Minneapolis is not a frigid northern waste year-round, but it’s a good stand-in for Scandinavia on a frosty winter day. The music that comes from there often conjures the heartless sounds of the birthplace of Black Metal. While also being home to the funky sex god Prince (RIP), the region has notably given us many great modern USBM bands to hand our hats on. The greatest may very well be False, as the sextet continues to hone their sound to perfection. I won’t event front, I have been a huge fan for some time and while they are “emerging” to mainstream ears, I have been down since the beginning, with several EP’s and splits most prized among my collection. So of course, I was amped for the release of Portent (Gilead Media), their new full-length album, so I got ready to dive in hard.
False has seen some shit, or more to the point they have collectively and individually lost some folks dear to them in the run-up to creating this album. This has clearly affected their worldview and the music too. It’s bleak as fuck, caustic and for the most part, unrelenting. Although clocking in at around thirty-three minutes on four tracks (three long tracks and a coda to the whole thing), all the emotions are laid bare, and the bones picked clean.
What I have always dug about the band is the cohesive writing style. With a great touch for songcraft, nothing is competing for your attention. All the instruments and vocals have their say, get their turn and flow as one sonic wave. I’m especially impressed with the mix between the ethereal keyboards and the classic OSBM inspired guitar work throughout this release. Busy drums blast through, while the occasional leads sear through to the top. Vocals sit nicely in the pocket. You can even hear and enjoy the bass. This is why as much as the classic first and second wave genre classics get me in my heart, well-made, well-produced black metal pleases both my brain and ears. Working in lockstep with producer Adam Tucker at Signaturetone Recording, False did a great job here.
Other than the aforementioned final track, the three other tracks are progressive, well-balanced, and brutal. Although track times like 16:12 and 12:41 may give pause to some and make you imagine these songs have a lot of dynamic changes, that isn’t the case. We get themes upon themes, constant new motifs, escalating cadences and lick salads, with double-kick laden beat avalanches to cave your head in. Top to bottom, these songs are as a much a catharsis for the listener as they must have been for the band to create.
Your heart may not be ready for what Portent is going to drop on you. If you love this genre, your ears sure need this music right now. Possibly the best black metal album of 2019.
9 / 10