False: Untitled

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False: Untitled
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False: Untitled
Black Metal
Gilead Media
August 9th, 2011
Release length: 25:17
Bandcamp

From the cold, grim streets of Minneapolis comes the Black Metal act, False. This group is a six member project with the band’s vocalist being a female instead of the traditional male concept. This leads to a bit of a unique approach to the group’s debut EP, the Untitled 12″, which is being dubbed by some simply as a self-titled release, but according to the promos from Gilead Media, that’s not the case. The EP is only two tracks long, but clocks in at a little over twenty five minutes. Given the sudden surge of North American Black Metal bands from regions less-then-considered frostbitten, does this six-piece have what it takes to stand out without necessarily having to follow more modern gimmicky ideas such as hiding behind costumes, aliases, or even a lesser production quality?

Actually, yes. Untitled 12″ is a real surprise for fans of Black Metal. First of all, the production isn’t a traditional underground raw quality, and borders between being a little muddy and having a cleaner, modern sound to it. The instruments stand out nicely thanks to it, and given the arrangements the band uses, it’s a wise choice as far as the production goes. The guitars are not necessarily sharp, but have a bit of a dull, blunt sound that works with the slightly muddy sound and the heavier bass presence. The drums sound great, having nice thuds to the kicks, and loud snares and cymbols, all working with a more modern approach to the performance of the music, generally being faster and concentrating on a more sinister atmosphere, as well as rhaspier vocals that sometimes bridge into modern day Black Metal screaming concepts, and some rather deep howling and wails that find the vocals becoming more haunting. There’s also keyboards used here and there, and they are pretty subtle when they show, especially in “Sleepmaker”, being obvious but just a little further in the background. This is also how the vocals work here, being a little further in the mix to the point where you’re probably not going to understand what is being sung, but it again allows them to be more haunting and even sound more like roaring wind at times.

The big thing about this release is that the band brings in the concepts similar to second wave Black Metal, but also not afraid to push the music to more epic heights that reflect a more modern third generation sound. References to bands like Immortal and Watain could be felt through the aggressive performances of “The Key of Passive Suffering” and “Sleepmaker”, but there’s also an unmistakable symphonic element to some of the material, especially when the band switches gears to the more modern day fury approach to the style. “The Key of Passive Suffering” rings true with older second wave concepts and a vibe that really feels cold and mystical, all paced nicely between slower passages that shift well back and forth between faster moments and mid-tempo sections. Of course the start of “The Key of Passive Suffering” does start off a little more on the generic side and takes a little bit to pick up and become a strong enough track that fans of the style will want to sink their teeth into. The song also really uses a rhaspier, sometimes screaming vocal approach, basically strandling the concepts between the two mentioned waves for this approach to music, but with the feminine edge to it, the material actually comes out sounding a bit more sinister and works for the occultish vibe of the track. The only gripe to be had with this song is that, when it starts to pick up a little more around the half way point, the bridge that fills the gap between the slower and increased speed has some drumming that seems to get exhausted quickly and just not manage to keep up.

Despite the somewhat rocky start on “The key of Passive Suffering”, it’s perhaps the best of the two. That track gradually builds to a far more epic sounding conclusion, and overall shows more talent from the band, leaving an impressive track behind you can come back to again and again for more then just anger and fury like with “Sleepmaker”. The second track here pretty much just starts out with the symphonic keyboards aiding to the fast paced Black Metal brutality found in the more modern interpretation of the style, and that’s fine. It does, however, downgrade instead of build, which is a bit interesting and ends up giving the two songs more of a conceptual feel. Around the half way point of “Sleepmaker”, the intense music slows down to a slower passage that sounds like it’s meant to be depressive, but doesn’t quite hit the nail on the head despite a decent transition into it. The distorted guitar for this part doesn’t work too well either thanks to it’s slightly more bland then sharp sound, and when the cleaner leads finally kick in, it’s a welcome breath of fresh air that salvages what it can of this passage and starts to build itself back up to a more epic sound, but never really reaching it again.

Overall, the Untitled 12″ may not be the greatest piece of North American Black Metal to be released, but it’s still a fine release. The two songs eat up a good amount of time, and outside a few iffy sections on both, they’re really impressive. False clearly doesn’t try to take on one style or approach of Black Metal, but rather comes off as a nice mixture of what makes the style so great in the first place without folding to the more common underground concepts. The EP feels atmospheric, cold, often quite epic, and the female vocal performance really adds more atmosphere to the mix, especially with the way the audio is handled for this release. False are definitely a band to keep an eye on, and this release is one that fans of any walk of life to this branch of Metal can pick up again and relive again and again after the first few spins through.


01. The Key of Passive Suffering – 12:33
02. Sleepmaker – 12:44
Initial Pressing Score: 8.5/10

False
False

Digital review copy of this release provided by Gilead Media.