False- Untitled

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Saturday, May 16, 2015

Minneapolis black metal band False first turned heads back in 2011 when they released an untitled EP and followed it up a year later with a split. Like some of the other U.S. acts in the genre, False’s material was structured around longer track lengths but rather than starting off at a softer level and building to intense climaxes they tended to start off at an extremely aggressive level and build that up to an almost suffocating point. Three years after those two releases the group is back with their first full length, which they have also chosen to keep untitled. There’s been a noticeable shift in the production, giving the songs on this record an even denser and suffocating sound that’s able to fully capture the emotion they are capable of.

At just under in an hour in length, Untitled is a record that demands your full attention and often reaches an almost exhausting level of abrasiveness and sheer energy. But for those that truly enjoy diving into the bleak tones and twists and turns a longer black metal album like this has to offer, False is able to provide some truly engaging arrangements. Compared to their previous two releases, the sound here is much fuller and though there is some additional clarity between the different elements the sheer amount of layers and denseness of the instrumental works means you’ll have to dive beneath the surface to take everything in. False wastes no time in build ups, as opening piece “Saturnalia” hits a level of intense blasting at the fifteen second mark that is just as aggressive as some other band’s climaxes. But this doesn’t mean that the group is simply blasting away for ten to fifteen minutes at a time either, as they offer slower respites that still harbor a sense of dread. Each time through new elements seemed to capture my attention, as on that first listen the sheer aggression and suffocating density of the recording grabbed me but by the second or third time I was beginning to notice the soaring keyboards and bursts of melody that were lurking beneath the surface. It’s a powerful listen, and False ends with some of their most mesmerizing leads on “Hedgecraft” making this a strong release from beginning to end.

With the sheer amount of intensity that the instrumentals are able to reach on this album, one would expect that the vocals are able to reach that same level and this is another area where False is able to fully deliver. Lead singer Rachel has a higher pitched scream that fits right in to the group’s dense, grimier sound and while early on it sounds like the vocals might get completely swallowed up by the rest of the recording there are specific moments where she breaks free and completely takes over. Although the pitch stays at about the same general level for much of the album, there are plenty of instrumental passages where the vocals fade out before coming back in at an even stronger level than before which keeps things from becoming repetitive. A lot of black metal that goes for this denser, sprawling type of instrumentation completely buries their vocals and doesn’t make them the focal point but False has struck a great balance between the two elements and it works to their advantage.

There is a lot of fantastic US black metal out there right now, but False’s new album is one that deserves to be part of the conversation. While they’re able to provide the same type of sprawling atmosphere and denser sound that many of the others out there have channeled, Untitled goes for a much more aggressive approach from beginning to end that makes their music distinguishable. It’s an effort that will take a good deal of time to truly make sense of, particularly once you start noticing the melodic currents sweeping through the otherwise abrasive instrumentation, but those willing to invest that energy and give this one their full attention will find it to be truly captivating and a clear sign that this band has reached a truly stunning level.

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