Reviews

False offers true black metal innovation

I am a proponent of the “less is more” style of thinking in the music world. Overly complex playing and/or song structures are too often relegated to background noise, too cerebral to convey emotion, and frankly sometimes just too much of a damned mess.

Enter “Untitled” by False. Upon first listen (okay, way more than the first), this thick slab of crazed black metal is utterly bewildering and leaves the senses reeling. The somewhat hazy and muffled production, akin to Weakling’s “Dead as Dreams,” only makes it more difficult to dissect the frenzied array of rhythms and melodies crashing down in an avalanche of sonic ice and stone. Another thing that quickly sets this album apart as singularly baffling are the stylistic changes. It’s always black metal, through and through, but the keyboards in opener “Saturnalia” lend a symphonic feel that was all the rage in the mid ’90s, and made iconic by Emperor’s “In the Nightside Eclipse.” “The Deluge” follows suit, even going for a Cradle of Filth-like keyboard breakdown at one point; but then things veer back toward Weakling, and quite overtly at that, in the latter part of the track. Closing track “Hedgecraft” contains some powerful melodies that are more aligned with Cascadian black metal, and by its conclusion takes on a post-black metal vibe akin to Deafheaven or Bosse-de-Nage. Simply put, the material keeps you on your toes, never quite certain what’s coming next.

The dizzying speed at which these songs are sometimes executed is almost beyond belief. Sections threaten to dissolve into a blinding blur, yet are somehow always kept in check. False wrenches order from the clutches of their own chaos. Their technical execution is an achievement unto itself; their ability to stop and start on a dime, and navigate their own hairpin curves at maximum velocity, is staggering.

Certainly “Untitled” is not without its more accessible charms. But by and large, it feels revolutionary. On the surface, this material is not what I would call experimental black metal, yet it does possess some demonic and otherworldly life of its own that stands unique in the scene. This is a record where I feel like every listen is a plunge into a dark pool, some bottomless abyss that cannot possibly be fully comprehended, cannot possibly be mapped. In spite of that, or maybe because of it, the pleasure and sheer wonder it imparts seem to have no limit.

Get your mind warped here.

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