Gainesville, FL @ (A) Space
7/27 – Atlanta, GA @ TBA w/ THOU (Matinee)
7/27 – Nashville, TN @ TBA w/ THOU (Late)
7/28 – Pittsburgh, PA @ TBA w/ THOU (Matinee)
7/28 – Erie, PA @ TBA w/ THOU (Late)
7/29 – Toronto, ON @ Sneaky Dee’s w/ THOU
7/30 – Montreal, QC @ Rrroooaaarrr Festival w/ THOU
7/31 – Brooklyn, NY @ Saint Vitus w/ THOU
8/1 – Brooklyn, NY @ ABC No RIO w/ THOU (Matinee)
8/1 – New Brunswick, NJ @ TBA
8/2 – Baltimore, MD @ TBA
8/3 – Philadelphia, PA @ Wolf Cycles w/ Infernal Stronghold
8/4 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Roboto Project
8/5 – Cincinnati, OH @ The Drinkery
8/6 – Detroit, MI @ The Sanctuary
8/7 – Chicago, IL @ TBA
8/8 – Milwaukee, WI @ Quarters