Album Review: False – “Hunger” (EP)

Hunger album art by Stephen Wilson (Unknown Relic)

Every band has to push their creative envelope at some point.  Sticking to your guns is a great thing, but making the same album with exactly the same sound and form again and again can lose it’s impact.  Sometimes it’s necessary to add elements from other genres of music to take things in a new direction.  Sometimes expanded production values are enough to breathe new life into the music.  So what do you do if you’re Minneapolis based black metal act False, who’s shortest track length in their entire discography is nine and a half minutes?  Why, you record a 7″ of course.  And while Hunger shakes the proverbial tree, it enables the band to focus in and deliver some of their best work ever.

false band photo

While the total run time of Hunger may be less than the typical length of one False song, the sheer amount of riffs per square inch contained on these songs is staggering.  “Anhedonia,” the album’s A side, steadily builds from a trudging intro into a frenzied pace, driven by blast beats and mournful guitar melody, before reaching its apex in a glorious burst of keyboard and guitar that leaves me utterly transfixed every time it happens.  The titular B side, by comparison, comes snarling straight out of the gate, taking a much more punk-oriented approach and giving an extra edge to Rachel’s already vicious vocal work.

Being a six-piece band, it would be very easy for everything to become a messy stew of guitars, keyboards, and vocals fighting for the same space, yet as is (and has been) the case, the band’s smart songwriting skills ensure that every piece serves its small part in the greater picture of the songs, coming together to form a tidal wave of fury while maintaining a razor sharp clarity on each instrument.  This is also due to a history of great production work, especially on Hunger, where engineer Adam Tucker managed to capture the nuances of every instrument without having any one clash with another, in addition to giving the keyboards the slightly higher presence in the mix I’ve always secretly wanted from this band.

The ability to balance melody and aggression, in addition to all of the textural elements of the band’s music, is the reason why False is one of the best black metal acts around, and Hunger is living proof of that.  Many bands play at this kind of organized chaos, but False make it feel like it’s as easy as breathing, even when pushing themselves out of their usual comfort zone.  Hunger may be a short listen, but it is without a doubt some of the most compelling music I have heard all year.

– Vincent

Hunger will be available July 28 on Gilead Media. For more information on False visit their Metallum page.

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