FALSE – Untitled
I can trace my growth from a casual metal fan to a diehard longhair to the summer of 2011. I had just started my love affair with Ludicra when they abruptly decided to call it quits. Upset and confused, I began scouring the internet to fill the forward-thinking, black hole in my heart. A whole new world of music was brought to my attention, a cavernous pit of talent in which I had simply never put forth the effort to explore. But among this wealth of incredible music reaching me, one band had a singularly profound effect. While looking into a relatively new distro and vinyl label called Gilead Media, I started to hear some buzz about a shadowy collective from the Midwest. Despite the fact they had only two recorded songs, the way people wrote about them made me feel like I was witnessing the birth of something special, something that only comes along every decade or so. And indeed, they are.
I obsessively listened to those two tracks from the Untitled EP over and over, finding hidden nuance upon every return. Just 24 minutes of music, they contained endless hours of exploration an ever-changing personal meaning.The next year found me reacting much the same way with “Heavy as a Church Tower”, the single longform track they contributed to a split with Barghest. What followed was almost three years of silence. For a time when fans have grown used to bands issuing updates on an almost hourly basis, this felt like an eternity. It wouldn’t have been at all unexpected for FALSE to quietly disband after a few years of seeming inactivity, but having seen them live and witnessing their passion and dedication, I refused to believe they were finished.
So finally, here we are. A proper FALSE full-length, and one of epic proportions. This new Untitled work more than doubles their back catalog in both time and total number of tracks, and it was absolutely worth the wait. Without making any drastic changes to their formula, the music is as engrossing and intense as before. But this time it’s a proper journey into gorgeous extremity, rather than just a foray. The result is a breathtaking bombardment on all the senses. While any attempt at categorization couldn’t possibly do their unique sound justice, I like to view the Minneapolis sextet as the perfect bridge between the upper echelon of the Second Wave and nuanced USBM experimentation. For those of us who speak names like Emperor and Weakling in hushed, reverent tones there is no din more exciting than the one FALSE creates. Grandiose, thrilling, and relentless, Untitled is ultimately a testament to how beautiful sheer extremity can be.
This album contains everything I love about black metal, and metal as a whole. Densely layered, unrelenting, abrasive, yet containing just enough rounded edges and gripping melodies to keep a sense of humanity to it all. It’s not singularly riffs, atmosphere or composition that make FALSE masters of their craft. They masterfully rely on a balance of all their tools to arrange their assault. The choice to record the guitars and drums live perfectly captures their intensity and dedication to an undoctored, natural sound. Hearing a breath taken before a torrent of fiery screams pour forth or the untriggered bass drums as they speed along along only adds to the drama. The way Untitled was recorded is as close to experiencing FALSE live show as one can get, though nothing will ever be that powerful. There’s hardly a moment’s respite as they race at a breakneck pace through the five tracks; only when a masterful tempo shift or brief intro is inserted do FALSE give themselves or the listener a chance to take a breath. And that’s part of what makes Untitled so utterly brilliant.
It’s rare that the initial hype of a new band ever flourishes into something long-lasting or meaningful, but FALSE are so far beyond what a normal group is capable of that in this case it’s unsurprising. I’ve waited patiently for a full release and now that it’s here it’s almost overpowering, overwhelming. Their style of unrelenting, aggressively beautiful black metal has grown stronger as they’ve aged and this hour of attention-demanding sonic beauty is unlike any other. With this flawless full-length FALSE prove they are a force to be reckoned with, peerless, and one of the most important bands of the decade.