I’m going to spare you the bullshit today. Normally I try to craft an essay about whatever piece of music I’m going to discuss, attempt to relate to my life or societal events, and then go on about the bands and what they produced. Today, I feel like that’s not necessary, because this subject matter is far too urgent and important.
Last year, we got to know two deadly, mysterious new black metal forces in Barghest, a lo-fi monster, and FALSE, whose debut album was Meat Mead Metal’s No. 1 release of 2011. Both threw convention under cement truck wheels, backed over it several times, and spread the blood all over walls and windows. I don’t remember being as excited about two groups from this genre in a long time, and both seemed to have promising futures ahead of them. Now we know a little bit more about what each band is capable of doing and that their first efforts weren’t flashes in the pan.
Soon, you’ll be able to have in your hands the new split effort featuring both FALSE and Barghest, being released by Gilead Media. Full disclosure: I was super amped about this release when I first learned about it and could not wait to hear the thing for the first time. I think of everything due in 2012, it was the thing I was most excited about. But, you know I’ve gotten all excited about releases in the past that ended up not being as awesome as imagined, so I can be pretty hard on something when I’m let down. That said, just one listen to this three-song effort cemented everything I figured it would be, that being a volcanic, hate-ridden hell beast of a joint effort that I imagine will blaze to life once I get a version that can be played on my record player. Seriously, any hype this release gets is not enough. It’s essential listening. It’s frothing-at-the-mouth real, utterly explosive, and proof that not every young band goes for polished and pristine. Some just want to burn everything in front of them with as much intensity as possible. Both of these bands do their best to exterminate.
We’ll start with Barghest’s contribution to this split, two rough, filthy, ground up, untreated songs that take a dull razor to black metal’s throat. The band hails from Baton Rouge, La., and they spew bad intentions and the desire to see humanity suffer. It sounds like they’re physically releasing demons when they play this stuff, and you’re hard pressed to find something that sounds this nasty yet excellently put together. Don’t mistake these guys as amateurs for their sound. What you hear is what they intended, but their chops as musicians and melody makers cannot be denied. Their self-titled debut album sounded like a bodily injury, and what they contribute to this split is along the same lines, only with the intensity and pissiness amplified.
“Shifting Sands” is the opener on the Barghest side, and you’ll notice underneath all the hellish carnage is a melody line. They do those really well, and they bury them just enough so that you suffocate on the smoke rising elsewhere and only catch onto that glimmer of glory once you’re overcome. There is some really great, murky guitar work here courtesy of Matthew Thudium (also of Thou), Jason Thorning, and Dallas Smith, while drummer Terry Gulino pounds the shit out of his kit and gives everything a machine gun vibe. It’s also an older song that hasn’t been available in any form before. “Inhuman Hatred,” a brand new track, has such a wonderful title, because it’s exactly what the songs sounds like. It’s monstrous, especially when Smith goes for the inhaled death grunts you hear, and there is a sense of complete menace that captures and annihilates you. Not sure this song is an indication as to where they’re headed in the future, but if so, I sense more of a primal, gut-wrenching death metal display could enter their mix more frequently. Great, another genre for them to dominate.
I really love what Barghest contributed to this split, and they play like a band intent on making deeper and gorier the chip on their collective shoulders. The million new black metal bands that pop up every year should be forced to hear this band to see if they measure up creatively and emotionally. If they can’t come close, they should just quit.
On the more creative, yet no less massive end, come FALSE. Their two-track debut was quite a load, and it took many listens to get my head around everything that was going on with that record. Their music sounds like 19 people put together all of those layers, but instead, it’s only six of them. And it hits you like a ferocious thunderstorm, with singer Rachel leading the way with her inhuman, throat gnashing growls and shrieks that strangle your imagination. I still listen to their debut regularly to this day, and getting something new from the band obviously was quite welcome.
As is expected with FALSE, their entry “Heavy as a Church Steeple” is long. More than 17 minutes long. And that song title hits directly on the head the tempo and power of this song. The track begins kind of inauspiciously, with a hazy guitar line, some synth bleeding, and a sense of calm you know is horribly temporary. When the moment hits for the song to explode into a million pieces, it does so with weight and purpose, as the tempo speeds up, Rachel howls along like she’s on fire, and the rest of the band begins laying waste to everything with all the weapons in their arsenal. The guitars peel out and pull back when the song regains its head, the synthesizers sound like “Seventh Son” era Iron Maiden and paint a mystical picture, and then the foundation cracks and lava vomits forth, covering every inch of land. The band’s appreciation of and homage to Norwegian black metal is ever present here, and they make look like fools the tons of other bands who try but don’t really understand the same influence. This is just icy, titanic stuff, and maybe they’re Minneapolis home base has something to do with the frigidity.
FALSE’s imaginative, thought-provoking, emotional black metal never fails to move me wholly. I love everything about this band, and it’ll be a crime if this sextet’s profile doesn’t start to rise dramatically. Seriously, everyone, pay attention to this band. You need to know their name, you need to encounter their work, and you need to feel their incredible power. I haven’t been this excited by a new band the way I am about FALSE in a really long time, and every song they put out ramps that enthusiasm even more. I can’t wait to witness them live when they hit my hometown in September, and I plan to follow every move of what I hope is a long, meaningful career.
For more on Barghest, go here: http://www.facebook.com/barghestsoulless
For more on FALSE, go here: http://www.metal-archives.com/bands/False/3540332204
To buy the album (should be on sale soon), go here: http://www.gileadmedia.net/store/
For more on the label, go here: http://www.gileadmedia.net/